The 2015 Refuge System Award winners are:
Read the full National Wildlife Refuge System Awards press release here.
Tom Kerr: The Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award
Mr. Kerr, Refuge Manager at St. Croix Wetland Management District and Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year for his dedication to the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his ability to engage and connect with the local community. Kerr began his career in 1989 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Cooperative Student and Refuge Operations Specialist at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. He became the Refuge Manager at St. Croix Wetland Management District in 2007, gaining the additional responsibility of managing Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge in 2008. Kerr has worked closely with the Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District since the group’s establishment in 2010, one of the many partnerships he has spearheaded in the community. These collaborations help bridge the gap between the public and the wetland management district, and in the case of the refuge’s partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, USGS, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kerr helps promote wildlife conservation through restoration. Kerr publishes a biweekly newspaper column about activities and projects on the refuge and routinely gives presentations to the local community to continue to raise awareness about the refuge. He is also engaged in recognizing and developing the strengths of his staff. Read Mr. Kerr’s full press release here.
John Vradenburg: Employee of the Year Award
Mr. Vradenburg will receive the Employee of the Year Award for his outstanding work as the Supervisory Biologist at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Vradenburg’s dedication to the refuge and its conservation efforts is clear. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to not only ensure the conservation of sensitive species, but also to involve the public in conservation efforts. In his nine years on the refuge, Vradenburg has improved the soil quality and the water drawdown system to increase native vegetation and prevent the spread of invasives. Vradenburg’s foresight and drive have also benefitted local wildlife. He began a management plan on the refuge for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse before it was listed in 2014 and thus positioned the refuge in a much better place to aid in the recovery. Vradenburg is also considered a leader in the community, continuously providing opportunities for the area youth to learn on the refuge. Always looking to accomplish more for wildlife, Mr. Vradenburg is the epitome of the ideal biologist. He looks for ways to advance conservation efforts on the refuge despite a shrinking budget, he doesn’t quit, and has a positive personality that bring people along with him to face whatever challenges lie ahead. Read Mr. Vradenburg’s full press release here.
Wiley ‘Dub’ Lyon: The Volunteer of the Year Award
Wiley ‘Dub’ Lyon will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his unwavering support for the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Over the past 7 years as a dedicated volunteer, Mr. Lyon has demonstrated a commitment to the refuge, donating his time and services whenever and wherever needed. After building his own home and retiring from American Airlines where he supervised aircraft landing, take-off, and maintenance, Mr. Lyon found a place where he could apply his many skills – Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. After donating 1,168 hours in his first 8 months, it was apparent Mr. Lyon was not an average refuge volunteer. Mr. Lyon serves as the volunteer coordinator and has organized the annual Friends meeting and Refuge Volunteer Awards ceremony, worked with other volunteers to make sure teachers were able to schedule environmental education programs, and collected public use data. He is also skilled at finding cost-effective ways to accomplish repair jobs. Mr. Lyon has been elected as President of the Friends of Balcones twice and was elected to the Board of Directors for the past 6 years. Read Mr. Lyon’s full press release here.
Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award
The Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico will receive the Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award. The 2015 award was renamed to honor the late Molly Krival – a pioneer of the Friends movement. The Friends of the Bosque del Apache coordinates the annual Festival of the Cranes, an event that draws more than 6,000 people from around the world and generates $2.5 million, making it the greatest income-generating event in the county. The Friends also provide environmental education opportunities for students from the surrounding community. Active advocates for the refuge and the Refuge System, the Friends visit Capitol Hill, host events for legislators on the refuge, and write letters to their representatives. Read the Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge’s full press release here.