The Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance (FLRWA) honored Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman with its new Citizen Award, given to individuals who contribute significantly to the alliance’s cause of protecting the water quality of the Finger Lakes.
A ceremony was held at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center gazebo overlooking Seneca Lake and hosted by FLRWA President Margie Creamer, representative of Otisco Lake. Past FLRWA President and representative of Honeoye Lake Don Cook noted that the award was developed “to honor people who have given their time and energy to improve the water quality of the Finger Lakes … very creative, talented, hardworking people.”
After Cook presented Halfman with the engraved plaque, FLRWA representative for Seneca Lake and Vice President of Water Quality for the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association Dan Corbett thanked Halfman for teaching “not just students, but all of us about the issues of Seneca Lake” and for playing a key role in the current watershed management plan. “You hear the term ‘standing on the shoulders of those that came before you,’” Corbett said. “John’s still here, but we’re still standing on his shoulders.”
Lisa Cleckner, director of the Finger Lakes Institute, noted that Halfman has “engaged and taught hundreds of Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ students about the lakes through research missions on our vessels as well as in our laboratories.”
She explained that because Halfman publishes his data and research as open source, it is “widely disseminated and can be used by people trying to make decisions about how to best protect our waters,” noting that seeking and sharing information about the Finger Lakes with managers, government agencies and citizens is one of the goals of the Finger Lakes Institute. Cleckner then thanked Halfman “for his scientific contributions as well as his mentorship of HWS students and Finger Lakes citizens alike.”
The ceremony concluded with remarks from Halfman. “I collect a lot of data and try to interpret it the best I can,” he said. “Some of those interpretations have changed over the years — most of the changes are influenced by my students. They say ‘No, Halfman, you’re wrong.’ And sometimes they’re right, which is good. That’s the way science should really go.”
Halfman joined the Hobart and William Smith faculty in 1994. He helped establish the Finger Lakes Institute, which is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments.