2015 John Muir Conservation Awards
Our 38th consecutive year!
The 2015 awards will be presented at the John Muir Birthday–Earth Day Celebration at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California
Saturday, April 23, 2016
|Artwork by Rex Burris – Conservation Legacy Award
John H. Hartig, Conservationist of the Year
Dr. John Hartig, a limnologist, has over 30 years of experience in advocacy, environmental education, restoration, the environment, or other conservation efforts. He currently serves as Refuge Manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and serves on the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Board of Directors. He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications on the environment, including four books: Bringing Conservation to Cities: Lessons from Building the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge; Burning Rivers: Revival of Four Urban Industrial Rivers that Caught Fire; Honoring our Detroit River, Caring for Our Home; and Under RAPs: Toward Grassroots Ecological Democracy in the Great Lakes Basin.
Rex Burress, Conservation Legacy Award
A lifelong conservationist, John Muir was Rex Burress’ inspiration. Rex’s mission became “to entice others to look at nature’s loveliness with understanding” through nature walks, writings and art. Rex worked as Refuge Naturalist/Bird Keeper/Program Facilitator at the Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge/Rotary Nature Center until 1993. Retiring to Oroville, Rex continues to give nature walks and programs, write nature columns and pursue his art. He authored and illustrated two books, Of a Feather and Life On No Creek. A gifted wildlife artist, he also painted a portrait of John Muir, which hangs in a Green Bay, Wisconsin, museum.
Worth A Dam, Environmental Education Award
Founded in 2008 by Heidi Perryman, Worth A Dam is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the value, importance and contributions of beavers in the ecosystem. Heidi, through Worth A Dam, focuses her educational approach on the fact that co-existing with beavers insures the strength of the overall ecosystems of creeks and surrounding areas. Worth A Dam’s co-existence model has been adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and most recently Napa, have adopted the model. Heidi has co-authored numerous published articles regarding beavers. Worth A Dam founded the Martinez Beaver Festival, now in its 8th year, with a wide breadth of wildlife and conservation groups, which helps raise awareness of protecting wildlife and preserving healthy environments and ecosystems.
Vineyard Team, Nonprofit Conservation Award
For over 20 years, the Vineyard Team has bee working with growers to be more sustainable. The Vineyard Team developed a Sustainability in Practice (SiP) Certification, which is “a sustainable vineyard and wine certification with strict, non-negotiable standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency and absence of conflict of interest”. They focus on the “3 P’s of Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity”. They measure ten areas of practice: (1) conservation and enhancement of biological diversity; (2) vineyard establishment and management; (3) soil conservation and water quality; (4) water resources and conservation; (5) energy conservation and efficiency; (6) air quality; (7) social equity; (8) pest management; (9) continuing education; and (10) product assurance and business sustainability. Vineyard Team has won numerous awards for their work, the most recent of which was Green Industry Hall of Fame Inductee (2016).
Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Conservation Initiative Award
Since August 2014, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful (KCCB), has mobilized the San Jose community to clean up Coyote Creek. It reached the goal of 50 tons of trash removal (the equivalent of 50 small cars) in October 2015. The feat was accomplished through bringing “related community groups and public agencies affiliated with Coyote Creek to take action towards restoring the creek through cleanups and plantings, recreation and cultural activities, and educational partnerships. It is funded by a partnership grant from the City of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.” Per Deb Kramer of KCCB, the focus is not just on the initial cleanup, but also the maintenance and restoration afterward. Environmental, as well as historical, education about the creek is part of KCCB’s educational program. Monthly events are planned to which a multitude of volunteers has responded. Partner organizations include dozens of South Bay high schools, San Jose State University students and faculty, De Anza College faculty, the Coyote Creek neighborhood association, Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council, US Marine Corps, and the Downtown Streets Team. Watershed tours and organizations offering expertise and organization significantly expand the active partnerships.
Camilla Fox, Conservationist of the Year
Camilla is the Founder and Executive Director of the Coyote Project, a nonprofit organization based in Marin, California. Her nomination described her as a “passionate crusader” promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy.
Project Coyote, a North American coalition of wildlife scientists, educators, predator-friendly ranchers and community leaders, works to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other native carnivores.
U.S. Congressman George Miller, Conservation Legacy Award
The John Muir Association has bestowed this award in honor of Congressman Miller’s 40 years of public service and his role as a champion of the environment and conservation in our great country.
One of the last bills he introduced during his long career was H.R. 5699 (113th): John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act. He was just 29 years old when first elected in 1974. The John Muir Association is pleased to bestow this award in honor of his distinguished career.
