We are proud to showcase the nominees for this year’s Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Awards:
DeLene Beeland (Freelance Science and Nature Writer, NC)
DeLene Beeland has made major contributions in conservation science and education and wildlife advocacy. In particular, DeLene has made outstanding contributions to the public’s awareness of the red wolf, an endangered species that nearly went extinct before regaining a foothold in the wild in North Carolina. She is the author of The Secret Lives of Red Wolves, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2013. DeLene continued to report on the challenges facing this extremely endangered population with articles on the red wolf in publications that include Slate, Scientific American, Wildlife in North Carolina, On Earth, and International Wolf Magazine.
Karen Chavez (Asheville Citizen-Times, NC)
As outdoor editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, Karen Chavez makes a significant contribution to Conservation Science and Education in Western North Carolina. Karen provides robust coverage of outdoor recreation and environmental issues, engaging the community to enjoy and protect our natural environment. In the past few months alone, Karen has covered issues including biodiversity in the Smoky Mountains, endangered red wolves, a French Broad river cleanup, and numerous outdoor recreational activities. Her regular “Adventure of the Week” feature encourages people to explore all the amazing opportunities that the Southern Appalachians have to offer. Karen’s popular “Girls Gone Outdoors” blog celebrates the adventures of girls and women in this region’s great outdoors. Her work celebrates the connections between people and nature and helps to strengthen them. Karen is the author of the bestselling guidebook Best Hikes with Dogs in North Carolina.
Jack Igleman (Carolina Public Press, NC)
Jack Igelman is Carolina Public Press‘s lead environmental contributing reporter. In 2014, Jack wrote in-depth about the controversy over charging backcountry access fees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in which he reported not only about the debate, but also the cultural and historic significance of changing how the public accesses one of the nation’s most-visited national parks. He has also launched an investigative series reporting on the unprecedented effort to reshape the management plans of the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, which encompass 1 million acres in 18 Western North Carolina counties. His articles have appeared in dozens of national, regional and local publications and he’s the co-author of Trekking the Southern Appalachians.
212 Market Restaurant (Chattanooga, TN)
One of the first upscale sustainable restaurants of its kind in the South, 212 Market has always been ahead of its time. The sisters, Sally and Susan Moses, are known as the matriarch’s of the sustainability movement in the Chattanooga region and for 25 years have been uniting voices to protect wild places and things in the area. They lead by example with programs including recycling or composting of all non-meat food wastes; recycling of glass, paper, plastic, and metals; utilizing locally grown and seasonal foods, using recycled & biodegradable products including “plastic” bags, cold cups, and to-go ware made from corn or other natural products; redirecting rain water & condenser water from the roof to the landscape & garden; saving electricity by having solar panels on our roof, using Energy Star appliances, compact fluorescent light bulbs inside and LED lights outside, and Excel hand dryers in the restrooms that use 80% less energy than other blowers and costs 90% less than paper towels in a year’s span; and featuring sustainable food options including organic vegetables, seafood, and meats. They even provide electric car chargers in the parking lot!
Second Gear (Asheville, NC)
Second Gear focuses on high-quality consigned gear to allow opportunity for ALL people to be properly outfitted so they can have the best experiences possible in the outdoors. They are a resource, connecting people with local groups, outdoor experts and guides, events and more – truly acting as a community leader to link people to the outdoors and making it easier for everyone to participate in outdoor adventure recreation. Second Gear inspires people to get outside, to explore our world in the mountains and do this on a budget by purchasing dealer gear and nearly-new gear that keeps that discourages waste. Recognized by area schools and organizations like Wild South, Brother Wolf, SAHC and more for contributions to Sustainability and environmental causes, they aim to be THE local source and resource that proudly supports local organizations. Second Gear helps to outfit people for the best experiences possible in the outdoors – and those experiences lead to an understanding of the value and uniqueness of these places and a sense of pride in protecting these places. They believe EVERYONE should have access to outdoor recreation, exploration and solitude.
