This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: John Gauvin

Elizabeth Putnam ’55 Receives 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal

On August 4 in a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama awarded Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam ’55 the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal for “performing exemplary deeds of service for her country and fellow citizens.” Putnam launched the American conservation service movement more than 50 years ago with the founding of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in 1957. She is the first conservationist to receive the Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian award, since its creation in 1969.

The idea for the SCA grew out of Putnam’s Vassar senior thesis, in which she conceived of a program that would enlist student volunteers to assist with upkeep at the national parks. Aided by Martha Hayne Talbot ’54, Putnam secured the interest and support of officials in the National Park Service and the first SCA volunteers arrived at Grand Teton and Olympic National Parks in 1957. Putnam, who recently received the Spirit of Vassar award from the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC), remains an active ambassador for SCA and a constant source of inspiration to its members, staff, and partners. She resides with her husband, Bruce, in Shaftsbury, VT.

September 2010

Back Issues