GLENS FALLS - More than 100 people gathered at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls on the evening of Nov. 14 to honor longtime Long Lake educator John R. Collins, Jr.
Collins, who taught at Long Lake Central School for 26 years and served on the APA board for 11 years, was honored for his work in education, community, and building and wilderness preservation. He received the Howard Zahniser Adirondack Award by the directors of Protect the Adirondacks! at their Forever Wild dinner.
Collins also served as a member of the board and as executive director at the Adirondack Museum as well as a trustee and president at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.
In his acceptance speech, Collins was typically modest, crediting his family, chance and proximity to teachers and other influential people in his life for any success he had in teaching, community planning and environmental protection in the Adirondacks.
Protect the Adirondacks! Director Dean Cook from Ticonderoga noted John's, "determination and courage under-fire in, for example, the founding of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks in 1990." Chair of Protect the Adirondacks! Charles M. Clusen noted that Collins chaired the Adirondack Park Agency's Interpretive Programs committee, which led to the creation of the Visitor Interpretive Centers at Paul Smith's and Newcomb.
Some of Collins' students at Long Lake Central School gathered for the occasion. Ten of them wrote a collective history through Facebook, which read: "John Collins made an indelible impression on the students passing through his classroom. He went out of his way to encourage those who didn't embrace traditional modes of learning. He initiated our first relationship with the great outdoors by exposing students to their own backyard, the Adirondacks...we thank him for instilling in us a fever for knowledge and an appreciation for what we may have ignored had he not been there to open the door."
Members of the Collins family who joined the celebration included John's wife Ellen Collins, daughters Cathleen and Sara, cousin Beth Collins and sister Barbara Wetzel and members of her family. Representatives from numerous organizations and local businesses also attended.
The Howard Zahniser Adirondack Award was established by the late Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer and is named for the author of the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964, Howard Zahniser.