Tellico KATS (Tellico, TN)
Kellye and Tomye, the owners of a small riverside deli in Tellico Plains, TN moved to the area because they fell in love with the natural beauty of the Cherokee National Forest. Their lifelong dream of opening a restaurant together came to fruition when they found the perfect spot along the Tellico River and opened KATS (K for Kellye-and-T for Tomye) Deli on the edge of the Cherokee National Forest and on the beautiful Cherohala Skyway. As proud supporters of the Tennessee Wilderness Act and SAWS-Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Kellye and Tomye are proud to display conservation and contact materials, educate their customers about the value of the forest, clean water and wilderness protections. They have contacted elected officials in support of Tennessee Wilderness, and regularly donate and discount meals for conservation workers and advocates.
Paul Carlson (The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, NC)
During his tenure with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, Paul Carlson has made a significant impact on the environment and leaves a lasting legacy. Paul was one of the driving forces behind the acquisition of the Needmore Tract (now the Needmore Gamelands,) a 4,400-acre tract along 27 miles of the Little Tennessee River. Needmore serves as a shining example of how to successfully create, nurture and sustain a unified public voice. In addition some of his most enduring and rewarding accomplishments have come from his leadership in acquiring “working farm” and “working forest” easements – like Spring Ridge Dairy Farm – for WNC families with a love for their land and the desire to see it preserved and utilized in a way that showcases their sense of community and stewardship.
Brent Martin (The Wilderness Society, NC)
You can often find Brent Martin in the woods leading or participating in educational outings and/or programs such as the Aquatic Biomonitoring Program. He is an eloquent speaker and prolific environmental writer and a tireless worker for all things endangered. Seeing the need to change the historic dynamic of contention between user groups within the forest management plan revision process, Brent was driven to create the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership, a collaborative group made up of dozens of organizations representing a broad spectrum of interest areas across the forest and the region, who are working within the US Forest Service plan revision process to create a consensus-based citizens set of recommendations for the new forest plan. These groups collectively represent thousands of forest users who are now not only more engaged in forest issues, but in a more effective way that will yield a better forest plan and a regional public more aligned and empowered to support the US Forest Service work through pressing issues and challenges.
Jeannie Nelson (The Land Trust for Tennessee, TN)
With almost three decades of experience in environment work and conservation, Jeanie Nelson’s passion brings communities together to protect Tennessee’s most cherished natural and historic places for future generations. An award-winning champion of the environment, Jeanie knows how to get the job done and make friends along the way. For the past twenty-five years, Jeanie has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Southern Environmental Law Center. She also currently serves on the Board of The Land Trust Alliance, a group of 1700 land trusts across the nation, and formerly served on Mayor Karl Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability.
Eric Bradford (Asheville Greenworks, NC)
Eric is the quintessential conservation educator. He can engage any audience, from kindergarten students to adult volunteers, in hands-on learning about the environment through directed lessons to projects like stream cleanups or orchard plantings. Eric recruits, manages and mobilizes thousands of volunteers in service to the environment every year and is a champion for zero waste in Asheville, Buncombe County and throughout Western North Carolina. Eric gives voice to the issue of waste production in our society and how citizens can make a real difference through choices we make from purchasing products with less packaging (pre-cycling) to managing waste by recycling and composting. Eric’s innovative approaches to teaching about this important environmental issue include the Bag Monster, Ditch the Dumpster Lunchroom Composting education, and community outreach through Hard to Recycle events and numerous river and roadside cleanups. While Eric would never take credit for these achievements, instead pointing to the thousands of individuals who volunteer their time, it is through his amazing coordination and teaching skills that it all comes together.
James Costa (Western Carolina University/Highlands Biological Station, NC)
Dr. Costa is the H. F. and Katherine P. Robinson Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University as well as director of the Highlands Biological Station, where he creates learning opportunities through summer courses and workshops, internship programs, and summer camps. During Dr. Costa’s eight years at HBS he has expanded the offering of summer course opportunities, both in number and in diversity of scope. Dr. Costa has worked diligently to make HBS a place where researchers want to come, to conduct field research, and to share ideas with one another. HBS currently has 17 colleges and universities as member institutions and hosts 8-12 students each fall through the UNC Institute for the Environment (IE). In 2012, Discover Life in America named Dr. Costa the Outstanding Biodiversity Educator of the Year.
