Haskell Award Winners
Haskell Award Winners
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PARC is proud to announce the 2013 recipient of the Alison Haskell Award is John Jensen.
John’s peers describe him as “productive and encouraging,” and “an ardent conservationist.” He has played a key role in conservation efforts involving diverse players ranging from the private sector (including corporations as big and influential as Georgia Power), state and federal government, conservation organizations such as The Orianne Society, citizens, and researchers. He was the lead Editor of the book, Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia, which was completed with the involvement of dozens of authors and photographers, and with funding from multiple sources.
Most notably, John has directly contributed to the conservation of imperiled amphibians and reptiles. He has been at the center of the Indigo Snake repatriation project in Alabama, expediting collection and transport of Georgia snakes for the captive breeding program. This has directly resulted in the successful repatriation of this federally threatened species in Alabama. John was the nexus between partners at Auburn University, Project Orianne, Zoo Atlanta, and state and federal governments, and it is unlikely that this project would have succeeded without his influence. Similarly, a project involving players from Zoo Atlanta, The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the University of Georgia successfully reintroduced Gopher Frogs from captive-reared donor populations to sites with suitable habitat within Georgia. This effort was an attempt to boost numbers of this rare frog and preclude its need for listing as an endangered species.
Another major accomplishment that John led was in gaining protection for Georgia’s freshwater turtles. This effort required keen political skills and an unprecedented publicity campaign. Through his influence as the Georgia state herpetologist, John was able to move a piece of legislation through the conservative state government to finally protect aquatic turtles.
Finally, through his efforts and partnerships, John was able to facilitate the conversion of two rattlesnake roundups to wildlife festivals despite reluctant event organizers. John was able to allay their concerns, and he was able to convince them to convert the Fitzgerald roundup and the Claxton roundup (once the state’s largest) into a festivals that focus on education and wildlife appreciation. Neither event now harms snakes nor relies on wild-caught individuals.
John’s efforts and achievements have touched and influenced many people along the way, significantly improving the herpetofaunal conservation landscape in Georgia in the process. PARC thanks John for all of his dedication and commitment, and his embodiment of an unsung hero!
PARC is proud to announce that the 2014 recipient of the Alison Haskell Award is Dr. Jeffrey T. Briggler!
Jeff is most widely recognized as a leading expert in hellbender ecology, and has collaborated with partners across state and agency lines to help reverse population declines. His collaborative endeavors to further species conservation extend from local, state, and federal to international partners. He freely shares with others his knowledge regarding survey techniques, disease testing and treatment, and husbandry and propagation protocols, which has benefited hellbender researchers studying cryptobranchids throughout the world. He is also a founding member of the Ozark Hellbender Working Group, which began in 2001. Many of this group's accomplishments can be attributed to Jeff's leadership and dedication.
In 2011, Jeff's efforts helped to realize a major triumph: Ozark Hellbenders were bred at the Saint Louis Zoo, marking the first time hellbenders had bred in captivity! This success was surpassed in 2012 when Ozark Hellbenders bred again at the zoo, resulting in eight egg clutches. Captive breeding was an incredible feat involving over ten years of collaboration, and will help Ozark Hellbenders persist while population declines in the wild are investigated and addressed.
Jeff is not only committed to hellbender conservation, but to conservation of all herpetofauna throughout the state of Missouri and beyond. He oversees state regulations and protections for all herpetofauna in Missouri, extensively documents the distribution of amphibian pathogens throughout the state, conducts a variety of research and monitoring, and works with land managers to encourage land management practices conducive to herpetofaunal conservation. He also makes the time to disseminate his conservation findings through peer-reviewed publications and presentations to both professional audiences and audiences of the general public (including popular media).
Jeff's passion for conserving herpetofauna touches all those with whom he interacts. His ability to bring professionalism, scientific rigor, and a collaborative approach to his work, while still maintaining his enthusiasm and fascination with the animals, is truly the key to successful conservation. PARC thanks him for his tireless and continued passion, work and dedication to amphibians and reptiles!
PARC is proud to announce the 2013 recipient of the Alison Haskell Award was Charles Painter.
Charlie's career long contributions to herpetofauna conservation, leadership roles and ability to build effective partnerships make him a very deserving winner of this award. Through this award, PARC recognizes Charlie's outstanding passion for, and dedication to, conservation of amphibians and reptiles through quality science, education and partnerships.
He has formed numerous partnerships to implement conservation actions with local, state and federal agencies, universities, tribes and private landowners, among others. Charlie has developed conservation teams, plans or actions for the Jemez Mountain Salamander, Sacramento Mountain Salamander, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, New Mexico Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake, Boreal Toad, Western River Cooter, Big Bend Slider and all of New Mexico's other fascinating herpetofauna. He's developed and fostered a strong relationship with the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico, through which one of the strongest herpetofauna collections in the nation has been built and maintained. He's displayed tenacious effort by developing commercial trade regulations for New Mexico's amphibians and reptiles and studying rattlesnake roundups in the region. Also, Charlie has participated in Southwest PARC and assisted in numerous regional and national PARC efforts to compile information on our nation's amphibians and reptiles.
