Hannah Morgan
Development and Communications Coordinator
Wild South
(828) 258-2667 (office)
(434) 409-4523 (cell)


Wild South Announces Top Nominees for Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Awards

 ASHEVILLE, NC – The top nominees for the Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Awards have been announced for their leadership in conservation in the South during the past year.

On May 7, 2016, top nominees and award winners will be honored at the 8th Annual Wild South Green Gala at The Millroom in Asheville, North Carolina. The event will also showcase Wild South’s legacy of 25 years protecting wild places and wildlife of the Southeast region. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The event will also feature keynote speaker DeLene Beeland, Asheville-based author of The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf, published in 2013. Beeland will address the history and current status of the endangered red wolf, of which there are fewer than 50 left in the wild.

The top nominees in each category are:

  • Outstanding Journalist
    • Will Harlan: Editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Asheville, North Carolina
    • Morgan Simmons: Environmental Reporter for Knoxville News Sentinel
  • Outstanding Small Business
    • Holladog Farms: Organic Farm, Pamplico, South Carolina
  • Outstanding Youth
    • Bennett David: Scout/Student-Volunteer: Boy Scout Troop 91, Asheville, North Carolina
    • Olivia & Carter Ries: Founders of One More Generation, Fayetteville, Georgia
  • Outstanding Educator
    • Jackie Truitt Posey: Elementary School Teacher at Lawrence County Schools, Town Creek, Alabama
    • Kim Wheeler: Executive Director of The Red Wolf Coalition, Columbia, North Carolina
    • Dr. Drew Lanham: Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
  • Outstanding Conservationist
    • Dayna Reggero: Director of The Climate Listening Project, Asheville, North Carolina
    • Jane Branham: President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Norton, Virginia
    • Bob Gale: Ecologist & Public Lands Director of MountainTrue, Asheville, North Carolina
    • Carl Silverstein: Executive Director of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Asheville, North Carolina
    • Dr. John (Jack) Agricola: Past President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, Gadsden, Georgia


This is the only major recognition and awards ceremony for environmental conservation in the South. Additional special awards will honor outstanding individuals for their contributions to conservation in the South.

  • Outstanding Community Conservationist: To recognize an individual’s contribution to education and community engagement on conservation, spanning many categories of achievement. This is a special, one-year award designated by the Roosevelt-Ashe Selection Committee.
    • Forest Hilyer: Chairman of Lumpkin Coalition, Dahlonega, Georgia
  • Kayah Gaydish Award: For an individual who has advanced Wild South’s mission and vision and has demonstrated the same dedication Kayah had for inspiring others to protect our wild places.
    • Ben Prater: Southeast Program Director of Defenders of Wildlife, Asheville, North Carolina
  • Cultural Heritage Award: For an individual who has demonstrated commitment to preserving cultural heritage in our region.
    • Robin Swayney: Program Manager, Qualla Boundary Library, Cherokee, NC.
  • Public Service Award: For a dedicated public servant whose work has promoted a conservation vision and values that mirror Wild South’s and represents the type of conscientious stewardship of natural resources that promotes collaborative partnerships with organizations.
    • Gary Kaufman: Botanist & Ecologist of U.S. Forest Service, Asheville, North Carolina
  • Friend of Wilderness Award: For an individual who has worked to designate and increase protection for our special wild places in the Southeast.
    • Mike Leonard: Board Chair of The Conservation Fund and attorney at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“This is an opportunity to honor conservation leaders from around the South for their dedication, commitment and accomplishments in their fields. It is truly an inspiring process that Wild South is proud to lead,” said Pat Byington, Executive Director of Wild South.

Top nominees and winners were selected by the Roosevelt-Ashe Selection Committee. Members of this committee are conservation leaders in the region and include:

  • Katie Hicks, Associate Director of Clean Water for North Carolina (Asheville, NC)
  • Jake Wheeler, Creative Director of RootsRated (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Frank Peterman, Co-founder and Senior Business Manager for the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Audrey Peterman, Member of the Board of Trustees of National Parks Conservation Association (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Dusty Allison, Digital Publisher of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine (Asheville, NC)
  • Kathleen Williams, Founding Executive Director of Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation (Nashville, TN)
  • Pete Conroy, Director of Environmental Policy & Information Center of Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL)
  • Camille Bowman, Architectural Conservator (Gadsden, AL)
  • Mary Topa, Executive Director of Georgia Forest Watch (Dahlonega, GA)


“We’ve been honoring extraordinary work in the conservation movement for eight years now and I am just as awed by the passion, talent, and courage of the nominees as I was in year one,” said Tracy Davids, Vice-Chair and former Executive Director of Wild South. “Their stories inspire me to continue my own efforts to defend and protect our natural world.”

The 8th Annual Wild South Green Gala is proudly sponsored by PRADCO Outdoor Brands, a subsidiary of EBSCO Ind. Inc., Daniels Law Firm, P.C, Donovan Electric, The Millroom, Green Sage Café, Go Big Gigantic! Off the Wall Marketing, and Outdoor Sports Marketing, with silent auction items donated by Grass to Greens, Natural Investments LLC, Carolina Adventure Guides, REI, Fair Game Beverage Company, Kleen Kanteen, artist Andrea Cassetta, Asheville Massage and Natural Therapeutics, and basketmaker Mark Kolinski. Tickets are $35 per person and include dinner, one drink ticket, the evening program, live music, a silent auction and a raffle.

About Wild South:

Wild South is the voice of our public lands, forests, and waters as people across the region band together to save the wild places and wild things that we all love. Wild South’s mission is to inspire people to enjoy, value and protect the wild character and natural legacy of the South. For the past 25 years, Wild South has been a leader in protecting our public lands in the South. Working in eight states, Wild South has offices in Asheville, North Carolina, and Moulton, Alabama, with additional staff in Tennessee and Mississippi. To learn more about Wild South, visit