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Catawba College's Dr. Michael Baranski Honored with Conservation Communicator Award

February 01, 2007

Category: Alumni, Biology, Faculty


Baranski receives awardDr. Michael Baranski, a Catawba College professor of biology, was recently honored with the 2007 Conservation Communicator Award by North Carolina's Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). The award was presented January 13 at the society's annual awards banquet held in Raleigh.

Baranski, who joined the Catawba faculty in 1974, has spent his career promoting environmental preservation, conservation, and awareness among his students and the public at large. His efforts are similar to the mission of the SWCS which was founded in 1943 to foster the science and art of natural resource conservation.

At the awards banquet, one of Baranski's former students, Catawba College alumna Oshen Sands '03, employed as a Watershed Conservationist by the USDA – National Resources Conservation Service, presented his award. Of Baranski, Sands said: "He is very well respected and labeled as one of those professors who are passionate about educating future generations and professionals about the environment that we live in.

"There is never a day in the classroom where you feel like the quality of education is less than par … at the end of the semester I was always thirsty for more learning. Dr. Baranski is an endless source of knowledge. He will go to great lengths or miles (literally) to show one special biological community in the middle of Green Swamp or one rare plant species on top of a mountain," Sands concluded.

Baranski was recently recognized at Catawba College through the establishment of the Michael J. Baranski Endowed Scholarship which will be awarded to a student majoring in environmental science. He was tapped in 2006 as Catawba's Bashore Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Science. This professorship is awarded for a two-year period to a faculty member in environmental science who is a high achiever as a scholar and teacher with outstanding qualifications and enthusiasm for his work and the students who are entrusted to him.

Born in Wheeling, W. Va., Baranski received his bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from West Liberty State College and his doctorate in ecology and botany from N.C. State University. He is a professional taxonomist and ecologist specializing in woody plants and natural areas who has written frequently for professional and technical publications and has worked on many environmental issues and projects utilizing his expertise.

Baranski is married to wife Julia and they are parents of two adult children.