River Otter Ecology Project, Nonprofit Conservation Award
The mission of the Project is to illustrate the linkages between the recovery of local river otter populations and healthy watersheds, and foster public and organizational participation in restoration and conservation.
The volunteer-driven organization’s goal is to secure a viable future for river otters in Central California through ecological research, environmental education and strategic restoration partnerships. Through research, the group is determining the conservation status, ecology and basic health information for river otter populations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Project fosters its goals through research, education and the citizen-science “Otter Spotter” program.
Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project, Environmental Education Conservation Award
The Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP) is a program of the Ukiah Unified School District, and each year more than 2,000 students (1st through 6th grade) visit the program’s 45-acre woodland site for nature-based learning.
RVOEP is not funded by the district, but is supported by the Ukiah community. All of the project’s classes tie to California State Science Standards. Students work with scientists, birding experts and other environmental educators. Fun and exciting activities connect children to nature and echo throughout the year.
Abby Bloomfield,Youth Conservation Award
Abby is a junior in high school who has made significant environmental contributions to her community in Boulder, Colorado. As president of Fairview High School’s Net Zero environmental club, she has led and completed numerous projects, such as: leading an initiative to support new regulations for oil and gas production as proposed by the Air Pollution Control Division of Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment, leading efforts to obtain water bottle refilling stations at her school, educating others about bees, writing a grant for fruit trees for her school, and others.
Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie, Conservationists of the Year
Tom and Darren co-founded Sonoma Birding based in Sonoma Valley, California, in 2004 as a volunteer “citizen science” conservation organization. Sonoma Birding established sustainable bird and nature-related activities and programs for all ages through a variety of partnerships in the United States and Canada. Tom and Darren established the first Audubon Christmas Bird Count for Sonoma Valley and the Wine Country Nature Lecture Series and have created numerous science-based, bird-related programs for children, including the Point Reyes Bird Festival Birdathon for Kids. Tom and Darren hosted the California Western Burrowing Owl Consortium and partnered with the Sonoma Land Trust, AmeriCorps and ranchers to establish burrowing owl habitats. In 2012 and 2013, they organized the Wine County Optics and Nature Festival, attracting over 1,000 people each year.
Malcolm Sproul, Conservation Legacy Award
Malcolm Sproul is a lifelong conservationist and experienced field naturalist who has been active in Golden Gate Audubon, Preserve Lamorinda Open Space, Save San Francisco Bay, and in 1993 joined the Board of Save Mount Diablo. Malcolm was elected president in 1998 and for 12 years presided over the organization as it became a leader in land conservation and advocacy in Contra Costa County, California. He also served as an advisor for the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan guiding endangered species protection and is a leading expert on predatory birds. Malcolm Sproul works for LSA Associates, a natural resource management/environmental planning consulting firm, where he focuses on endangered species and wetlands issues.
South Brunswick High School Aquaculture Program, Environmental Education Conservation Award
The South Brunswick High School Aquaculture Program in Brunswick County, North Carolina is a saltwater and freshwater hatchery program with a goal to increase southern flounder while educating students. Under Byron “Barry” Bey’s leadership, the program provides students with hands-on experience with fisheries management science, environmental awareness, and community support, including practicalities such as stock enhancement through coordination with local government. The students also rose to the challenge to “go green” to enhance energy conservation and efficiency by using solar power to generate electricity to power the aerators for fish production ponds. The students plan to use waste water from the ponds to fertilize an eco-friendly putting green, pitching and driving range on the fish farm for both school and public use.
The Regal Swan Foundation, Nonprofit Conservation Award
The Regal Swan Foundation, Inc. (RSF), a nonprofit based in Florida, is recognized as a world leader in swan research, veterinary care, and conservation. Founded in 1999, RSF is comprised of more than 30 volunteer members, including veterinarians, scientists, college professors, and other professionals. All funds received go into veterinary medical care for swans, food supplies, education, research, and advocacy for the treatment and care of swans worldwide, both wild and captive. RSF volunteers have made strides in medical research and care of swans, developed handbooks and educational curricula, and unique veterinary swan products, such as slings and temporary, fold-up pens for the care of sick or injured swans, and created a 24-hour website, “Ask the Swan Specialist”, for free swan consultation.
Simran Vedvyas, Youth Environmental Conservation Award
Simran, a youth living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, established the youth group, SynergY, to provide opportunities for young people to participate in environmental events, such as the Earth Hour Events, cleanup drives, and tree planting initiatives. In 2011, she was a speaker at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi and has since been actively engaged in promoting the Eye on Environmental Education. She travelled to Rio +20 as Youth Ambassador for Eye on Earth. In 2013, she was the youngest panelist at the United Nations headquarters to celebrate International Youth Day 2013. Simran was also elected to be trained by former Vice President Al Gore at the Climate Reality Corps in Chicago, Illinois, held in August, 2013.
