The state of South Carolina awarded George W. McDaniel, Ph.D. as the winner of the prestigious 2014 South Carolina Environmental Awareness Award. McDaniel received the award during a ceremony on October 22, 2015.
A Legacy of Preservation and Conservation
McDaniel is the former executive director of Drayton Hall, a position he held for 26 years. An 18th century plantation on the Ashley River, Drayton Hall is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and managed by the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.
During his tenure as executive director, McDaniel created collaborative partnerships and led initiatives that positively influenced the integrity of the Ashley River region and ecosystem. He is now recognized as a local, state and national leader for his efforts in pioneering what is now referred to as “whole place preservation,” the combination of environmental conservation and historic preservation.
Of his many achievements, McDaniel led efforts to have the Ashley River designated as a State Scenic River and is a founding member of the Ashley Scenic River Advisory Council. He has helped to conserve the tranquil natural environment and habitat surrounding not just Drayton Hall, but also around other historic sites along the river. He has raised awareness among thousands of people about the importance and interconnection of historic and environmental conservation through his speaking engagements, education initiatives, innovative tours of Drayton Hall, and published works.
An excerpt from his nomination:
“He realized that, in the Lowcountry and elsewhere in the nation, humans and the environment have interacted over the centuries, and have changed and been changed by one another, so that what we see today is the result of that interrelationship. If we lose either the historical or the natural environment, then we have lost a critical link to our past and a connection to our future.”
An Award of Excellence
The S.C. Environmental Awareness Award was established by the S.C. General Assembly during the 1992 legislative session to recognize outstanding contributions made toward the protection, conservation, and improvement of South Carolina’s natural resources.
Each year the public is invited to submit nominations that are then reviewed by an awards committee. In judging nominees, the committee considers excellence in innovation, leadership and accomplishments that influence positive changes affecting the natural environment.
Members of the awards committee represent the S.C. Forestry Commission, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Previous winners of the Environmental Awareness Award include:
2013 – Joseph R. Hamilton, Founder of the Quality Deer Management Association
2012 – Thomas Kester, Chairman and Treasurer for the Conestee Foundation
2011 – Dr. Patricia J. DeCoursey, Professor of Biological Sciences at USC
2010 – Frank S. Holleman, III, President, Naturaland Trust
2009 – Dr. Fred Holland, Coastal Ecologist, Charleston
2008 – Benjamin Ziegler, Chairman, Pee Dee Land Trust
2007 – Dr. Richard Porcher, Jr., Professor Emeritus, The Citadel
2006 – Rick Huffman, Founder, South Carolina Native Plant Society
2004 – John L. Knott, Jr., President, Noisette Company, North Charleston
2003 – Burris Family, Owners, Cypress Bay Plantation Tree Farm, Beaufort
2002 – Dr. Jack Turner, Director, Watershed Ecology Center, Univ. of South Carolina
2001 – James D. Elliott, Jr., Founder, South Carolina Center for Birds of Prey
2000 – Dr. Dave Hargett, Conservationist, Greenville
1999 – Kenneth Strickland, Environmentalist, Florence
1998 – Yancey A. McLeod, Jr., Environmental Educator, Eastover
1997 – Brad Wyche, President, Friends of the Reedy River, Greenville
1996 – Beaufort County Clean Water Task Force
1995 – Dr. Whitfield Gibbons, Senior Research Ecologist, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
1994 – Marion Burnside, Chairman, SC Department of Natural Resources
1993 – Dana Beach, Executive Director, SC Coastal Conservation League
1992 – Rudy Mancke, Naturalist, SC Educational Television