National Wildlife Refuge System

2015 Refuge System Awards


March 3, 2015 –The 2015 winners of the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s annual National Wildlife Refuge System Awards exemplify the outstanding conservation management skills and volunteer leadership that make the Refuge System the world-class conservation network it is.

 

“The men and women represented among this year’s winners truly are the cream of the crop,” said David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “They remind us just how dedicated and passionate the employees and volunteers of the National Wildlife Refuge System are.

 

The 2015 Refuge System Award recipients are:

 

Tom Kerr
Tom Kerr wins the Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award for his ability to engage the local community around St. Croix Wetland Management District and Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge, WI.
Credit: NWRA

Thomas Kerr: The Paul Kroegel  Refuge Manager of the Year Award
Tom Kerr is refuge manager at St. Croix Wetland Management District and Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin is honored for his dedication to the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his ability to engage and connect with the local community. Kerr began his career in 1989 as a Cooperative Student at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. As refuge manager at St. Croix WMD, Kerr established the Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District in 2010, which helped bridge the gap between the public and the wetland management district. Kerr is an excellent leader to his staff and routinely gives presentations to the local community to raise awareness about the refuge.

 

John Vradenburg
Refuge Employee of the Year is John Vradenburg, supervisory biologist at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM.
Credit: NWRA

John Vradenburg: Refuge Employee of the Year Award
John Vradenburg is being honored for his outstanding work as the supervisory biologist at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Vradenburg’s dedication to the refuge and its conservation efforts is clear. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to not only ensure the conservation of sensitive species, but also to involve the public in conservation efforts. In his nine years on the refuge, Vradenburg has improved the soil quality and improved the water drawdown system both to increase native vegetation and prevent against invasives. Vradenburg’s foresight and drive have also benefitted local wildlife. He began a management plan on the refuge for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse before it was listed in 2014 and thus positioned the refuge in a much better place to aid in the recovery.

 

Vradenburg is also considered a leader in the community, continuously providing opportunities for the area youth to learn on the refuge. Always looking to accomplish more for wildlife, Mr. Vradenburg is the epitome of the ideal biologist. He looks for ways to advance conservation efforts on the refuge despite a shrinking budget, he doesn’t quit, and has a positive personality that bring people along with him to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

 

Wiley Dub Lyon
Wiley ‘Dub’ Lyon is being honored as Volunteer of the Year for his unwavering support for the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. 
Credit: NWRA

Wiley ‘Dub’ Lyon: Volunteer of the Year Award
After building his own home and retiring from American Airlines where he supervised aircraft landing, take-off, and maintenance, Wiley "Dub" Lyon found a place where he could apply his many skills – Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX.  After donating 1,168 hours in his first eight months, it was apparent Lyon was not an average refuge volunteer. He serves as the volunteer coordinator, organized the annual Friends meeting and Refuge Volunteer Awards ceremony, worked with other volunteers to make sure teachers were able to schedule environmental education programs, collected public use data, and always finds ways to accomplish repair jobs in a cost-effective way. Lyon has been elected as President of the Friends of Balcones twice and was elected to the Board of Directors for the past six years.

 

Friends of Bos
The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year goes to Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM.
Credit: NWRA

Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award
The Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico will receive the award recently renamed to honor the late Molly Krival – a pioneer of the Friends movement. The Friends of the Bosque del Apache coordinates the annual Festival of the Cranes, an event that draws more than 6,000 people from around the world, and generates $2.5 million, making it the single greatest income-generating event in the county. The Friends also provide environmental education opportunities for students from the surrounding community. In addition, the Friends are active advocates for the refuge and the Refuge System by visiting the Capitol, hosting events for legislators on the refuge, and writing letters to their representatives.

 

This year’s awards will be presented at a reception in Washington, DC on March 24, 2015.

Last updated: March 9, 2015