His academic achievements have significantly advanced herpetofauna conservation. He's served on thesis and dissertation committees that shaped several scholars in herpetology that have gone on to make valuable contributions to the scientific community. Charlie has authored over 80 peer reviewed articles, served as editor for Herpetological Review, became the first state herpetologist for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and has remained committed for over 25 years, and authored the 1996 book Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. In addition to these accomplishments, he still finds time to teach school children about the importance and fascinating nature of amphibians and reptiles.
Charlie's achievements are truly noteworthy and deserve great recognition from the herpetofauna conservation community. PARC thanks him for his tireless and continued passion, work and dedication to amphibians and reptiles!
PARC is proud to announce that the winner of the second (2012) Alison Haskell Award for Excellence in Herpetofaunal Conservation was Dr. Deanna (Dede) H. Olson.
Dede earned her Ph.D. at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Among her many roles she now serves as Leader of the Aquatic Ecology and Management Team for the U.S. Forest Service where she is employed as Supervisory Research Ecologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis. Additionally she is a Courtesy Faculty member at Oregon State University, an Associate Editor for Herpetological Review and past Associate Editor for the Northwestern Naturalist, out-going Co-Chair of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation where she will continue to serve as an ex-officio member of Joint National Steering Commmittee, and the Lead of the Aquatic Biodiversity in Forests working party for the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
Prior to becoming the Co-chair of the Joint National Steering Committee of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation she was the Co-Chair from 1999-2009 of the PARC Northwest Regional Working Group. Other partnerships she developed include with the Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology where she has served as both Vice-President and President and the Pacific Northwest Working Group, Declining Amphibians Populations Task Force where she served as Co-chair.
Dr. Olson has fostered conservation through research, often in partnership with land managers, and through outreach and education. Dede is well-known for her leadership of the Riparian Buffer study that she initiated in 1994 in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management. She has been at the lead of an international effort to characterize the global extent and implications of amphibian declines associated with the fungus known as Bd. She has also taken a leadership role in The Year of the Turtle (2011) and The Year of the Lizard (2012).
Dr. Olson provides a broad range of service across scientific working groups, mentorship, and conservation education. Of particular importance has been the role Dede has played as mentor. Through various university affiliations, she has served as guiding professor for 8 students and a committee member 26 students. Additional she has mentored both undergraduate and high school students. She has served as chair and in other leadership positions for several professional societies. Most recently she serves as a committee member of an international group focused on aquatic biodiversity. In this role Dr. Olson organized a symposium for the 2010 International Union of Forest Research Organizations World Congress in Seoul, Korea. Dede's work in the area of conservation is reflected in her over 90 publications that directly address conservation of biodiversity.
Our first-ever Alison Haskell Excellence in Herpetofaunal Conservation Award winner was Alvin R. "Al" Breisch. Al was the Amphibian and Reptile Specialist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for 26 years until he retired in 2009. He is a current National Co-Chair of PARC, and was a founding member of Northeast PARC.
Al Breisch has fostered herpetofaunal conservation for his entire adult life, through his chosen career with the state of New York, as well as in his participation in multiple groups such as PARC, partnerships with universities and other organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society, mentorship of students of all ages, and leadership in numerous efforts to conserve multiple species of herpetofauna within New York and across the country.
From 1980 to his retirement in 2009, Al was a dedicated and well-respected Senior Wildlife Biologist with the New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation. He served as the Amphibian and Reptile Specialist for the Endangered Species Unit from 1983-2009. In that capacity, Al led state-wide efforts for all aspects of herpetofaunal conservation through research, monitoring, regulatory review, teaching and law enforcement. Some of his many accomplishments include:
- Serving as Project Director of the New York Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project
- Serving as a member of a multi-state team to prepare a Timber Rattlesnake Conservation Action Plan for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS);
- Designing and conducting habitat use studies of bog turtles and separately with Blanding's turtles;
- Coordinating New York State's efforts to document distribution and population status of rare and endangered herpetofauna;
- Assisting the Albany County Office of Natural Resource Conservation with planning and design of New York's first amphibian tunnels, constructed in 1999.
Al may be best known for his role as Mentor. He has provided technical assistance to NYDEC staff, students, faculty, and independent contractors with their field studies of various amphibians and reptiles from throughout the Northeast to Texas and to the West Indies. He has taught at SUNY-Cobleskill and has been an invited speaker to numerous colleges and university classes. He has served as thesis advisor and on graduate student committees at the State University of New York at Albany, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, and Bard College. He has led countless school groups, 4-H clubs, scouts, college classes, as well as his two daughters and now his grandchildren, on field trips to show them the natural world, particularly the herpetofauna he loves.
Conservationists young and old, local and nationally known, and from numerous agencies and organizations, have enjoyed working with, and being inspired by, Al's dedication, expertise, gentle nature, and quiet wit. In his retirement Al continues to oversee several projects including the NYS Amphibian and Reptile Atlas, and on many a rainy night, he can be found near the amphibian tunnels built near his home monitoring their effectiveness. PARC congratulates our "unsung hero" Al Breisch as our first-ever Alison Haskell Award winner.