Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Virginia high school student wins IDA Rising Star Award!

Before she had even begun her sophomore year of high school, Lora Callahan was shepherding James River State Park toward application for Dark Sky Park certification through collaboration with park staff, hands-on work, education, and advocacy. In November IDA awarded Lora with one of two Rising Star awards (you can read about all award winners here.)

IDA published the follow summary of why Lora is a Rising Star: 

We proudly honor Lora Callahan, a high school student from Lynchburg, VA, who has become the kind of dark skies champion and advocate to which we all aspire.  An outdoor enthusiast and veteran Girl Scout who intends to visit all of Virginia’s 37 state parks, Lora teamed up with the James River State Park volunteer coordinator to pursue an IDA Dark Sky Park certification for the Park.  Since then she has volunteered more than 100 hours toward the effort, far exceeding the 80-hour requirement of the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award.  Lora and friends hand-built and installed 35 wooden shields for the exterior lights in the Park’s cabin area, conducted extensive night sky readings that were submitted to IDA, conducted a lighting inventory of the entire park and its facilities, changed bulbs to lower intensities, installed and set timers, replaced some fixtures with FSA approved designs, and disconnecting unnecessary lights including antiquated ‘dusk to dawn’ post lights within view of the riverside campground.  This past June Lora spent a weekend assisting with dark sky-focused interpretive programs and she continues to keep up with outreach to surrounding communities and regional astronomy clubs to build support and attract more partners for ongoing program development.  Not only have Lora’s ongoing efforts made James River State Park an ideal place to view the night sky and experience the natural night, she has brought valuable public attention to the cause of night sky conservation and responsible lighting practices while continuing to elevate dark skies as a priority for the Virginia State Parks.  We are fortunate to have Lora Callahan on the side of dark skies in Virginia and IDA can only benefit from her leadership and its full potential.