The National Wildlife Refuge Association has honored an Arkansas refuge manager, a Gulf Coast biologist, a Midway Atoll volunteer and a Minnesota Friends group with 2016 National Wildlife Refuge System awards.

Keith Weaver received the Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award.

Weaver is manager at Central Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge Complex. He was honored for his 31-year career in conservation during which he has managed 11 refuges in five states. The award recognizes Weaver’s work in acquiring 10,327 acres of habitat in the past two years at Cache River Refuge, one of the complex’s six refuges. The award also honors his work to establish a new Friends group and form partnerships to aid in conservation beyond refuge boundaries.

Weaver’s “strong work ethic, excellence in developing partnerships and passion for the mission of the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service is evident on a daily basis,” Refuge Association president David Houghton said. “He is loved by the community, respected by colleagues and highly skilled in protecting wildlife.”

Douglas M. Head II received the Refuge Employee of the Year Award.

Head is an assistant zone biologist at Texas Chenier Plain Refuges Complex, Mid-Coast Refuge Complex and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas and at Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Head was recognized as “a well-round biologist and a problem-solver who demonstrates innovation and ingenuity.” He was credited with managing more than 30,000 acres of wild and prescribed fire; providing educational outreach to urban youth; helping to establish new monitoring techniques to assess the impacts of grazing and hydrological management; and designing a permanent platform system to monitor the effect of sea-level rise on marsh ecosystems.

Ann Humphrey received the Volunteer of the Year Award. Humphrey was honored for “her unwavering support for Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.” Because of Midway Atoll’s remote location, volunteering there requires a move to the island for the entire volunteer service tour. Since 2007, Humphrey has completed four service tours of various lengths.

In 2014, Humphrey identified volunteer program deficiencies and opportunities, and worked with refuge management to improve the program. She also helped develop a new system for recruiting and selecting Midway Atoll volunteers. The resulting 20-person volunteer corps has provided more than 26,500 hours of service to the refuge since March 2014.

Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota received the Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award. The Friends group was honored for its successful campaign to build the Tamarac Discovery Center. Upon completion, this $800,000 environmental education center was donated to the refuge. The group also was cited for being instrumental in expanding the refuge’s ability to provide family-oriented outdoor experiences.