On November 1, 2021, members of The Garden Club of Virginia convened at the historic panorama known as “The View That Named Richmond” to present Scenic Virginia Executive Director Leighton Powell with the 2021 Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Conservation, an honor given annually for outstanding work in conservation to an organization, industry, or individual who is not a Garden Club of Virginia member.
Writes Jane Edwards, the GCV’s 2021 Conservation Awards Chairman:
Leighton Powell’s life’s work has focused on promoting and preserving the scenic beauty of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As executive director of Scenic Virginia, Powell has been a stalwart conservationist and preservationist, working tirelessly to protect significant historic and scenic vistas throughout the state.
Founded in 1998 by ardent conservationist and visionary Hylah H. Boyd of The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton, Scenic Virginia is the only statewide conservation organization dedicated solely to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of our Commonwealth’s scenic beauty. Since 2000, Powell has led the organization by promoting the physical, emotional, and economic benefits of scenic beauty. Programs such as the annual Virginia Vistas Photo Contest showcase the immense variety of Virginia’s extraordinary scenic assets; the yearly Scenic Awards Program honors achievement in scenic preservation. (Scenic Virginia recognized the Garden Club of Virginia as its Scenic Hero in 2004.)
Powell’s relentless work to save “The View That Named Richmond” rallied conservationists to speak out against inappropriate development that would mar this iconic view of the James River that inspired William Byrd II to name his new Virginia settlement Richmond (due to its strong resemblance to the view of the River Thames in Richmond-upon-Thames, England). The multi-year battle to preserve “The View” inspired Powell and Scenic Virginia to develop a new multi-pronged project to assist Virginians in identifying their most treasured views and vistas sooner rather than later to avoid future development fights. The resulting Virginia Viewshed Project is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is being heralded by visual resource professionals as a much-needed tool for local scenic preservation.
At the Dugdale Award presentation ceremony on November 1 at The View That Named Richmond, Powell stated, “I can think of no other Award that would be as meaningful to receive as the Dugdale, and I was actually rendered speechless when I got the call because of what it represents. Scenic Virginia’s roots are in The Garden Club of Virginia, and it has been a complete joy and honor to work so closely for 21 years with the fantastic, brilliant women of the GCV. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this Award.”
Leighton was nominated by Jeanette McKittrick of the Three Chopt Garden Club in Richmond.
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