Lee Stetson, Conservationist of the Year
For 30 years, Lee Stetson has been the preeminent theatrical interpreter of the famous naturalist, John Muir. His memorable performances and personal connection has influenced generations to follow the path of environmental conservation. He was an original member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Lee has portrayed Muir in the Ken Burns series The National Parks: America's Best Idea, and was profiled in a PBS documentary entitled "Lee Stetson: The Voice of John Muir."
Dr. L. Martin Griffin, Jr., Legacy Conservation Award
Dr. Marty Griffin’s actions have inspired positive actions by others. His efforts in the 1960s to save one of the largest heron habitats on the West Coast and co-found the nonprofit, Audubon Canyon Ranch, led to purchasing valuable wildlife habitat in Tomales Bay. In the ‘70s, he helped create the Environmental Forum of Marin which trains "ordinary folks" to become knowledgeable and articulate advocates for the environment. In the ‘90s he turned his attentions to the Russian River and founded multiple organizations to preserve the Russian River eco-system.
Divya Karnad, Environmental Education Conservation Award
Through her conservation work in India, Divya Karnad, helped conserve more than 500,000 sea turtles through community-based conservation programs. She built an India-wide network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and fishing communities interested in marine conservation. As an environmental journalist, Divya has reached out to a wide audience, writing articles on marine conservation issues for a variety of national and international publications. Her work has inspired many budding conservationists.
Pavan Raj Gowda, Youth Environmental Conservation Award
In 2008, when Pavan Raj Gowda was eight years old, he founded Green Kids Now to raise awareness on environmental issues and to take action. He has published two children's books with environmental messages. Pavan also gives presentations at school assemblies and public events and provides guidelines to help schools obtain the Green Star Award offered by many cities and counties for environmental sustainability. Pavan established the Green Kids Conference to showcase kids’ efforts and help them learn about the latest developments in environmental science.
Mt. View Sanitary District, Public Agency Conservation Award
The Mt. View Sanitary District became the first treatment plant on the West Coast to use treated effluent to create wetland habitat (1974), and pioneered the use of UV light for effluent disinfection in Northern California, which enabled the District to discontinue use of environmentally hazardous chemicals including chlorine, sulfur dioxide and anhydrous ammonia. The District's treated effluent flows through a series of marshes, which have become wildlife habitat for more than 200 species. In 2003, the District was the first publicly owned treatment works in the San Francisco Bay Area to be certified as a Green Business.
Muir Glen Organic, Business Conservation Award
Named after John Muir, the Muir Glen Organic brand was founded in 1991 by socially committed entrepreneurs with extensive experience in organic agriculture. Muir Glen funds research through the nonprofit organization Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and is working in conjunction with the UC Davis School of Agriculture to better understand Colony Collapse Disorder in order to improve agricultural practices that support pollinator habitats.
Clifford Dzidonu, Youth Conservationist of the Year
Clifford has been a leader for conservation projects in his native Ghana for about eight years. He began by inspiring and organizing youth in various communities to plant teak and other trees. By 2005, his efforts lead to 60,000 trees being planted. And in 2006, he helped establish a nursery to grow 50,000 teak seedlings; 40,000 were planted nearby and he distributed the rest to other communities. Clifford’s efforts support the forest ecosystem, native wildlife and the local economy in numerous ways, and he has accomplished all of this at a young age. Clifford is only 16 years old.
KIDS for the BAY, Environmental Education Conservation Award
KIDS for the BAY (KftB) targets low-income, underserved elementary schools in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties for hands-on, action-oriented environmental education. Their program goals include turning students on to science, connecting students with nature and empowering them to take environmental action. Students not only learn about environmental issues, they learn that they can make positive change and be a solution for an environmental problem in their neighborhood. Since 1992, KftB has provided environmental education to 52,000 students and more than 6,000 parents.
Wild at Heart, Nonprofit Conservation Award
Wild at Heart is an all-volunteer raptor rescue organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Arizona’s native wildlife. Their facilities are always open to assist raptors needing medical treatment. Their projects include burrowing owl habitat restoration and active relocation of owls threatened by development. The organization also has a program to bring the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl back from the brink of extinction. Wild at Heart is a strong proponent of education by taking non-releasable raptors to schools and events, and by providing and a Junior Volunteer program.
