Conservation Awards

Conservation award winners for 2020

Conserving habitat for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife is a primary goal of Robert Cooper Audubon Society. Since 1983, our Society has honored more 150 individuals who conserve and restore habitat or educate the public about the importance of protecting wildlife and maintaining biodiversity. In 2020, we celebrate the contributions of four individuals who have long been champions of the environment.

In the coming weeks, videos about the work of each honoree will be available online, but in the meantime, scroll down to learn about each of them and their important work!

2020 award winners

Doug SpenceCooper Award: Doug Spence
The chapter's highest honor, the Robert H. and Esther L. Cooper Award, is bestowed upon Doug Spence, owner and operator of Spence Restoration Nursery. For more than 20 years, Doug has propagated native wildflowers, sedges, rushes, and grasses for restoration projects across the region. The seeds of these 140-plus species of plants originated from the remnant prairies, wetlands, and woodlands of Indiana.

Stretching across 240 acres in Delaware County, this wholesale nursery supplies seeds and plugs for conservation projects throughout the Great Lakes region. The nursery produces more than 50,000 milkweed plugs a year to use in restoration projects like the Maumee and Cuyahoga River wetlands in Ohio to protect Lake Erie from pollution runoff. Doug also supported a pioneering effort to develop a milkweed gin that separates the milkweed floss from the seed. The floss is then sold as a hypoallergenic filling for pillows, comforters, and coat linings.

Julie BorgmannYuhas Award: Julie Borgmann
The Phyllis Yuhas Wildlife Habitat Preservation Award recognizes individuals and organizations for "development or preservation of habitat that contains significant wildlife and/or native plant life populations." This year we honor Julie Borgmann. As Executive Director of Red-tail Land Conservancy, her vision and leadership have been instrumental in protecting and nurturing native trees, forbs, and ephemerals of our wetland, prairie, and woodland habitats.

Recognizing the threats of urbanization and a warming world, Julie has led an ecological assessment of the landscape of East Central Indiana for the purpose of identifying the most vulnerable habitats for supporting biodiversity. This analysis informed a Strategic Land Conservation Plan that will focus the work of Red-tail in protecting habitat that provides critical food and shelter for birds and other wildlife in our region.

Jeff Timmons and Lois RockhillHibbs Award: Lois Rockhill & Jeff Timmons
For their work to monitor and educate the public about Peregrine Falcons, we award the Clyde W. Hibbs Conservation Education Award to Lois Rockhill and Jeff Timmons. For more than a year, Lois and Jeff have monitored a pair of falcons that successfully nested in downtown Anderson. Jeff worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the building manager to have a nest box installed on the falcons' preferred building.

As monitors, Lois and Jeff spent many hours observing and photographing the nesting, hatching, banding, and fledging progress. Lois created a Facebook site to publish their results and to encourage the community to share its own sightings. You can also see more of Lois and Jeff's work in our latest newsletter.

Conservation award categories

Each autumn, the Robert Cooper Audubon Society honors individuals and organizations that have made noteworthy contributions to conservation and environmental education in our region over the past year. 

Awards are given in these categories:

Robert H. and Esther L. Cooper Conservation Award: the chapter's highest honor, for overall contributions to, conservation of, and appreciation for the natural environment

Clyde W. Hibbs Conservation Education Award: for excellence in educating the area's children, youth, and /or adults on conservation issues and practices

Richard Greene Public ServiceAward: for active involvement in serving the public's environmental interests and concerns

Phyllis Yuhas Wildlife Habitat Preservation Award: for development or preservation of habitat that contains significant wildlife and/or native plant life populations

Charles D. Wise Youth Conservation Award: for excellence in conservation practices by a youth under the age of 18

Award nominees and recipients need not reside in our chapter’s seven-county region or be affiliated with the Audubon Society.

Past award winners

Our chapter presented its first two conservation awards in 1983 and quickly expanded to four annual awards. The Charles D. Wise Youth Conservation Award followed in 2003. All five awards given today are named in honor of individuals who've had a significant impact in our community's or chapter's work to serve and protect the natural environment.

You can peruse the entire list here.