LWF Honors 2023 Conservation Achievement Award Recipients

Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) has recognized seven individuals and one organization for their significant achievements in natural resources conservation and education. The recipients were recognized as part of the 58th Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet, held in Baton Rouge on Friday, April 12. These awards, represented by unique wildlife statuettes, were jointly presented by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation.

Conservationist of the Year – Alexander Kolker, PhD.

Our Conservationist of the Year is Dr. Alexander Kolker, a New Orleans native and an accomplished climate scientist. He is currently an associate professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) specializing in oceanography, geology, and climate science as well as a member of Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force.

Dr. Kolker has been a leading researcher on Louisiana’s coast since 2008 and his work has been instrumental in helping us understand the natural processes and the human causes of Louisiana’s coastal land loss.

In 2023, he developed an interactive map showing the concentrations of various greenhouse gases and other pollutants in Louisiana and Mississippi to help make this type of data more accessible to the public and help communities and decision-makers better understand local air quality. Over the past year, Dr. Kolker has also provided a scientific voice to the discussion and media surrounding carbon capture projects in the state.

As an astute researcher, Dr. Kolker recognized the importance of Neptune Pass and its ability to build land in Quarantine Bay. His research provided critical information that was used by Louisiana Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and others to push back against the Army Corps of Engineers’ initial plans to build a water control structure across the pass to choke off the flow of water. Thanks, in large measure, to Dr. Kolker the Corps is now working to preserve the land-building flow of the pass, while still maintaining navigation.

Conservation Professional of the Year – Corey Miller

Corey Miller has been a dedicated advocate for coastal communities in Louisiana, particularly in the fishing industry. While working for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, his involvement in co-chairing the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition’s Fisheries Committee and serving on the board of Coastal Communities Consulting showcased his commitment to monitoring, analyzing, and influencing issues related to fisheries and advancing coastal restoration goals.

Corey’s current role as the Community Engagement Director for Pontchartrain Conservancy, that includes overseeing the New Canal Lighthouse, education, policy, and outreach, continues his multifaceted approach to community engagement and environmental conservation.

His decade-long dedication to engaging coastal communities, along with his involvement through non-profit organizations, demonstrates a deep commitment to the resilience of our coastal communities and healthy estuaries they depend on.

Conservation Communicator of the Year – Don Shoopman

For decades, Don Shoopman has been informing Louisiana’s hunters, anglers, and citizens about anything and everything concerning Louisiana’s wildlife. From feel-good stories about first hunts in his “Overtime Outdoors” column to informative pieces on wildlife legislation, Don’s time at the New Iberian has fostered community engagement in all things conservation. Without his work, Louisiana would be missing a critical link between policymakers, wildlife, and sportsmen.

To this day, he continues to highlight youth involvement in Louisiana hunting and fishing, which was a key aspect of why the judges chose to honor Don. They recognize that without his commitment to showcasing young people and their achievements in hunting, fishing, and the outdoors we stand to lose an entire generation. In fact, he was once described by the former director of CCA as “the best Communicator Louisiana has ever known.”

Conservation Educator of the Year – Amanda Clark and Pam Pearce

The Conservation Educator of the Year award goes to a pair of women who have brought the love of fishing to Natchitoches Parish. As advisors for the Natchitoches Parish 4-H club and founders of the Fishing “Fin”atics Club, they have given hundreds of children the chance to fish, some for the first time. Through bank fishing tournaments and monthly trips, these leaders have fostered a new generation of anglers.

However, these two have done much more than just take kids fishing. They strive to instill in each participant a sense of duty to help steward and protect Louisiana’s natural resources.   Amanda Clark and Pam Pearce teach their students the importance of leaving our land and waterways better than they found them instituting service projects like Cane River Trash Bash, an event dedicated to cleaning the banks on Cane River.

This dynamic duo has given their students an unparalleled introduction to the worlds of both fishing and conservation.

Elected Official Conservationist of the Year – Rep. Joseph Orgeron, PhD.

Dr. Joseph Orgeron, serving as the current Louisiana State Representative for District 54, has blazed a trail for conservation legislation. Working with coastal communities, stakeholders, and organizations, he has proposed legislation to protect and restore Louisiana’s wildlife and habitats.

From calling for a one-mile buffer for menhaden fishing to supporting legislation that would put revenue created from Offshore Wind into the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, his political career has made conservation a priority. When not representing his district at the state level, Joe can be found working his day job as Executive Director of Restore or Retreat, an organization focused on preservation of the coast, community, and culture within the Barataria and Terrebonne basins.

Both in the political sphere and out, Joe is undeterrable in his efforts to protect our natural resources and advance coastal and wildlife conservation at the local, state, and national levels.

Volunteer Conservationist of the Year- Jim Kolinski

Passionate and hardworking volunteers are essential elements of conservation organizations and efforts. Described as “the face of the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge”, this star volunteer is a core member of the Refuge’s team. Clocking over 2,000 hours of service in 2023 alone – which is equivalent to a full-time position – Jim Kolinski has undoubtedly changed the refuge for the better.

Jim is the resident animal caretaker and handler, educator, carpenter, researcher, janitor, and smiling face. Along with updating the signage at the Refuge, and conducting independent animal research, he has educated countless guests on Black Bayou’s wildlife through interactive field trips and tours always with an eye for new and innovative ways to teach.

His work has truly made a difference in the lives of the animals, staff, and visitors of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Conservation Organization of the Year- AJ and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation

Property owned in Sabine Parish by AJ and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation is a special place with a long legacy of reforestation even when it was not popular. After running the famous Hodges Gardens for decades, the AJ and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation began rekindling some of the conservation-centered thinking of its founders. Through the establishment of the Louisiana Ecological Forestry Center or LEAF Center, and countless partnerships with conservation organizations, they have transformed 2,400 acres of land into a research and learning center.

The LEAF Center strives to promote conservation of a diverse ecosystem dominated by longleaf pine through restoration, enhancement, and education. The LEAF Center celebrated 40 years as a certified Tree Farm in 2023, signifying commitment to sustainable practices in forestry and wildlife.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Martin D. “Marty” Floyd

Martin D. “Marty” Floyd has been, and continues to be, a tireless advocate for Louisiana’s wildlife and natural resources. He has dedicated his entire adult life, more than 50 years of service, to ensuring Louisiana’s wildlife and wild lands have a voice.

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, the National Wildlife Federation, and of course to LWF. Marty is that unique individual who embodies both a deep academic understanding of the issues facing Louisiana’s wildlife and the dedication to the practical implementation of scientific principles to correct those issues.

Marty has published dozens of works on the value of conservation here in Louisiana and beyond. Most recently, he was also instrumental in working with the Tunica-Biloxi tribe to help preserve and teach their native language to a new generation by developing a coloring book focused on native Louisiana animals. He is currently in the process of creating a similar coloring book in the Biloxi language.

Over the entirety of his adult life, Marty Floyd has given everything to the conservation of Louisiana’s wildlife and natural resources. And even after more than 50 years, he continues to do so.

We would also like to thank our generous sponsors for their help in making the 58th Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet special. They are:

Lamar; Land Trust for Louisiana; Southern Wild, LLC; Allyn and Cliff Dukes; Restore the Mississippi River Delta; Cenac Marine Services; Delacroix Corporation; Louisiana Lottery Corporation; Michel H. Claudet, LLC; Pontchartrain Conservancy; Rapides Wildlife Association; Robert and Norma Steward; and Toledo Bend Lake Association.

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