Liz Putnam, founder of Student Conservation Association, receives high honor from The Wilderness Society

Feb 24, 2016

Liz Putnam, Founding President of the Student Conservation Association

Courtesy of Student Conservation Association
The Wilderness Society has selected Liz Putnam, founder of the Student Conservation Association, to receive its Robert Marshall Award.

The award is the organization’s highest honor bestowed on one person each year who has never held public office but has had notable influence upon conservation and the fostering of an American land ethic.

Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam first explored the idea of a student conservation corps in 1953 as a college student. For a project at Vassar College, she outlined a service program modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was created during the Great Depression. She soon put the idea into action, enlisting student volunteers to assist with the upkeep of U.S. national parks and public spaces, starting in 1957. Today, the Student Conservation Association is a fixture in the American conservation movement and has welcomed more than 80,000 participants since its creation.

“Liz is an inspiration to all of us,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “She has led the largest youth effort in the nation. As an enduring model, the Student Conservation Association has sparked the creation of similar youth conservation programs over the years.  At the same time, on a personal level, her dedication continues to shine as a brilliant example of how to foster our next generation of conservation leaders.”

In 2010, Liz Putnam became the first conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal – the nation’s second-highest civilian award.  

The Robert Marshall Award will be presented to Putnam at a ceremony in Washington, DC February 24. That award is named for the wilderness visionary, scientist and founding member of The Wilderness Society.  Past recipients of the award include Frances Beinecke, David Brower, Bill Cronon, Larry Rockefeller, Wallace Stegner, Peggy and Ed Wayburn and Hansjörg Wyss.

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The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.   

Contact:  Michael Reinemer, Deputy Director, Wildlands Communications, 202-429-3949,