Awards Ceremony and Dinner
On October 11, 100 people came to the Arboretum to honor this year's Leopold Restoration Award recipients. Linda Bochert, FOA board president emerita, served as the master of ceremonies.
She acknowledged the participation of the program's financial supporters, the contributions of the Leopold Judges' Team, and the assistance of the volunteers who work hard to create this important event.
The first award presented was the Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration, given to the Milwaukee County Parks/UW-Extension Natural Areas Program.
Milwaukee County, our state's most urban county with over 900,000 residents, might be considered an odd location for award-winning ecological restoration projects, but this program has shown that diversity is not found just within the human community. Milwaukee County's 10,000 acres of urban natural areas contain nearly 700 documented plant species and are part of a major bird migration corridor along Lake Michigan. This program has provided ongoing opportunities for learning, support and participation among urban dwellers who may not have much experience with nature.
Natural areas program staff have trained nearly 7,000 volunteers who have donated close to 40,000 hours toward restoration projects over the past three years. Annually, the program works with an average of 48 different partner organizations, including local high schools, colleges and universities, faith groups, AmeriCorps, government agencies, scout groups, corporations, and conservation groups. The program has created successful internships that train students to become the next generation of natural resource managers and educators. August-Marie Wagner-Richardson, Milwaukee County Program Manager for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and SCA intern Devontae Carter presented the award to Brian Russart, Natural Areas Coordinator for the Milwaukee County Parks/UW-Extension Natural Areas Program.
The second award, the John T. Curtis Award for Career Excellence in Ecological Restoration, was presented to Jeff Nania in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of ecological restoration in Wisconsin over a distinguished career involving field work, teaching, public policy, educational reform, writing, advocacy work, and development of restoration techniques and management tools.
During his 22-year involvement with the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Jeff worked with more than 20 other conservation organizations and nine governmental agencies, planning and constructing many thousands of acres of restoration projects statewide, and pioneering the ecosystem-based approach to restoration, now considered the national standard.
Jeff has also been active in the Wisconsin legislature, working on environmental policy and education, and helping to draft and pass more than 30 bills. He has worked effectively throughout Wisconsin by collaborating with a wide array of public and private organizations.
For the past 10 years, Jeff has been dedicated to developing the next generation of conservationists by integrating environmental education through hands-on restoration in public schools throughout Wisconsin. In 2002 he helped establish River Crossing Environmental Charter School in Portage and has helped launch the Wisconsin Green School Network, now involving more than 30 schools. Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz attended the event and presented the award to Jeff.
A silent auction was also part of the event, with several lucky winners going home with items donated by local businesses, artists, and individuals. We look forward to celebrating next year's Leopold Restoration Award winners at the Arboretum Visitor Center on October 10, 2013 We hope you will join us for this important event.
The Leopold Restoration Awards program is a large and complex endeavor that could not take place without the support and hard work of talented volunteers. Many thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their support:
- Peter Anderson
- Bill Arthur
- Ellie Beck
- Linda Bochert
- Pat Brown
- Matt Carlson
- Susan Carpenter
- Tim Eisele
- Susan Kilmer
- Darcy Kind
- Judy Kingsbury
- Terri Lefebvre
- Nancy Mead
- Ann Sauthoff
- Jennifer Skolaski
- Darcy Kind, chair
- Dr. Tom Blewett
- Dr. Evelyn Howell
- Ted Koehler
- Steve Swenson
Affiliated Construction Services, Inc.
American Family Insurance
Michael Best and Friedrich, LLP
Applied Ecological Services
Steven Apfelbaum & Susan Lehnhardt