Coastal Researcher Alex Kolker Named 2023 Conservationist of the Year

Alex Kolker, PhD, of New Orleans, and associate professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), specializing in oceanography, geology, and climate science, has been named 2023 Conservationist of the Year by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Dr. Kolker recently led the charge for collecting data to better understand the continuing evolution of Neptune Pass in the lower Mississippi River and related land-building. He also developed a new tool showing the sources of major greenhouse emissions and other pollutants in the state.

The Conservationist of the Year Award is presented annually to the person, business or organization deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution toward the protection, wise use, and enjoyment of Louisiana’s natural resources from among nominees submitted by the public. Conservationist of the Year is the most prestigious conservation award in Louisiana.

“Dr. Kolker’s contribution to the research needed to better understand how we can use the Mississippi River to build land and the potential local impacts from climate change continues to be crucial in planning efforts,” said LWF Executive Director Rebecca Triche. “He is also a powerful and effective science communicator using social media to engage people.”

Along with recognizing the 2023 Conservationist of the Year, Louisiana Wildlife Federation will also present seven other Conservation Achievement Awards at its 58th Awards Banquet to be held on April 12 in Baton Rouge.

The program added a category for Lifetime Achievement Award this year and the inaugural award will be presented to Martin D. “Marty” Floyd of Cheneyville for his decades of professional and volunteer service toward conserving Louisiana’s wildlife and native habitat. Floyd, a wildlife biologist, has contributed greatly to habitat and wildlife conservation work for more than 50 years. His long career includes work for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Ducks Unlimited, and he has given decades of volunteer leadership to numerous organizations, including Louisiana Ornithological Society, Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists, Louisiana Master Naturalists Association, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, and National Wildlife Federation.

The selection for the eight Conservation Achievement Awards was made by a panel of independent judges with expertise in a wide range of conservation fields. The other six 2023 Conservation Achievement Awards recipients include:

Professional Conservationist of the Year – Corey Miller, New Orleans

  • Corey is Community Engagement Director for the Pontchartrain Conservancy and previously worked with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana where he has implemented multiple community outreach, education, and inclusivity initiatives related to coastal restoration and engagement of new conservation leaders.

Volunteer Conservationist of the Year – Jim Kolinski, Monroe

  • Jim is a volunteer leader at the Black Bayou Lake Conservation Learning Center in Monroe where he serves as an animal caretaker, educator, and staff member and has been credited with keeping the Center open to the public while contributing over 2,000 hours in 2023.

Conservation Educator of the Year – Amanda Clark and Pam Pearce, Natchitoches

  • Amanda and Pam lead the Natchitoches Parish 4-H Club and founded the Fishing “Fin-atics” Club to engage more than 1,000 youth of Natchitoches Parish in fishing and aquatic education through bank fishing events, field trips, and educational classes or projects.

Elected Official Conservationist of the Year – Joseph Orgeron, PhD, Thibodaux

  • Orgeron is state representative for District 54 and has been an advocate for innovative ways to fund future coastal restoration projects and actively engaged on fisheries management issues for Menhaden, Red Drum, and Spotted Seatrout.

Conservation Communicator of the Year – Don Shoopman, New Iberia

  • Don writes an outdoors column for the Daily Iberian that frequently features youth sports and has kept hunters, anglers, and concerned citizens informed about issues concerning Louisiana’s great outdoors, continuing his decades-long career as an outdoor writer.

Conservation Organization of the Year – AJ & Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation, Florien

  • The Foundation provides education, conservation, and research in Sabine Parish through management of Hodges Gardens and establishing the Louisiana Ecological Forestry Center (the LEAF Center) to promote conservation of a diverse ecosystem dominated by longleaf pine.

LWF would like to thank the 58th Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet sponsors including Lamar Advertising; Land Trust for Louisiana/Southern Heritage Wild, LLC; Cenac Marine Services; Delacroix Corporation; Louisiana Lottery Corporation; Rapides Wildlife Association; Toledo Bend Lake Association, and Robert and Norma Stewart.

The public is invited to the 58th Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet to be held on Friday, April 12, 2024, at Boudreaux’s in Baton Rouge. The banquet will begin at 6:00 pm with a cocktail reception followed by dinner and the awards presentation at 7:00 pm. The Master of Ceremonies will be Rob Shadoin, former Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

For more details and to purchase tickets click HERE.

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