Luke Gascho, former director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, is the recipient of the 2019 Howard Michaud Award. The Environmental Education Association of Indiana announced the selection November 1 at McCor mick’s Creek State Park during their annual conference.
“I’m honored,” observed Gascho. “What is most significant for me though, is that the contributions of Merry Lea are recognized.”
The Howard Michaud Award acknowledges long-term dedication and contributions to environmental education in the State of Indiana. In Gascho’s case, this includes 22 years at Merry Lea, developing and overseeing innovative environmental education programs. He was particularly involved with the center’s post-secondary programs, including a Master of Arts in Environmental Education and two undergraduate semesters.
Gascho oversaw the design and building of Rieth Village—an undergraduate biological field station—and the development of the surrounding Merry Lea Sustainable Farm. The former was Indiana’s first facility to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s top rating.
“While Luke would be the first to point out that all of this progress was due to a team effort, it is equally true that none of it would have been as successful or durable without Luke’s wisdom, patience and creativity behind it,” observed Jonathon Schramm, an associate professor in Goshen College’s Sustainability and Environment Education Department.
“Fantastic news!” responded Rebecca Stoltzfus, president of Goshen College, when she heard about the award. She added, “Luke has a tremendous vision and imagination for environmental education across the lifespan. He has left Goshen College a very strong staff and portfolio of educational programs and research at Merry Lea. We look forward to stewarding and sustaining his legacy into the next era.”
Academic Dean Ann Vendrely concurred, adding that Merry Lea will play a significant role in one of Goshen College’s current strategic directions, which is to become a more visible leader in environmental science and stewardship.
Gascho joins several other recipients of the Howard Michaud Award with connections to Merry Lea. Larry Yoder (2001) and Paul Steury (2012) both received the award while employed there. In addition, Jabin Burnworth a graduate of the MAEE program, received the award in 2017, and three people who have volunteered at Merry Lea were also recipients: Darci Zolman (2006), Paul McAfee (2011) and Kate Ferguson (2013).