Environmental Law Institute to Recognize “Wetland Heroes” at 31st Annual National Wetlands Awards Via Month-Long Virtual Celebration

April 2020

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce the winners of the 31th Annual National Wetlands Awards: Mark Beardsley; John W. Day Jr.; Trinity Favazza; Ted LaGrange; Sam Lovall; and Robert Wade. The 2020 Wetlands Awardees, all of whom have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of our nation’s wetlands, will be honored virtually via a month-long digital campaign. The campaign will run throughout the month of May, which is also national wetlands month.

“The recipients of the National Wetlands Awards are on the forefront of protecting wetland resources in the face of development and climate pressures,” said ELI President Scott Fulton. “While the pandemic prevents us this year from honoring the 2020 class of awardees at an in-person ceremony, we look forward to sharing their achievements with the broader public throughout the month of May via blogs, videos, and other virtual content in hopes of further inspiring wetlands protection across the country and worldwide.”

The awardees will be recognized for their individual achievements in six categories: Scientific Research; Promoting Awareness; Local Stewardship; Wetlands Program Development; Wetlands Business Leadership; and Youth Leadership (a new category for 2020).

Mark Beardsley, the principal of EcoMetrics and founder of Riparian Reconnect in Buena Vista, Colorado, is the winner of the Business Leadership award. He has 24 years of experience as an ecologist and geomorphologist, with a specialty in small streams, beaver restoration, monitoring and evaluation, and environmental ethics. Mark is also heavily involved in Colorado’s stream management planning process and is co-author of holistic stream and wetland health assessment methods, including the Functional Assessment of Colorado Streams and the Colorado Stream Health Assessment Framework. He has also worked as a college biology and chemistry teacher, climbing guide, ski patroller, and avalanche forecaster. Mark draws from his experience in these diverse fields and scientific disciplines to bring fresh perspectives and creative approaches that draw on the power of natural processes and ecological health in planning Colorado’s water and environmental future. Mark has bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology, and a master’s in ecology, all from Colorado State University, and his favorite subject is environmental philosophy.

The Scientific Research award goes to John W. Day Jr., distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, College of the Coast & Environment at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1971. In addition to educating the next generation of environmental stewards, including over 70 masters- and doctorate-level students, John has conducted extensive research on the ecology and management of coastal and wetland ecosystems, with emphasis on the Mississippi Delta. An extensive writer, with more than 400 publications to his name, John as written and edited 14 books, has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, and has been cited more than 23,800 times. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for study in France and the Estuarine Research Federation Cronin Award for excellence in teaching in coastal sciences. John received his Ph.D. in marine sciences and environmental sciences from the University of North Carolina in 1971 working with the noted ecologist Dr. H.T. Odum.

This year’s Youth Leadership award goes to Trinity Favazza. Trinity, age 13, has been an amphibian and wetland conservationist since 2016 when she became the Mayor of Amphibiville for the Detroit Zoo. Soon after, Trinity began her “Action for Amphibians” project, which takes a social, political, and hands-on approach toward amphibian and wetland conservation. Through her program, Trinity seeks to: (1) raise social awareness via social media and her “Amphibian Conservation Rocks” painted rocks campaign; (2) conduct field research, clean up local wetlands, educate and inspire her classmates, and collect valuable field data as a citizen scientist for FrogWatch USA; and (3) raise political awareness for amphibian and wetland conservation statewide and nationally. This year, Trinity was able to expand her “Amphibian Conservation Rocks” campaign using funds from the Warner Brothers Scooby-Doo Doo Good Grant. Visit her amphibian conservation Instagram hub and conservation website at http://www.actionforamphibians.com.

Ted LaGrange, the Wetland Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 27 years, is the winner of the Wetlands Program Development award. As Wetland Program Manager, Ted works on a wide variety of wetland issues throughout Nebraska, including partnerships, private land restoration programs, public lands management, research, regulations, and outreach. Prior to moving to Nebraska, he worked for eight years as a Waterfowl Research Technician for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Ted received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in wildlife biology from Iowa State University. His professional interests are in prairie wetlands and waterfowl/water bird ecology.

The Local Stewardship award goes to Sam Lovall, who has over 35 years of professional landscape architectural experience in design, construction, and grant writing for park, riverfront, trail system, urban, and environmental planning projects. Sam also teaches Planning and Landscape Architecture at Michigan State University. He has been the Project Manager for numerous riparian planning projects in southeast Michigan, and led the development of master plans for the Rouge River Gateway, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Gateway Site, and an Opportunity Assessment for the Lower Detroit River. Most recently, Sam was Project Manager for the Friends of the Detroit River, successfully completing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects funded through NOAA at several locations on the Detroit River. His current work involves completing construction to restore Lake Okonoka on Belle Isle and planning for habitat restoration on Sugar Island and at Hennepin Marsh.

Robert Wade, an educator who has worked in the Upper Feather River region of California’s northern Sierra Nevada for the past 25 years, is the recipient of this year’s Promoting Awareness award. As the Outdoor Education and Science Coordinator for the Plumas County Office of Education since 1995, Rob has designed, developed, and implemented successful and sustainable K-12 programs in the region built upon a strategic partnership with over 32 agencies and organizations. These partnerships include the 2016 launch of a Next Generation Science Standards strategy, which took outdoor education and stewardship mainstream through the Outdoor Core Mountain Kid K-12 collaborative to help teachers integrate weekly outdoor learning adventures for all students. In addition to his regional work in California, Rob is a national facilitator and consultant supporting K-12 program development in the land trust community. Rob is the 2017 recipient of the Excellence in Environmental Education Award, presented by the California Environmental Education Foundation. Rob has a B.S. from the University of California-Berkeley in Conservation & Resource Studies and an M.A. from the School of Education at the University of San Francisco.

Since 1989, the National Wetlands Awards Program has honored over 200 champions of wetlands conservation. The program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional effort, innovation, and excellence in wetlands conservation at the regional, state, or local level. Past award recipients share a dedication to protecting the nation’s remaining wetlands; educating citizens, students, and agencies about the value of wetlands; and working with a diverse array of organizations and interests to advance wetlands protection.

The National Wetlands Awards Program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, NOAA Fisheries, and Federal Highway Administration. A committee of wetland experts representing federal and state agencies, academia, conservation groups, and private-sector organizations selects the Award winners.

For more information, please visit the National Wetlands Awards website at www.elinwa.org.

Be a part of the digital campaign and use #WetlandsAwards2020 on your favorite social media platform. To get started, here are some sample posts:

May is #WetlandsMonth - Join @ELIORG throughout May to celebrate these #wetland heroes! http://elinwa.org/ #WetlandsAwards2020 @EPAWater @USFWS @USDA_NRCS @forestservice @NOAAFisheries @USDOTFHWA

These #wetland heroes have restored, researched, and protected thousands of acres of wetlands nationwide http://elinwa.org/ #WetlandsMonth #WetlandsAwards2020 @EPAWater @USFWS @USDA_NRCS @forestservice @NOAAFisheries @USDOTFHWA

Learn about the winners of this year’s National Wetlands Awards at http://elinwa.org/ #WetlandsAwards2020 @EPAWater @USFWS @USDA_NRCS @forestservice @NOAAFisheries @USDOTFHWA

Please feel free to grab them, modify as you need, and share. Every share counts!

Follow us at:

Twitter: @ELIORG and @ELI_Wetlands
Instagram: environmentallawinstitute
Facebook: EnvironmentalLawInstitute
Linked In: Environmental-Law-Institute
YouTube: EnvironmentLaw