The National Wildlife Refuge Association has honored two individuals, one couple and a Friends group with 2014 National Wildlife Refuge System awards.

Andy Yuen received the Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award.

Photo of Andy Yuen
Andy Yuen received the Refuge Manager of the Year Award for his work at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California.

Yuen, manager of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was cited for his conservation vision, his ability to give his staff space to do great work and being an outside–the–box thinker.

Yuen, who has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1984, was described as one the first Service managers to provide work experience opportunities for wounded military service members as they transitioned to the civilian workforce.

He was also praised for coordinating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Coastal Conservancy, Port of San Diego, U.S. Navy and the cities of Imperial Beach and Coronado to complete a 300–acre coastal wetland restoration project that restored 230 acres of tidal salt marsh on San Diego Bay Refuge and enhanced an additional 70 acres of coastal uplands and wetlands on port property along San Diego Bay. A similar partnership resulted in funding to implement trail and bikeway projects that improve access for observing wildlife along the bay.

Kenneth McCain received the Employee of the Year Award.

Photo of Kenneth McCain
Kenneth McCain, federal wildlife officer at Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges in Florida, was honored as Employee of the Year.

McCain, federal wildlife officer at Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges in Florida, was honored for his hands–on style of law enforcement, his skill at identifying illegal activities and conducting interviews, and his ability to gain the public’s respect.

“He genuinely cares about the refuges and their purpose, and he is passionate about communicating this purpose to the public,” Refuge Association president David Houghton said of McCain, a 24–year Service employee. “Kenny doesn’t just enforce the law; he educates people about why certain rules are in place.”

Bob and Sharon Waldrop received the Volunteer of the Year Award.

The Waldrops were honored for more than a decade of service as volunteers at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex.

Together, the couple has contributed 32,693 volunteer hours so far to the Refuge System—almost 16 years of 40–hour workweeks. The Waldrops also were credited with training more than 160 interns and volunteers in various skills and crafts.

“Whether it was restoration after Hurricane Katrina or clean–up efforts in the wake of the BP oil spill, the Waldrops could be counted on to dive right in and help the refuge recover from unthinkable disaster,” Houghton said of the Waldrops, who typically spend summers up north and winters down south.

Friends of Tualatin River Refuge received the Friends Group of the Year Award.

The Friends group that supports Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in suburban Portland, OR, was honored for outstanding efforts working in the refuge’s wildlife center, providing environmental education programs, maintaining the refuge, monitoring birds, and planning and implementing the Tualatin River Bird Festival. Last year, the group contributed more than 17,000 hours of volunteer time to the refuge. Also last year, in recognition of the Friend group’s 20th anniversary, the mayor of Sherwood, OR, proclaimed the city “Home of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.”