2013 Annual Meeting Awards Presentation

On Saturday, March 16 in Albuquerque, NM, the following Conservation Heroes were honored at the 2013 Annual Meeting Awards Dinner:

Affiliate of the Year – Conservation Council for Hawai‘i 

An NWF affiliate since 1971, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i (CCH) has been at the forefront of major campaigns to help recover imperiled Hawaiian plants and animals on the brink of extinction for over 60 years.

Guided by a dedicated board of directors and led by a dynamic and deeply committed Executive Director, CCH has launched numerous campaigns over the years seeking to protect rare and unique native species.  In the last 2 years, CCH has been instrumental in leading statewide efforts to raise public awareness and support for expanding critical habitat for the Hawaiian Monk Seal, America's most endangered marine mammal, and fight for its full recovery. In partnership with NWF, CCH has  worked tirelessly to raise the national visibility of this critically endangered species. Working closely with the Native Hawaiian community, CCH has been a key player in working to convince fishers that the seal is native to Hawaiian waters and is an integral part of Hawaiian history, culture and heritage.  CCH is currently a plaintiff in ongoing legal action to compel the State of Hawai‘i to prepare an environmental assessment or impact statement for issuing permits to collect fish and invertebrates for the aquarium trade.

CCH was lead plaintiff in three successful lawsuits under the federal Endangered Species Act to obtain the listing of over 250 Hawaiian plants and animals as threatened or endangered species and designation of critical habitat for dozens of these species. CCH was also one of the lead organizations on the E Ho‘omau! Campaign to perpetuate our cultural and natural heritage by securing permanent adequate funding for the State Natural Area Reserves System (NARS), a program to protect over 19 reserves supporting rare and endangered Hawaiian plants and animals, cultural sites, and geologic features. CCH continues to raise awareness about the serious consequences of climate change on the island’s fragile ecosystems and about the extreme threat native wildlife faces from invasive rodents, ungulates and other non-native species that prey on native species and destroy native foraging habitat.  Since the 1970s, CCH has produced an annual wildlife poster distributed free to all Hawai‘i schools.  The wildlife posters began as part of NWF’s National Wildlife Week.

CCH sets the bar for scientifically grounded positions on critical wildlife issues and works diligently to make sure all voices are brought to the table in the efforts to protect Hawai'i's endangered native wildlife.

Special Achievement – Sandy Greene

For decades, Sandy Greene has taught adults and children the importance of environmental stewardship with imagination and joy. For the twelve years she has served as Education Specialist at the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District in Verona, VA , Sandy has partnered with local, state and federal agencies, and the school systems themselves, to provide over 200 field trips for 22,000 students, in addition to over 300 classroom presentations, 50 teacher workshops and tours and 78 civic programs.  For many years she worked at The Wildlife Center of Virginia, coordinating field trips.  Recognizing the watershed connections between their farm and the Shenandoah River, Sandy and her husband walk the talk, with riparian buffers, wildlife plantings and solar power. Sandy has served on a variety of Boards, including the Shenandoah Valley Pure Water Forum and the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Education Committee, taught summer courses and teacher workshops, and often coordinated outdoors experiences for students, teachers and the general public.  Sandy was appointed by two governors to The Foundation for Virginia’s Natural Resources, and is a certified Virginia Master Naturalist. She was named National Outstanding Environmental Educator of the year in 2006 by Project Learning Tree, and received the National Education Award in 2007 from the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Now retired, Sandy is busier than ever, volunteering with partners and agencies on behalf of the natural and wild areas around us.

Special Achievement – Connie Harvey 

Protecting the wild lands, wildlife habitat, and clean water of the spectacular Rocky Mountain high country has been Connie Harvey’s life’s work ever since she and her husband, Dr. Harold Harvey, moved their family to Aspen in 1959. As one of the founders of the Aspen Wilderness Workshop in 1967, Connie helped to protect over 670,000 acres as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System for future generations. She helped start the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board, which now owns or holds conservation easements on over 18,000 acres of private land, as well as many miles of hiking and biking trails. Connie’s family also placed a permanent conservation easement on their 1,850 acre ranch in 2006, ensuring it can remain a working cattle ranch and unspoiled backdrop to the Maroon Bells wilderness.

