Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) has recognized six individuals and one organization for their significant achievements in natural resources conservation and education. The recipients were recognized as part of the 57th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet, held in Baton Rouge on Friday, June 9. Awards were presented by LWF President Isaac “Zac” Burson, III.
The 2022 conservation recipients include:
Charles Allen, PhD, of Pitkin was named Conservationist of the Year. A botanist and author, Dr. Allen has collected more than 22,000 herbarium specimens, published more than 100 botanical articles and authored 11 books. He was instrumental in establishing the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society. In 2022 alone, he made 969 contributions to the Bug-guide website. He also taught plant identification classes and Master Maturalist programs, as he has done for several years as a volunteer educator.
Lisa Lewis of Pineville was named the Professional Conservationist of the Year for her significant achievements in natural resources conservation as Forest Supervisor of Kisatchie National Forest, particularly her leadership in restoring the longleaf ecosystem in the heavily damaged area of Kisatchie National Forest.
Jane Patterson of Ponchatoula was recognized as the Volunteer Conservationist of the Year. Patterson played a crucial role in establishing a new wildlife sanctuary near the Amite River in Ascension Parish in collaboration with the Baton Rouge Audubon Society, where she has been president for a decade and also volunteers in education projects and programs in local communities.
John Dillon of Athens was named the Conservation Educator of the Year. Dillon, a teacher at Minden High School in Webster Parish, successfully ignited the interest of his students in the outdoors by establishing the Minden High School Nature Club. The club’s volunteer work with Louisiana Audubon Society’s Black Rail Program team was featured in the 50th Anniversary edition of the American Birding Association’s magazine Birding.
Jerome “Zee” Zeringue of Houma received the Elected Official Conservationist of the Year award for his instrumental role in passing legislation that supports Louisiana’s conservation efforts, including the creation of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program.
Author Kelby Ouchley of Rocky Branch was tapped as Conservation Communicator of the Year for his recently published work “Bayou D’Arbonne Swamp: A Naturalist’s Memoir of Place,” released in September 2022, which also won the 2022 Burroughs Medal. Ann Smith accepted the award from President Zac Burson on behalf of Kelby Ouchley.
Acadiana Native Plant Project was recognized as the Conservation Organization of the Year for its significant achievements in promoting the use of native plants and addressing environmental challenges in the Acadiana region. Accepting the award is Lawrence Rozas, Donna Weifen-bach, Heather Warren-Finley, and Phyllis Griffard, with Zac Burson presenting.
Banquet Emcee Rebecca Triche, Executive Director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, expressed her admiration for the awardees, stating, “It’s heartening to learn how these individuals and organizations have made outstanding contributions to conservation and education in our state. Their dedication, passion, and innovative approaches leave a legacy of preserving Louisiana’s natural resources for future generations.”
These awards, represented by unique wildlife statuettes, were jointly presented by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. LWF also recognized the 2019 award recipients at the banquet.
Winners from 2019 include: Ryan Lambert, Volunteer Conservationist of the Year; Wendy Rihner, Conservation Educator of the Year; Giant Salvinia Control Patrol, Conservation Organization of the Year; Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Archery in Louisiana Schools (ALAS) Program, Youth Conservation Organization of the Year; Eric Vanbergen, Youth Conservationist of the Year; Emma Reid, Conservation Communicator of the Year; and Edison Chouest Offshore, Corporate Conservationist of the Year.