National Wildlife Refuge System

2014 Refuge System Awards

Friends Forward February 2014

The National Wildlife Refuge Association has announced the winners of its prestigious annual awards:

  • Andy Yuen – Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year
  • Kenneth McCain – Employee of the Year
  • Bob and Sharon Waldrop – Volunteers of the Year
  • Friends of Tualatin River Refuge – Friends of the Year
Friends of Tualatin River Refuge, OR, won the Friends Group of the Year in part for hosting nearly 2,000 students for environmental education activities on the refuge.
Credit: USFWS

Friends of Tualatin River Refuge in Oregon, is honored for the group’s environmental education programs, bird monitoring and coordination of the Tualatin River Bird Festival. The 17th annual Tualatin River Bird Festival welcomed more than 800 visitors to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge this year, despite torrential downpours. The more than 17,000 hours of volunteer time contributed by the Friends in 2013 included hosting nearly 1,900 students and teachers through workshops and field trips, Spring Break Exploration Days, Creative Nature Camps, interpretive programs, and informal after school education programs - all designed to teach children first-hand about conservation and their local refuge.

In 2013, in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Friends group, the Mayor of Sherwood proclaimed the city “Home of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge,” recognizing the valuable relationship between the city, the refuge, and the Friends.

Volunteers Bob and Sharon Waldrop divide their time between Crab Orchard Refuge, IL, and Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex.
Credit: USFWS

Bob and Sharon Waldrop are recognized for decades of service as volunteers at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Carbondale, Illinois, in the summer and the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex in the winter (where they stay on the refuge in their RV).

The Waldrops have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Refuge System, donating their time and expertise to help refuge staff address emergencies in the face of natural and manmade disasters. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they packed up and traveled to Louisiana four months early, spending spent eight months clearing trees from roads, running new water and electric lines, hard-wiring a generator and ensuring that the volunteer campground was functioning.  In 2010, they were back to help after the BP oil spill. They also played a key role in converting an aging and vacant chapel into a visitor center for the refuge complex.

Bob and Sharon Waldrop have trained, mentored, educated and guided 160+ interns and other volunteers.  Whether repairing fishing poles at annual fishing rodeos, or talking to visitors at kiosk stations, with each interaction, they are enthusiastic ambassadors of the Refuge System.

Andy Yuen at San Diego Bay Refuge, CA, is Refuge Manager of the Year.
Credit: Judy Gibson

Andy Yuen, manager of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California, is being honored for his conservation vision and his ability to give his staff the space to learn, grow and ultimately do great work. Yuen began his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in his native Hawaii in 1984 in the Student Career Experience Program.

In 1992, Yuen helped establish of the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. Yuen was one of the first refuge managers to provide work opportunities for wounded military service members as they transitioned from the military to the civilian workforce.  The partnerships Yuen developed with other federal agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations resulted in completion of a 300-acre coastal wetland restoration project at San Diego Bay Refuge as well as grant funding for trail and bikeway projects.

Kenneth McCain, federal wildlife offer at Lower Suwanee and Cedar Keys Refuges, FL, is the 2014 Employee of the Year.
Credit: USFWS

Kenneth McCain is a federal wildlife officer at Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges in Florida. During a 24-year career with the Refuge System, his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, and his hands-on style of law enforcement have reduced transgressions significantly and saved the government thousands of dollars.

A master at identifying illegal activities and unsurpassed with conducting interviews, McCain has gained the utmost respect from the public. Thanks to his public relations skills, he has inspired people to treat the refuges as if they were their own, and as a result local residents effectively “patrol” the refuges and watch out for rule breakers. In 2012, McCain also received the Florida Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Outdoorsman of the Year award.


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Last updated: February 21, 2014