Her numerous awards include recognition as a “wilderness hero” in the film “Forever Wild: Celebrating America’s Wilderness”, induction into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 2006 for her conservation achievements, the E-Town E- Chievement award in 2009 for her work as the co-founder of the Aspen Wilderness Workshop, and the Sojourner Salutes award from Aspen Sojourner Magazine in 2009. Connie has inspired generations of environmental advocates to never give up and to speak truth to power. She serves on the Maki Foundation and New-Land Foundation boards making grants to protect public lands and the environment. For over ten years, she wrote an environmental column for the Aspen Daily News, bringing her knowledge, wisdom, and wit about the environment to a wide audience. Connie’s latest fight is against a hydropower plant the city of Aspen is planning that would devastate the lower reaches and wetlands of both Castle and Maroon Creeks.

Special Achievement – Hal Herring

Hal Herring is an award-winning journalist and contributing editor at Field and Stream magazine. He has written for publications that range from the Atlantic Monthly and the Economist, to High Country News and Conservation Magazine, to Creative Nonfiction and Orion, and specializes in deeply reported, long-form journalism stories and essays with a primary focus on conservation.

Through Field and Stream, Hal covered two of the "Best Wild Places" tours, a partnership between the magazine and Trout Unlimited, which drew attention to our country's best public lands sporting destinations and described the persistent threats to these places. Hal wrote for Field and Stream about fishing and hiking Colorado’s Roan Plateau, where natural gas drilling threatens native Colorado River cutthroat trout, and about horsepacking into the Clearwater country of north-central Idaho, home to the largest swath of unprotected backcountry left in the Lower 48.  Hal has been a leading advocate for NWF’s Vanishing Paradise program, a campaign to unite the national sportsmen’s and women’s community behind restoration of the greatest wetlands complex in our country, and has authored numerous articles and stories on Mississippi River Delta restoration and coastal Louisiana land loss.

Hal’s work has helped to ensure that these issues, and the efforts of dedicated conservation professionals, citizen volunteers, and scientists to address them, are understood by the millions of people who are directly affected.  A common thread in his work is one of the most basic ideas in conservation: that human beings exist within, and depend upon, the great net of ecology, that one cannot tug one string without moving the entirety, and that our everyday lives, our children’s lives, and our heritage are directly affected by how we conduct ourselves in relationship to the natural world that sustains all life on our planet.

A lifelong outdoorsman, mountaineer, hunter and fisherman, Hal lives with his wife and children in Augusta, Montana.

Youth - Jessica Howe  

Jessica Howe, a senior at Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington, has demonstrated her continual commitment and growing passion for environmental sustainability, her leadership amongst her peers, and her dedication to inspiring younger students in environmental programs. Among her many achievements as the president of Bothell High School’s Earth Club, Jessica helped build up the school’s recycling program and the Earth Club’s native plant habitat, led the Earth Club to reach level two in the King County Green Schools program, educated peers on better recycling practices, organized Earth Hour, and represented the Earth Club at the first ever local Green Team Summit. Besides improving Bothell High School’s sustainability, Jessica has been working to inspire younger students to live conservatively at her junior high school where she had first began attending trail parties to remove invasive plants. She helped organize Skyview Junior High’s Green Team, worked alongside them to obtain the NWF Eco-Schools Green Flag Award, mentored students through the school’s first ever Naturalist in Training certification program, and helped expand the school’s Environmental Learning Center. Jessica has also been involved with other local environmental groups and volunteered at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue, WA as a Naturalist in Training during their summer camps teaching younger children about the joys of nature.  In continuing her conservation efforts, Jessica has tied her senior culminating project into her work in the Skyview Environmental Center.

Volunteer of the Year - Phil Taunton

Since retiring from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Phil Taunton has made it a priority to inspire youth and families to get outdoors.  Through his web radio show, “What’s In Outdoors,” Phil spreads his message across the internet of the importance of wildlife conservation and getting today’s youth involved and outside.  Phil writes a weekly outdoor adventure column and teaches hunter education and firearms safety. He is also active in environmental programs such as Green School Initiatives, ECO-Meets, and Environthon competitions. Stirred by his love of the outdoors, Phil addressed the Kansas state legislature urging renewed efforts to ensure Kansas children have abundant educational opportunities to connect with nature, to help prepare them to be responsible stewards of our land for the future.  Phil has served on the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s Board of Directors for 10 years, helped to draft the No Child Left Inside executive order, and has written many articles on the importance of youth appreciating nature.  Phil is a volunteer by trade and his calendar is always filled well in advance with the numerous activities and events he gives his time to. 

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