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2011 PIF Award Winners

Each year, Partners in Flight presents awards to those individuals, groups or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to the field of landbird conservation.  Awardees are recognized in one of four categories: Leadership, Investigations, Land Stewardship, and Public Awareness. This year Partners in Flight also presented a special award for Landbird Habitat Conservation.

The Department of Defense Partners in Flight Program and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory have both sponsored the Partners in Flight Awards Program this year. The bird carvings used for the awards are created by Bob Van Hoff.  The Awards Committee, chaired by Rich Fischer, made the following selections.

One Special Award was presented for Landbird Habitat Conservation

The Joint Ventures

[being received by Arthur Feinstein (Association of JV Management Boards)]

This Special Award is presented to the Joint Ventures on the occasion of their 25th Anniversary. Joint Ventures were initiated a few years before Partners in Flight was initiated. As Partners in Flight progressed down the road of species assessments, we realized that we did a great job at assessing the vulnerability of landbirds and developing habitat and population objectives. What we lacked, however, was implementation know-how. But then Gary Myers told us, “Birds are just like ducks!” It didn’t take long for us to realize that the Joint Ventures had the expertise, partners, and infrastructure in place to address not only waterfowl conservation, but also landbirds. Today, as Joint Ventures embrace conservation of all birds, Partners in Flight is honored to have such a positive relationship with the dedicated and passionate people of the Joint Ventures. The lines distinguishing waterfowl, landbirds, waterbirds, shorebirds, upland game birds and others are slowly blurring into a model of all bird conservation. In fact, many leaders in the early days of Partners in Flight are now working as Coordinators or Science Directors of Joint Ventures. Partners in Flight is in the process of developing a Strategic Action Plan following our 20th anniversary. One thing is clear from the goals and objectives in the plan – Partners in Flight has affirmed the role of Joint Ventures in delivering conservation for all birds through their excellence in science, implementation, international partnerships, monitoring, and integrating habitat conservation across all bird initiatives. Congratulations on setting the bar high and raising it every year. We look forward to our continued relationships and conservation successes over the next 25 years.

Ashley Dayer

Two Awards were presented for Leadership

Ken Rosenberg, Ph.D. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Ken is the Director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  For more than two decades, he has used science to inform conservation planning and policy in the national forum. He has expertly engaged in a wide range of endeavors, including original research, teaching and training, leadership, writing and editing, advocating, fostering partnerships, and working with the media. Perhaps Ken’s strongest asset is science communication. He conveys complex ideas of ecology, behavior, and evolution to transcend the knowledge disparity inherent among diverse audiences. In doing so, he compels others, from birders to policy makers, to take conservation action. As an example, a Google search of the phrase “Ken Rosenberg Gulf Oil Spill” returns dozens of news articles, and radio and TV spots, in which Ken eloquently describes the importance of the Gulf and its tidal wetlands, the risks of energy development in a keystone ecosystem, and the need to stay focused on the science when assessing the damage. In the midst of a disaster with high emotions, he brought the world the voice and face of science-based conservation.  

 

Over the years, Ken has been involved in a number of endeavors that make him worthy of this award, including serving as Co-chair of the PIF International Science Committee; providing leadership in numerous working groups, such as the Cerulean and Golden-winged warbler Working Groups; and helping to envision and author seminal publications in avian conservation, such as the Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan. Ken’s recent efforts on the State of the Birds reports highlight his vision and positive impact on avian conservation biology. Although State of the Birds is a team effort, Ken has emerged as a visionary leader in helping to conceptualizing each report, guiding the science, drafting text and figures, and interpreting and delivering the results. The 2011 report is a benchmark publication that is likely to shape bird conservation and research on the nation’s 850 million acres of public land for decades to come. This single report, heavily shaped by Ken’s broad vision of conservation, will likely do more to influence conservation science and policy than many of us could hope to achieve in an entire career.

Ken is also a passionate birder and always willing to help others to improve their skills or just have a more enjoyable birding experience. He frequently volunteers to lead field trips at the Cornell Lab’s Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary.

Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo

Lisa G. Sorenson, Ph.D. (Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds)

Lisa is Research Assistant Professor of Biology and Coordinator of the West Indian Whistling-Duck (WIWD) Working Group of the Society of Caribbean Ornithology.  Currently she is President of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB).  Under Lisa’s leadership, the society has grown tremendously and is regarded with great respect as a leader in bird conservation in the region.  She is an ornithologist and conservation ecologist with many years experience in research, outreach, education, training and conservation. Her work has focused primarily in the Caribbean. Among her many accomplishments:

  • Lisa led the development of the West Indian Whistling-Duck (WIWD) and Wetlands Conservation Project, SCSCB’s flagship program that provides local teachers and educators with training and educational materials and works to raise public awareness and appreciation of the importance and value of local wetlands. Lisa has raised funds, developed multi-lingual outreach materials, facilitated Wetlands Education Training Workshops, and formed a network of engaged partners (WIWD WG). Since 2002, the project has trained more than 3,600 teachers and natural resource agency staff in 142 “train-the-trainer” workshops in 19 countries.
  • Lisa has been working with Monitoring Working Group Co-Chair, Ann Haynes-Sutton, to help develop SCSCB’s new regional bird monitoring programs, Caribbean Birdwatch and the Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC). This has included raising grant funds, preparing bird monitoring manuals and other training materials, organizing and facilitating five regional monitoring training workshops, and coordinating a Small Grants program. Lisa was co-author of Caribbean Waterbird Census Manual: Promoting Conservation of Waterbirds and Wetlands Through Monitoring.
  • She has also worked to strengthen and grow SCSCB’s other programs and activities. She led the development of SCSCB’s new Strategic Plan (2008-2012), helped develop SCSCB’s website (www.scscb.org), coordinated the development of eBird Caribbean, led the organization of SCSCB’s last 4 outstanding regional conferences, and served as co-chair of the scientific program. She manages SCSCB’s website, coordinates quarterly articles about Caribbean birds for ZiNG magazine, and maintains communication with SCSCB members and other interested persons via SCSCB’s listserve BirdsCaribbean and three Facebook pages. She has increased membership in this listserve from 300 to over 730 members.