Back to the Roots, Business Conservation Award
Back to the Roots developed a way to use the tons of coffee-ground waste generated daily as a medium for a nutritious and popular food product: specialty mushrooms. Founded by two UC Berkeley students, the business collects 20,000 lbs. of coffee grounds per week and produces 500 pounds of fresh mushrooms, sold through farmers’ markets and Whole Foods stores. The coffee medium replaces wood chips, saving trees and diverting methane-producing waste from the landfill. The Oakland-based business spreads the message of sustainability, and to “rethink the standard way of doing business.”
Jay Holcomb, Conservationist of the Year
Jay Holcomb’s 24 years of leadership at the International Bird Rescue Research Center has been vital to its work of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in crisis around the world. The Center has rescued birds and other wildlife from more than 200 oil spills—including the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig explosion off the Louisiana coast in 2010—saving tens of thousands wild animals.
NatureBridge, Environmental Education Conservation Award
NatureBridge inspires youth to have a personal connection to the natural world and take responsible actions to sustain it. NatureBridge is the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service, with four environmental education campuses serving more than 40,000 participants annually: Yosemite Institute, Headlands Institute, Olympic Park Institute, and Santa Monica Mountains Institute.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Nonprofit Conservation Award
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a critical area resource for wildlife rehabilitation, conservation and environmental education. For more than 50 years, the Museum has fostered the next generation of environmentally aware citizens, and provided medical services and rehabilitation for injured or orphaned wild animals. Each year, the Lindsay provides informative classes and trips, offers programs to schools, treats more than 5,000 native wild animals and hosts 100,000 visitors.
Beaver Solutions LLC, Business Conservation Award
Beaver Solutions LLC provides humane, ecological solutions to conflicts between beaver activities and humans. The company installs flow devices in beaver dams to protect against flooding while allowing the beavers to remain in their environment. The company also educates the public about beavers’ importance as a keystone species providing essential wetlands for fish, birds and mammals.
Jeff Alvarez, Conservationist of the Year
Jeff Alvarez was recognized for his volunteer work on behalf of wildlife and the environment. He has trained professional peers in federal permitting issues for special-status species, lent his expertise to the Agricultural and Natural Resource Land Trust of Contra Costa County, the Biological Field Studies Association, the Mt. View Sanitation District, and many others. He is currently fulfilling a ten-year volunteer commitment to assisting CASA Avian Support Alliance in Belize.
David Loeb, Environmental Education Conservation Award
David Loeb is the founder and driving force behind accessible, high-quality publications about the San Francisco Bay Area regional environment. Since 2001, Loeb has served as Editor and Publisher of Bay Nature magazine and Executive Director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. The impact of providing accurate and interesting environmental information to policymakers and agencies as well as individuals is significant.
East Bay Regional Park District, Nonprofit or Public Agency Conservation Award
The East Bay Regional Park District received its award for 75 years of protecting and stewarding land, and its outstanding recreational and educational opportunities for the public. Created in 1934 in the depths of the Great Depression, the park district has grown to be the largest regional park district in the nation, spanning 100,000 acres with 65 parks and more than 1,150 miles of trails. Six interpretive centers offer educational programs throughout the year.
T. Marzetti Company, Business Conservation Award
The T. Marzetti Company, maker of salad dressings, dips and other food items, has reduced its carbon footprint by reducing energy, waste and water consumption. The company also installed more efficient lighting, reduced packaging, improved shipment efficiency to reduce fuel consumption and reviews the carbon cost of acquiring ingredients for its products. These efforts are a model for a sustainable future.
Amy Meyer, Conservationist of the Year
Amy Meyer was one of the founders of People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which led to the Congressional authorization of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972. She has mobilized thousands of citizens and myriad groups to support the establishment of the GGNRA
Brett Plater, Environmental Education Conservation Award
Brett Plater founded and directed the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Endangered Species Big Year in 2007-2008. This innovative, hands-on program raised awareness and appreciation for the large concentrations of endangered species within the GGNRA.
John Muir’s Birthplace, Nonprofit or Public Agency Conservation Award
John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar, Scotland was established as a visitor education center and much more. Birthplace staff work to provide visitors and community members with an increased environmental awareness by inspiring them to follow in John Muir’s footsteps, care for the environment and practice sustainable living.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Business Conservation Award
PG&E received the award for its Environmental Stewardship Program. The company has forged a number of partnerships to permanently protect open space, fund projects at California parks, conserve and enhance habitat, and other endeavors.
Lennie Roberts, Conservationist of the Year
Lennie Roberts serves as the San Mateo County Advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills, a volunteer position for this influential nonprofit organization. Lennis Roberts was honored for her tireless advocacy for the environment, which echoes John Muir’s lifelong work.
