Brookville naturalist receives award for excellence

Doug Horvath uses Ruby the Red-tailed Hawk to emphasize the importance of children getting outside at the Nov. 9 Connection to Nature Awards Presentation at Adventure Central. CONTRIBUTED

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Doug Horvath uses Ruby the Red-tailed Hawk to emphasize the importance of children getting outside at the Nov. 9 Connection to Nature Awards Presentation at Adventure Central. CONTRIBUTED

Douglas Horvath, Outdoor Education coordinator and naturalist at Five Rivers Metro Parks, was honored on Nov. 17 in Spokane, Wash.

He received the Master Front Line Interpreter Award for 2017 from the National Association for Interpretation. It was presented for “demonstrating a mastery of interpretive techniques, program development, and design of creative projects.”

Horvath, a resident of Brookville, was raised in Brookville from first grade through high school. He left and moved back in 1999 after time traveling, schooling and working in Englewood at the Aullwood Audubon Center for 11 years.

He and his wife, Ann Catherine, have been married for 19 years and have three children: Jared, 17; Casey Ann, 15; and Sierra, 13. They all attend Brookville Local School.

Horvath is passionate about getting children to spend more time playing outdoors, especially in unstructured play with access to natural areas. He has been with Five Rivers since Jan. 3, 1999.

“I have been involved with outdoor education for 40 years since my first days as a counselor at Camp Greenbriar at the old N.W. YMCA on Diamond Mill Road in what is now Sycamore State Park,” said Horvath. “I have always enjoyed working with children and adults as we discover the wonders of the outdoor world around us. During my career I’ve received an ACE Award from National Audubon Society for my work at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm and been recognized by the Environmental Education Council of Ohio, while working for Five Rivers Metro Parks. I’ve always had great help and mentoring from my colleagues and inspiration from my audiences; especially children. We must find a way to leave a more-healthy world and the stories of our place in it for our children.”

Horvath has been active in the “Leave No Child Inside Movement” seeking to create more access and motivation for children to spend time outdoors in unstructured play which makes them happier, healthier, and smarter.

“My friend and colleague, Joshua York, nominated me for 2017 NAI Master Frontline Interpreter Award and gathered letters of support from Cinda Hanbuch-Pinkerton, Paul and Cathy Knoop, Tom Hissong and Katy Lucas; all of whom have inspired me with their excellence as Naturalist teachers over the years. This award is a reflection upon my whole career of work and not just from 2017.

“I remain very grateful for all the support from my agency, Five Rivers MetroParks, whose leadership supported the expense of sending me to personally receive this award,” said Horvath.

During the NAI National Conference, he heard stories of the other award winners at the presentation of the U.S. Federal Excellence in Interpretation Awards on Thursday evening and during the NAI Awards Banquet on Nov 17.

Horvath had time to explore the local parks. “I was excited, as I had not visited Washington State before, and I was intrigued with the geological story of the mega floods during the last glaciation which carved Dry Falls, the Grand Coulee, into the basalt bedrock.”

Doug’s days were filled with the wonder of the local landscape and wildlife including Golden Eagles. In the evening he spent time with peers celebrating.

Nominations are solicited for schools, parks, libraries, and places of worship for the Connect to Nature Awards on an ongoing basis.

“It is critical we support our children with encouragement and access to the outdoors so they spend time outside because it does help them be happier, healthier and smarter,” said Doug Horvath.

More for information, go online to or call Doug Horvath at 937-277-4835.

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