FWS Employees Win Sense of Wonder Honors

Kevin Painter at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
2017 Sense of Wonder award winner
Kevin Painter at Kenai National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska.

(Photo: Michael Carlo/USFWS)

Alaska Regional Interpretive and Education Specialist Kevin Painter is the national winner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 Sense of Wonder award, and six other employees are regional winners.

Painter was honored for his exceptional leadership, outreach and skill in developing and interpreting environmental education exhibits during his Service career in Alaska. Painter strives to make interpretive materials relevant and meaningful to a wide and diverse audience of Alaska residents and visitors.

 “Kevin has shown intense dedication to the idea of connecting people to nature from the audience’s perspective and in personal ways,” reads a Service release. “His vision, experience, skills, and teaching abilities are known and appreciated in Alaska, throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, and with conservation partners in other countries.”

A shot of all the FWS award winners

2017 Sense of Wonder honorees. (Photo: USFWS)

Regional 2017 Sense of Wonder honorees are:

Alice Garrett, special assistant, Pacific Region, for her role in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

Laurie Lomas Gonzales, wildlife biologist, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, for leading an initiative to connect five miles of city bike routes to refuge trails.

Kelly Blackledge, visitor services manager, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota, for leading a partnership of volunteers, community groups, schools and Friends volunteers in the design and construction of the Tamarac Discovery Center.

Toni Westland, supervisory refuge ranger, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, for growing and developing the refuge’s visitor services program, now serving 935,000 visitors a year.

Deloras Freeman, park ranger, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia,
for fostering a sense of wonder in both traditional supporters and underrepresented audiences.

Lori Iverson, outdoor recreation planner, National Elk Refuge, Wyoming, for creating outstanding interpretation, education and outreach programs at the refuge and in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

The annual Sense of Wonder awards honor U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees who have “designed, implemented, or shown visionary leadership in an interpretive or environmental education program that fosters a sense of wonder and enhances public stewardship of our wildlife heritage.”