Conservation Leaders Honored with 2012 Refuge System Awards

Strong leaders and employees, dedicated volunteers, and robust Refuge Friends organizations make the Refuge System the best wildlife conservation system in the world – and inspire the next generation of conservationists. | FWS

This month, the National Wildlife Refuge Association announced the recipients of the 2012 Refuge System Awards. An impressive array of nominations for Refuge Manager of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Refuge Friends Group of the Year are submitted each year for the prestigious awards program, sponsored by NWRA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). NWRA extends congratulations to the four honorees and to all who were nominated in recognition of their exceptional commitment to wildlife conservation and the National Wildlife Refuge System!

This year’s recipients of Refuge System Awards are as follows:

Charles A. Pelizza has been selected as the recipient of the Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year. Manager of the Pelican Island NWR Complex, Charlie’s leadership, professionalism and advocacy of conservation contributed significantly to the creation of the Everglades Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area earlier this year.

Kathleen 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 the rare saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow have earned her global recognition.

David Govatski will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award. David has committed himself to a lifetime of public service and has dedicated over 11,000 volunteer-hours at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. A certified silviculturalist, his varied interests encompass migratory birds, endangered plants, and invasive species.

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, a popular event now in its 15th year running.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Awards, sponsored by NWRA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, honor outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, employees, volunteers and Friends groups. Recognizing the excellence of these individuals and groups not only highlights the dedication and devotion of those who support the Refuge System, but also raises awareness about the diversity of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the challenges it faces and innovative efforts across the country to meet those challenges.