Rock Island’s Mike Coffey Among National Recovery Champs
By Georgia Parham
Every year we recognize outstanding people nationwide whose efforts have helped endangered and threatened species on the road to recovery. This year, 61 individuals from around the country were recognized as Recovery Champions, and among them were the Midwest Region’s Mike Coffey and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources plant ecologist Nancy Sather.
Service Biologist Mike Coffey (pictured here) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Plant Ecologist Nancy Sather were among 61 people nationwide honored as Recovery Champions. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Melody Coffey)
Service biologist Mike Coffey, who works out of the Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office in Illinois, was recognized for his efforts to conserve freshwater mussels in Iowa and Illinois. Throughout his 20-year career, Mike has led efforts to improve water quality, identify mussels affected by contaminants, and support efforts to reintroduce mussels into cleaner waters.
His activities have resulted in mussel population increases, research breakthroughs, increased public awareness, support for conserving the species, and improved landowner actions and relationships.
Also honored with a Recovery Champion Award was Nancy Sather, a plant ecologist with our partners from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Nancy has been a major figure in the recovery of endangered and threatened plants in Minnesota and the Midwest region for over 20 years. She has had key roles in developing recovery plans for at least three federally listed plants – western prairie fringed orchid, prairie bush clover, and Minnesota dwarf trout lily.
Nancy is a member of two recovery teams, and has served as recovery team leader for western prairie fringed orchid for more than 15 years. She has also coordinated one of the most ambitious endangered plant monitoring programs in the United States.
“We are proud of these endangered species heroes in the Midwest,” said Tom Melius, Regional Director. “Nancy’s work and keen field observations have revealed key aspects of the life history of rare plants, ensuring that actions we take to conserve these species are effective. And Mike has shown an enthusiastic and never-ending commitment to recovering endangered mussels – species that are important indicators of the health of our own environment.”
The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002 as a one-time recognition for Service staff members for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
For information about the Recovery Champions, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/recovery-champions/index.html.