Norm Arnold Award Recipients

Navigate to the recipients' biographies by clicking on their names. 

2020 Bill M. Plumpton
2019 Helene Merkel
2023 Dennis Peters

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William M. Plumpton – Second Norm Arnold Award for Outstanding Service

Bill has been a member for over 30 years (since 1989) and he has far more than the 5 -year requirement of responsible service. Bill became a Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) in 2003 and currently serves on the Certification Review Board. Provided below are highlights of Bill’s contribution to the NAEP as it relates to the award criteria .

Time and Effort

From 2006 – 2018, Bill served on the NAEP Board of Directors, both as a Pennsylvania Chapter Representative to the Board, as well as an at-large member. He also participates on the Chapters Committee where he served as the Vice Chair from 2006 to 2011, and he took over as the Chair of this committee in 2012.  Bill also serves as a member of the Finance Committee.

Inspiration and Leadership

As the Chapters Committee Chair, Bill promoted inclusivity and worked hard to ensure committee meetings are friendly and welcoming to all, particularly to new Chapter Representatives and Chapter Presidents. Bill planned and facilitated the Chapters Retreats in 2012 and 2017, and he will facilitate the upcoming Chapters Retreat in January 2020. The action items from the Chapters Retreats and the Chapter’s Pillar in the NAEP’s 2014 Strategic Plan have formed the basis for the Committee’s work, and as Committee Chair, Bill has worked to help ensure these action items have been fulfilled as reasonably possible.

In 2015, Bill led the revisions and renewal of the NAEP-Chapters Affiliation Agreement, and he continues to promote the aspirational responsibilities of both parties. To help grow the NAEP family, he promoted the start of new chapters in states or regions of the country without one and have supported those that have started new chapters.


As noted above, Bill has served on the NAEP Board for 12 years. His actions in support of the Board has been to ensure the long-term relevancy and financial health of NAEP. The majority of his service and impact on the direction and future of the NAEP has been delivered through the Chapters Committee. During Bill’s term as Committee Chair, he has been a long-standing advocate for the NAEP and Chapters, their mutually beneficial relationship, and the growth and prosperity of both. He has worked to ensure that Chapter representatives are fully engaged as members of the Board of Directors, ensure the benefits afforded to the Chapters are relevant and that Chapters take full advantage of the benefits offered by the NAEP, promoted membership in both the NAEP and Chapters and worked to start new Chapters in states or regions where Chapters do not currently exist.
As a member of the Board and the Finance Committee, Bill promoted the long-term financial health of the NAEP by helping to ensure that fiscally responsible budgets are developed and adopted, that NAEP’s actions during the year are guided by and remain within its annual budget, and regular contributions to the NAEP’s reserve fund are made.

Respectfully submitted by the Norm Arnold Award Nominating Committee: Audrey Binder (Chair), Marc Bruner, John Daugherty, Ron Deverman, Bruce Hasbrouck, John Irving, Gary Kelman, Helene Merkel, and John Perkins.

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Helene K. Merkel – First Norm Arnold Award for Oustanding Service

The Arnold award specifies minimum criteria: NAEP membership over 10 years, positions of responsibility within NAEP for five years, and CEP certification unless exempted. Helene has been a member for 18 years, and she has far more than five years of responsible service. The committee
recommends exemption from CEP certification, based on Helene’s extensive work as an environmental professional since 1983. The following are highlights of her match to additional criteria:

Time and Effort

Helene has served multiple years on the Board of Directors. At different times, she served as Secretary and as Vice President.

Helene has also been a member of the NEPA Working Group. From 1995 – 2007 and again in 2012 and 2017, she served on the national conference committees. In 1997, Helene chaired the Annual Conference in Orlando. She initiated and served as first chair of the Permanent Conference Committee.

Helene chaired the 2004 Elections Committee, and she was a member of the Awards Committee from 2000 – 2017.

Inspiration and Leadership

Helene’s multiple avenues of service to NAEP reflect the appreciation of its members for her inspiration and leadership. Ron Deverman noted the ways in which Helene embodied the traits of Norm Arnold: “[E]very time you interacted with [Norm] it was such a positive . . . experience, and Helene has had that warmth toward . . . all NAEP environmental professionals.” 

Helene’s outstanding service to NAEP has been recognized by multiple Presidents of NAEP: in 1999, 1997, and 2005.


During NAEP’s financial troubles in the late 1990s, Helene adapted to the circumstances and oversaw an excellent national conference, despite the extremely tight budgets.

Helene has also served to enhance the image of NAEP to a broader audience. John Perkins noted her willingness to teach a class on low impact development to his graduate students in environmental studies, an important outreach activity that encourages young professionals to meet high standards.

Helene also supported NAEP’s peer-reviewed journal as a Board member and a peer reviewer of manuscripts, another example of her efforts to keep NAEP at the highest standards of knowledge-based environmental work. 

Respectfully submitted by the Norm Arnold Award Nominating Committee: Audrey Binder (Chair), Marc Bruner, John Daugherty, Ron Deverman, Bruce Hasbrouck, John Irving, Gary Kelman, and John Perkins.

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