Fostering a Sense of Wonder in Utah: Kathi Stopher of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Receives 2014 Sense of Wonder Award
For Immediate Release
December 17, 2014
BRIGHAM CITY, Utah – Kathi Stopher, Visitor Services Manager at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (MBR) in Utah, was recently honored with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2014 “Sense of Wonder” award for her efforts to connect people – especially children – to the outdoors. The award takes its name from a book by the great conservationist and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, Rachel Carson, who urged adults to help children develop a sense of wonder about the natural world. The Sense of Wonder award is the agency’s highest honor for achievement in environmental education and interpretation.
Stopher was selected from a national field of candidates for the award, which was presented in November at the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) conference in Denver, Colorado. Stopher is currently in charge of all education and visitor services programs at Bear River MBR.
Over the past 8 years, Stopher has created an environmental education program entitled, “Mountain Wilds to Wetland Wonders” that connects people to nature and energizes the surrounding community's passion for the refuge and the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem. Kathi has included everyone from preschool-age children to university interns in her environmental education programs, allowing children from the surrounding areas to "grow up with – and on – the Refuge." She has made special efforts to include underserved and minority youth in her programs, including rural and urban communities.
Thanks to Kathi’s leadership, more than 80,000 young people have benefitted from the Refuge’s programs. This includes all Box Elder and Cache County District fourth graders. The experience Kathi has created for this cadre of students has in turn created additional interest in the Refuge by the community. The number of visitors has increased over the years of Kathi's tenure, as excited students bring their families and friends to the Refuge to share their experiences and pass on what they have learned. This, in turn, has had a very positive impact on refuge volunteers – as they find their own passion for the natural world reflected in the eyes of these young visitors.
Under Kathi’s keen vision, the environmental education program at Bear River MBR provides the opportunity for youth to choose careers in conservation. With the experiences and connections of “Mountain Wilds to Wetland Wonders,” Kathi Stopher cultivates a sense of wonder in tomorrow’s conservation heroes.
To learn more about Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah, visit:
– FWS –