2008 Jefferson Award recipient: Lois de Vries
There are few individuals as deserving of recognition as Andover Township's Lois de Vries. Her volunteer efforts in assuring that the township's natural resources remain the attraction that brings new residents into the community serve as an inspiration to others to join in those efforts.
She currently sits as a member of the Open Space Committee and the Land Use Board. She also serves as chairperson of the Environmental Commission, a post she has held for the past five years.
Prior to her arrival, the Township lacked many of the necessary studies and ordinances to protect the environmentally sensitive lands within the community. Under Lois's leadership, the Commission instituted a Dark Skies Initiative and developed partnerships that, together, produced a Sensitive Areas Map, along with a Township specific Landscape Project set of maps and inventories.
Singlehandedly, she has secured grants that have enabled Andover Township to hire professionals to generate a Natural Resources Inventory, a Build Out Capacity Analysis, and an Open Space Plan. Lois was a dynamic force in getting our local Open Space Tax passed in 2006.
She has also instituted partnership programs with local organizations to develop a plant rescue venture and is developing a pilot program that will convert the many detention basins in the Township into sites conducive to native animal and plant habitats. In addition, Lois is in the process of applying for a grant to fund a town-wide hydro-geology report geared to protecting our water supply.
Lois has stood firm, despite numerous shifts in the political winds, in her determination to provide safeguards that will protect the environment for Andover Township's residents. Many of Andover's residents are unaware of all that this woman has done (behind the scenes) for their town. Her receiving this award would give her the recognition she deserves.
The Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 by Sam Beard, Jacqueline Kennedy and Senator Robert Taft to honor people who do outstanding community service. The awards are presented on both the national and local levels. The recipients of the New Jersey State Jefferson Awards are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.
For several months prior to the event, The Star-Ledger accepted nominations from readers which were reviewed by a panel of judges. Winners from across the Garden State were chosen for their exceptional community service and acts of charity. You can nominate outstanding volunteers for the 2009 Jefferson Awards online.