Lisa has made numerous significant contributions to the conservation of migratory and resident birds and their habitats. Her work has greatly increased the capacity of Caribbean ornithologists, resource managers, conservation organizations, institutions, and local citizens to conserve the birds of the Caribbean and their habitats. She is well-known throughout the region as a passionate, dedicated and hard-working conservationist, always willing to lend a hand, provide positive feedback and encouragement to conservationists, and inspire new people to get involved in local and regional conservation efforts.

Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo

One Award was presented for Investigations

Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education

In 2006, the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) established an avian monitoring program onsite at BFREE in Belize. Now in its 6th year of a planned 10 year monitoring program, it is the first long-term bird study conducted in Belize. The program goals are to create and enhance links between protected areas and surrounding communities, provide base-line data on Neotropical migrant and resident Birds, and determine the status of wild Harpy Eagles in the Bladen Nature Reserve and the greater Maya Mountains Massif.  Two monitoring foci drive the program. The first is Neotropical and resident bird monitoring to include 1) repeated point counts, and 2) constant-effort mist-net monitoring and banding of resident and migrant species. The second focus is Harpy Eagle monitoring, which grew from a sighting of a juvenile Harpy in the Bladen Nature Reserve in 2005. Due to hunting, habitat destruction and fragmentation, the Harpy Eagle is a Globally Near Threatened species and all but extirpated in Central America, so this sighting spurred much support and interest. In November of 2011, BFREE technicians identified the first known active Harpy nest ever found in Belize. The Harpy Eagle monitoring program utilizes 4 primary survey sites, but also includes extensive ground surveys and lookout sites to identify potential nest sites.  Other accomplishments include:

  • Alternative Livelihood Training Program - Spearheaded by Dr. James Rotenberg (UNCW) and Mr. Jacob Marlin (BFREE), the goal of this program is to provide job training and opportunities to Belizeans. This training includes bird identification, banding techniques, mist netting protocols, restraint and handling of birds, and general data collection methodologies. BFREE has trained 13 Belizean Avian Technicians in small groups of 3 over the past five years. Experienced avian experts, researchers and banders from the US have visited BFREE to offer training courses.
  • MoSI Sites - BFREE has established and maintained 4 MoSI (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal) sites in Belize that provide information on the overwinter survivorship of migratory birds in the tropics.
  • The Bladen Nature Reserve (BNR) is a 99,673-acre reserve, which makes up the core conservation area within the Maya Mountains; it currently has the highest form of environmental protection within Belize with entry permitted for scientific research or education only. The BFREE avian program is the longest running, most scientifically productive and integrated research program that has taken place in the reserve since its establishment in 1990, and is the only research project completely managed and conducted by Belizeans.
Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo

One Award was presented for Public Awareness

Alicia F. King (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Alicia is the Communication Coordinator and National Coordinator for the Urban Bird Treaty grant program for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  No newcomer to bird conservation, she has been an ardent supporter of bird conservation since the age of 6, when she created signs for a public meetings to advocate for protection of a local park slated for development.  To Alicia, that park was an important place to a Pileated Woodpecker, which she saw.  Undoubtedly the city’s decision to purchase the property and maintain the land as a neighborhood park was due to that tenacious little girl.

 

As a professional, Alicia has taken her passion for bird conservation to new heights.  In the early 1980’s, she honed her communication skills as an interpreter and began working with education programs and community outreach.  After returning to Indiana, she was the newsletter editor for the PIF Indiana Working Group.  She then worked for Wild Birds Unlimited, where she created For the Birds, a locally-aired television segment.  Because of her communication skills she became the company’s Nature Education and Cause Related Marketing Specialist, creating press releases, web content, and other materials.  In 2004, Alicia joined American Bird Conservancy as the Director of the Bird Conservation Alliance.  Her communication skills sparked the program’s growth to over 225 organizational members, and her enthusiasm resulted in a proliferation of communication pieces, such as the Saving Neotropical Migratory Birds for the Future report, magazine articles, and presentations.

 

As the current Communications Coordinator for the USFWS Migratory Bird Program, she works with all forms of public awareness, from Facebook to print, presentations for courses at the National Conservation Training Center and for numerous youth programs.  She coordinated the State of the Birds report from 2009 – 2011, which is being used as a model by states to address the conservation status of birds and their habitats at the state level.  She is also the USFWS lead on International Migratory Bird Day, promoting outreach and education at over 130 refuges across the United States.

 

Alicia has affected untold number of youth and adults through her outreach programs and materials. She is not afraid to serve as a television program host, and hosted the PBS program, BirdWatch.  She authored the Orvis Beginners Guide to Birdwatching and has written many book chapters, magazine articles, and education brochures. She is a motivator, and her work has expanded the Bird Conservation Alliance; provided growth in the number of U.S. cities participating in the Urban Bird Treaty program; and managed the Pathways to Nature Conservation Fund (1997 – 2004).

Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo

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