For Immediate Release
Berkeley, January 6, 2012 – A pioneer of the field of historical ecology, a conservation leader who is leading efforts to confront climate change, and a high school student dedicated to protecting San FranciscoBay are this year’s recipients of Bay Nature Institute’s 2012 Local HeroAwards.
Each year, Bay Nature Institute honors several individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding and stewardship of the natural world of the Bay Area. According to BNI Executive Director David Loeb: “These three individuals demonstrate a passion for local landscapes and watersheds that reflectsthe unique beauty and biodiversity of our Bay region. We’re excited to be able to honor their contributions.”
The winners are:
I. Conservation Advocate
In her 12 years at the helmof PRBO Conservation Science, Ellie Cohen has led the transformation of a group of scrappy and committed bird ecologists into a highly-respected applied science institution. Under her leadership, PRBO has built on its “science-to-solutions,” using science as the basis for conservation action and on-the-ground collaborations with public and private resource managers. Ellie played an early role in catalyzing the conservation community to not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but also to address the ecological impacts of climate change and employ nature-based solutions for wildlife and people. She co-founded and now chairs the Bay Area Ecosystem Climate Change Consortium, bringing together scientists and natural resource managers to work cooperatively to preserve local biodiversity in the face of accelerating climate change impacts. In 2009 she was named one of the “100 Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” in the U.S.
II. Environmental Educator
Robin Grossinger, Senior Scientist at the Historical Ecology Project of the San Francisco Estuary Institute, is being honored for his work unearthing and deciphering the historical landscapes and watersheds of the Bay Area. Grossinger has pioneered the use of archival materials, such as old maps and photos, to read beneath the surface of today’s transformed and urbanized topography. For the past 18 years, he has tirelessly communicated the results of this research to audiences around the Bay Area, including open space agencies and conservation organizations, to help them determine what kinds of habitat restoration efforts are most likely to succeed. According to Loeb, “Robin creates compelling and revealing portraits of how the Bay Area has changed over the past two and a half centuries and his work has had a profound impact on how we perceive, and interact with, our present-day landscapes .”
III. Youth Engagement
A senior at San Francisco’s LowellHigh School, Sean FitzHoward founded the Protect the Bay Club to educate fellow students about San Francisco Bay and inspire them to help protect it. Sean and her team participate in beach cleanups and habitat restoration efforts, and organize fundraisers for Bay-related nonprofits. According to San Francisco Bay Estuary Education Program director Patti Vance, “Sean is one of the most dedicated youth I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 15 years. Her determination in promoting conservation and teaching stewardship to others is quite remarkable.”
The awardees will receiverecognition for their commitment to conserving Bay Area wildlife and ecosystemsat Bay Nature’s annual awards dinner, “Celebrating Local Nature and LocalHeroes,” on February 9, 2012, 6:30 –9:30 p.m., at the Brazilian Room in Tilden Regional Park. The event will alsofeature “An Expedition Along the California Coast” with award-winning Bay Areawildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas.
Bay Nature Institute is the publisher of Bay Nature magazine, the full-color quarterlydedicated to the informed and joyful exploration of the natural world of theBay Area. It is available both by subscription and at bookstores, newsstands, and park visitor centers throughout the Bay Area.