Nancy Muse (Visual Arts, Lauderdale Co Schools, AL)
Nancy Muse is an activist and leading voice for conservation and wildlife advocacy and founding member of Shoals Environmental Alliance and president of Shoals Earth Month, a Florence, AL-based non-profit organization and festival whose mission is to provide and support educational opportunities and to celebrate the beauty, biodiversity, and abundance of life on Earth. Nancy is also currently a leader in the fight against tar sands mining in Alabama. She has used her skills as an organizer, connections in the community and with local musicians to plan public rallies and awareness events. As an arts teacher, Nancy fosters intellectual curiosity by using an interdisciplinary approach. In the community, she has helped to organize public forums to help educate public on energy, sustainable practices and more.
William David (Asheville, NC)
William assisted the NC Arboretum in box turtle monitoring in the summer of 2014, and decided to perform his own research to determine the habitat preference of the two Eastern box turtles tracked on Arboretum property. His presentation won first prize in the Western Region Science & Engineering Fair at WCU and will be headed to the statewide competition in Raleigh in March. What’s cool is that William is getting really valuable information – this is one of the only sites if not the only in the western part of the state studying box turtles, and is the only public garden involved in this box turtle study. He was able to deduce they are only using shrubland habitat – not ever in cultivated gardens or forest areas! You always wonder how much is this a kid or parents, but it’s very obvious it is his work and he is writing this paper and performing basic GIP mapping and discussion. Turtles are perfect to excite young students areas and have a way of connecting kids with nature that’s not seen in other species. Box turtles are really approachable, acting as an ambassador from the wild natural world and William is making big waves with his work already!
Joseph Jenkins (Auburn University, AL)
Joseph “Joe” Jenkins’ work for the conservation of Alabama’s rare and imperiled herpetofauana has made him an environmental hero. As a student at Auburn University, he is working on a double major in both engineering and zoology and conducting research to further our scientific understanding of some of the rarest animals in the southeastern United States. Joe is doing field work, sponsored by Auburn and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, focusing on the Flattened Musk Turtle endemic to the Black Warrior River Basin in Alabama which is heavily impacted by urban development, mining, and deforestation as well as the Black Warrior River Waterdog, a secretive salamander also endemic to the Warrior River Watershed. These important projects aim to gathering information on this animal’s habits and habitats to guide future conservation actions to protect the species.
Carly Stines (Girl Scout Troup 374, Wake Co, NC)
Outdoor enthusiast Carly Stines began to notice that many of her classmates and hiking partners had an active dislike for snakes and little knowledge or respect for their beneficial role within the ecosystem. To combat the issue, Carly developed programs and materials for Wake County Parks to advocate for snakes and build knowledge among the general population. She created education kits focusing on species appreciation, knowledge, identification, and role in the ecosystem for use by the Wake County Park education personnel. These kits will be used for students attending field trips at the park, outreach programs, and festivals so they will engage thousands of people over time in the hopes of gaining respect for and protection of these wonderful creatures.
Bishop Herron Johnson
Bishop Herron Johnson has been called a “modern day Noah” for his work to save the elusive and endangered Watercress Darter. The fish’s discovery in Western Alabama in a small tributary on the land owned by Faith Apostolic Church has resulted in an innovative partnership between scientists and the church’s congregation, led by Bishop Herron to save the darter. In 2005, Bishop Johnson and the church partnered with the Freshwater Land Trust to ensure the permanent protection of the Watercress Darter and its habitat.
Dr. Liane Russell
For nearly 50 years, Dr. Liane Russell has been a beloved wilderness champion. Liane co-founded Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning in 1966, which has been instrumental in the designating legislation for the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Obed Wild and Scenic River, as well as State Scenic Rivers Act and State Trails Act. Lee has brought her strategic skills and tenacity to other environmental efforts across the state including the designation of wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest. Her knowledge of the environmental efforts across the decades and across the state is encyclopedic and personal. Professionally, Lee is a mammalian geneticist retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She discovered the significance of the Y-chromosome and won the Fermi award for her research. Liane Russell has touched so many lives and saved so many places in East Tennessee, and she is a true global treasure.