Rona Zollinger, Environmental Education Conservation Award
Educator Rona Zollinger was honored for her creation of an innovative program serving at-risk youth in Martinez, California, which she heads through the Environmental Studies Academy. The students are involved in major habitat restoration projects, study and propagate native plants, and deliver lessons to younger students about issues such as recycling, native plants and local ecology.
GreenInfo Network, Nonprofit Conservation Award
GreenInfo Network provides high-quality GIS mapping and analytical services to public agencies and nonprofit organizations. GreenInfo Network was honored for their services, which are invaluable in helping environmental and public agencies reach their goals by providing unique and essential tools for preserving our natural resources.
Bank of America, Business Conservation Award
Bank of America, a world-wide financial institution, was honored for its 10-year, $20 billion environmental initiative, which encourages development of environmentally sustainable business practices through lending, investing, philanthropy and the creation of environmental products and services.
Dr. Bonnie Gisel
Curator of the Sierra Club Le Conte Memorial Lodge, Yosemite National Park, honored for her contributions to John Muir through her work in Yosemite, written works about John Muir, activities with the John Muir Mountain Day Camp, and organization of the 2001 John Muir: Family and Friends and Adventure conference sponsored by the University of the Pacific.
Igor and Shirley Skaredoff
Honored for their contributions to the restoration of Alhambra Creek, leadership in Friends of Alhambra Creek and the Watershed Forum, and activities with the Alhambra Creek Restoration and Environmental Education Collaborative.
Honored as the designer of the John Muir-Yosemite California State Quarter conceptual design.
Honored for her work at the Lindsey Wildlife Museum.
Mike and Cecil Williams
Owners of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Pleasant Hill, honored for educating Bay Area residents about the value and importance of backyard wildlife habitat.
Vacaville Mayor David Fleming, Vacaville City Manager John Thompson, previous Dixon Mayor Don Erickson and previous Dixon City Manager David Harris
Honored for efforts resulting in a Northern California Interstate 80 greenbelt preserving farmland against urban growth.
Honored for his efforts with Save Mount Diablo.
Honored for contributions about Muir and the environment as outdoor writer for the Contra Costa Times.
B. “Moose” Peterson
Honored for wildlife photography promoting conservation.
Richard F. Dale
Honored for his work with the Sonoma Ecology Center.
Honored for efforts establishing John Muir Day, the John Muir Day Study Guide, the John Muir Exhibit Internet Website, and the Sierra Club John Muir Education Project.
Justice Wakefield Taylor
Honored as a founder of the John Muir Memorial Association who remained active in the group for many years.
Christina N. Batt
Honored for her preservation efforts through the Martinez Land Trust, now called the Muir Heritage Land Trust.
Phillip Berry and Michelle Perrault
Honored for their numerous outstanding environmental protection efforts through the Sierra Club.
Susan Watson and her late husband Bob Watson
Honored as the President of Save Mount Diablo and coordinator of the Technical Advisory Committee for Lassen Volcanic Park and Forest.
Al B. McNabney
Honored as the Vice-President and conservation Chair of Mt. Diablo Chapter of the Audubon Society.
William and Genevieve Sattler
Honored as co-founders of Save Mount Diablo and active in the County Park Council in the 1960s.
Representative George Miller
Honored as an outstanding environmental leader in Congress.
William Penn Mott, Jr.
Honored for his accomplishments as Director of the National Park Service and as long-time Director of California State Parks.
Honored as a volunteer naturalist for Mount Diablo Chapter of the Audubon Society and author of Birding Northern California.
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, honored for her efforts in revitalization of Martinez waterfront.
Louis and Mildren Stein
Honored for work in purchasing and restoring the Martinez Adobe, part of the John Muir National Historic Site.
Henry and Faire Sax
Honored for acquiring (in 1955), preserving, and restoring the Muir home and arousing public interest in establishing it as a National Historic Site.
State legislator, honored for his efforts in protecting Mount Diablo.
Al and Mary Burton
Honored as long-time leaders in establishing a county park program for Contra Costa County, including organizing the Contra Costa Park Council and addition of county parks to the East Bay Regional Parks District.
Honored for his accomplishments in adding lands for parks in the East Bay Regional Parks District.
Mary L. Bowerman
Honored as author of Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo and active in the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and the California Native Plant Society.
Dr. Edgar Wayburn
Past President of the Sierra Club who was instrumental in saving millions of acres of wilderness in Alaska and many California park lands.
Honored for his contributions through the local Sierra Club chapter.