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Conservation Leaders Honored with 2012 Refuge System Awards

Washington D.C. – The National Wildlife Refuge Association and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation today announced the honorees for the prestigious annual Refuge System awards. The awards honor the Refuge Manager, Refuge Employee, Refuge Volunteer and Friends Group of the Year.

“The Refuge System could not function, let alone be the bright star of conservation in the United States that it is, if it weren’t for dedicated individuals and groups like these,” said Evan Hirsche, NWRA president.

Being honored this year are:

Charles A. Pelizza has been selected as the recipient of the Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year for his leadership, professionalism and advocate of conservation leading to the creation of the Everglades Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area earlier this year. Charlie’s 32-year career with the NWRS sets a standard for other staff and managers to follow.  As the refuge manager for the Pelican Island NWR Complex, his conservation vision attracted the attention of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and led to Charlie receiving the “Champion of the Everglades” Award in 2011.

Kathleen “Kate” O’Brien will receive the Employee of the Year Award. Kate is the wildlife biologist at the Rachel Carson NWR in Maine where her tireless work with the endangered New England cottontail rabbit and her work globally with the rare saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrows is unparalleled. Kate is a leader and a biologist to the core and is considered an expert in migratory bird research and management by her peers.

David Govatski will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award. David has committed himself to a lifetime of public service including more than 25 years with the United States military where he retied as a master sergeant with the Vermont Army National Guard. He concurrently served for 30 years as a forester and fire and aviation manager officer for the U.S. Forest Service. He volunteers at the Silvio O. Conte NF&WR and also volunteers his time at the White Mountain national Forest.

The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is being honored as the Friends Group of the Year. This group works closely with refuge staff at the Alligator River and Pea Island NWRs in North Carolina, and is actively involved in engaging current and future wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.  The CWRS was a founding partner in the annual Wings over Water Festival, which helps coordinate programs on two national seashores, four national wildlife refuges, and two state parks, and is in its 15th year running.   Proceeds from the event support a transportation grant program that pays for school buses and drivers to bring students to local national wildlife refuges. The group also sponsors wildlife clubs for hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students.

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

For additional information about this award and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, please visit: http://refugeassociation.org/people/awards/

For additional information about the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation visit: http://www.nfwf.org

Contact: Tony Dolle, 615-870-7700, jadolle53@gmail.com

Press releases on individual awards are available for Refuge Manager of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Friends Group of the Year.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2012/02/nwrs-awards/