Conservation Education, Wildlife Preservation, Coastal Protection Honored at 2018 Awards Banquet

The 55th Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards Program, hosted by Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF), recognized four individuals and three organizations for their significant achievements in natural resource conservation and education at a banquet held on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at Ashley Manor in Baton Rouge.

Chuck Perrodin, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority public information director, served as the master of ceremonies. Allyn Dukes, National Wildlife Federation’s Region 8 board member, and Tom Harris, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources secretary, presented the awards to each recipient.

Other honorees at the banquet included Louisiana’s 2018 female and male Youth Hunters of the Year, Kynlee Buras and Evan Alderson. Ryan Schaefer, LWF 1st Vice President, presented awards to each.

The 2018 conservation recipients celebrated at the banquet include:

Katherine Gividen of Baton Rouge – Governor’s Award, Conservationist of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Katherine Gividen, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

Gividen has served as a coordinator and facilitator for master naturalist workshops in addition to being a board member for LMNGBR for several years. She is a certified FrogWatch volunteer and trains others. She volunteers as a teacher for the Discover Nature series at Hilltop Arboretum and as an instructor for the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries each year. She has been a board member with the Louisiana Hiking Club for many years and volunteers with Wings of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary. Gividen completed her Green Force Training in 2018 to volunteer with BREC.

Sherrill Sagrera of Abbeville – Volunteer Conservationist of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Sherrill Sagrera, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For contributing significantly to coastal restoration planning for southwest Louisiana and being an advocate for more than 20 years, including as a member of the Vermillion Parish Coastal Protection/Restoration Advisory Committee, Rainey Conservation Alliance board of directors, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Sagrera also worked on Giant Salvinia control and sponsored wetland restoration plantings in 2018.

Audubon Nature Institute Youth Volunteer Corps – Youth Conservationists of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Shelley Shrader and Jamie Jackson with Audubon Nature Institute, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For creating six Youth Volunteer programs that offered opportunities for youth ages 11-19 to volunteer in environmental community service learning projects in Louisiana. In 2018, 268 youth volunteers contributed more than 26,000 volunteer hours of service.

CITGO Petroleum Corporation – Corporate Conservationist of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris; Missy Amidon, CITGO Public Affairs & Community Relations Coordinator; Shannon McNary, CITGO CSR Planning Measurement & Evaluation Manager; April Andrews, CITGO Media Relations Specialist, all representing CITGO; and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For its Caring for Our Coast Program, which was launched in 2014 to focus on Gulf Coast restoration and conservation and has grown into a large-scale environmental restoration program that includes educational and volunteer efforts. In 2018, CITGO partnered with Restore the Earth for the third year, planting cypress trees in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes.

Thomas Christian “Chris” Pearce of Many – Conservation Educator of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Thomas Christian “Chris” Pearce, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For his passion for wildlife education, working at the LSU AgCenter and as a 4-H agent to bring conservation-minded youth to Mini Marsh Maneuvers at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and Marsh Madness at Palmetto Island State Park. Pearce organizes and teaches outdoor training sessions for youth and gives wildlife demonstrations twice a year to 350 youth at local festivals in Sabine Parish.

Senator Dan “Blade” Morrish of Jennings – Elected Official, Conservationist of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Senator Dan “Blade” Morrish, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For his successful 2018 legislative work that built on previous legislative efforts to protect and conserve the Sabine Lake Oyster Reef, which may be the largest unharvested reef in any temperate marine climate in the world, according to The Nature Conservancy and other organizations.

Baton Rouge Zoo FrogWatch USA™ – Conservation Organization of the Year for 2018

Left to right: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris, Darcy Tatsch and Nicole Strauss accepting the award for Baton Rouge Zoo FrogWatch, and Allyn Dukes representing National Wildlife Federation.

For providing crucial insights into the conservation challenges impacting amphibians through collaboration between scientists and volunteers for scientific data collection and access to scientific information. The program partnered with BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center and enrolled 49 volunteers in 2017 and 48 volunteers in 2018.

Evan Alderson and Kynlee Buras – Male and Female Youth Hunters of the Year for 2018

Evan Alderson of Sulphur and Kynlee Buras of Livingston — 2018 Youth Hunters of the Year pictured with Ryan Schaefer — LWF 1st Vice President

The Conservation awards are presented jointly by Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation and the program is endorsed by Governor Edwards. The selections were made from among nominations submitted from the public by a panel of independent judges with expertise in a wide range of conservation fields.

Photos taken by Linda Dier.

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