While I spent much of my time giving talks and presentations during the recent Fall Tour, I also had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of several presentations as well.
Oct. 2 during a private ceremony at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, I accepted the Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award from one of my personal heroes, Dr. E.O. Wilson. Dr. Wilson is arguably one of the most respected and trusted scientists in the world, known as the father of biodiversity, and is the recipient of many scientific and conservation awards himself. He presented me with this award, and getting to meet him is one of the highlights of my career. I was honoured when he told the crowd at the university during the ceremony that “the world needs more Laurie Markers” This made me so proud of all our interns and students over the years that I have mentored and know that so many of them are in the forefront of conservation today!
On Oct. 18, I was recognized with an Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Award by The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York. The medal is given annually to those who have made significant contributions in areas that were the focus of Eleanor Roosevelt’s public life, such as education, advocacy, social justice, public service and human rights. Given that Eleanor Roosevelt is truly one of the greatest women to have lived during the 21st century, I felt exceptionally honored to be included in this year’s group of recipients being recognized for the work we do with people in order to help save the cheetah.
During the annual meeting of my colleagues at the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), they announced that I was the recipient of this year’s Ulysses S. Seal Award for Innovation in Conservation. The meeting was held in mid-October in the United Arab Emirates, and unfortunately, I was unable to attend because I was on tour in the U.S.. The award, named for one of my mentors, and a man who worked closely with a few of us in the 1980’s to develop our global long-term strategy for cheetah conservation, was a distinguished biochemist who made preservation of the planet’s biodiversity his life’s work.This award is given annually to the person who “exemplifies innovation in the application of science to conservation.”
The late Dr. Seal was intensively involved with endangered species conservation, founding the International Species Information System, a global, central database that provides computerized animal management for more than 500 zoological institutions worldwide, and the founder of the CBSG, which works with field biologists and governments to develop conservation plans. Ulie was not only a mentor, but a friend, and I, along with those he took under his wing and taught, miss him dearly.
The news of all three awards really caught me off guard. I did not even know I was nominated when I received news I had won. I am deeply appreciative to these institutions and to the people who nominated me. I believe awards are a direct reflection of the quality of individuals and organizations that have supported myself and CCF throughout my career; without them, there would not be any contributions worth recognizing. My thanks to you all.