The National Wildlife Refuge Association announced the winners of its annual awards for 2022. The Pacific Southwest Region had a strong representation by winning three of the five categories. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, promote, and enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries.
Every year, the National Wildlife Refuge Association honors the outstanding accomplishments of refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers, Friends Groups and refuge advocates through their Refuge System Awards program. The award winners were selected based on a variety of factors, including a commitment to the conservation of natural resources, volunteers who demonstrate dedication to the goals and objectives of the refuge system, effectiveness in dealing with the public and dependability.
The Refuge Employee of the Year Award was established to recognize the outstanding work of the men and women who serve the National Wildlife Refuge System. Robert Peloquin, a federal wildlife officer at Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada, was selected as the refuge employee of the year.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Rob for almost 20 years,” said Curt McCasland, refuge manager, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “Through that time, he has always been an excellent ambassador for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Rob is an incredibly positive individual who is willing to work across all refuge programs. He is also an incredibly gifted law enforcement officer, who is a consummate professional - equally gifted in welcoming and orienting our visitors while also protecting our resources and through positive engagement with visitors.”
The Refuge Volunteer of the Year Award was established to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of volunteers in the operation and management of the Refuge System. Rod Colvin, a volunteer at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility in Nevada, was selected as the refuge volunteer of the year.
“I am humbled by Rod’s selflessness, his knowledge and abilities, his quiet can-do attitude, and the example he sets for public servants,” said Mike Bower, Ash Meadows’ NWR Manager. “I don’t believe any of us can really repay our debt of gratitude to Rod for everything he has done for Ash Meadows NWR, but the Volunteer of the Year award seems the only truly fitting recognition.”
“Rod has a genuine passion for the desert and Ash Meadows NWR and works hard to ensure others have the opportunity to see the refuge through his eyes,” said McCasland. “He achieves this through his excellent photography skills and his hard work in maintaining Ash Meadows NWR.”
The Molly Krival - Refuge Friends Group of the Year Award honors a Friends organization that demonstrates innovation and excellence in advancing the mission of the refuge system, provides a positive community influence, works as an independent advocate to protect the natural resource and strives to influence support for the local refuge and the refuge system as a whole. The Friends of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge in California was selected as the Molly Krival - Refuge Friends Group of the Year.
“While I have only been with the refuge for a short time, the passion and commitment of the Friends of Seal Beach NWR has been immediately apparent,” said Mac Purvin, the refuge manager of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. “Their dedication to wildlife and habitat conservation is top-notch, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them. The Friends of the Year award is certainly well deserved.”
“I’m so excited for the Friends of Seal Beach NWR,” said Rick Nye, the refuge manager of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. “I got the honor of getting to work with them for many years, and it would be hard to find a group more dedicated or more passionate about their refuge. They will leap any hurdle to pick up trash, remove invasive plants, or talk to people about the value this wildlife refuge provides.”
The awards ceremony was held in Washington D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel on September 14, 2022, and was live streamed on the Internet. At the end of the ceremony Wayne Hubbard, a board member of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, thanked everyone for coming and pointed out that the centerpieces on the tables represented different plants and species of diversity that can be seen in the different refuge systems across the country.
“It was very humbling and a great honor,” said Colvin. “I got to meet some really great people who support the refuge systems across the country.”