Conservation Awards2018 winners

Conservation award winners for 2018

Our annual conservation awards program, held on October 28, was a festive celebration of the work of four individuals who’ve dedicated much of their lives to protecting and preserving nature in East Central Indiana.

Scroll down to learn a bit about our award winners. To see photos of the event, visit Robert Williams' photo gallery. (Photo at right by Robert Williams.) 

Robert H. and Esther L. Cooper Conservation Award: Barry Banks

Barry BanksThe chapter's highest honor—for overall contributions to, conservation of, and appreciation for the natural environment—was presented to Barry Banks. Barry’s vision and sweat resulted in the founding of the Red-tail Land Conservancy in 1999, and he has been a champion for the preservation and restoration of natural areas in East Central Indiana ever since.

As Red-tail’s executive director, prior to retiring in 2018, Barry led the organization’s efforts to preserve, protect, and restore natural areas and farm land in East Central Indiana. In doing so, Barry focused the resources of citizens, the Nature Conservancy, and local philanthropic organizations upon the importance and essence of conservation.  His leadership led to the protection of 2,670 acres that will provide habitat for native and migrating species into the foreseeable future. 

Clyde W. Hibbs Conservation Education Award: Don Ruch

Don RuchDr. Donald Ruch, professor of biology at Ball State University, received the Hibbs Award, recognizing his accomplishments in educating Hoosiers on conservation issues and practices.

As a mycologist (fungus expert) and enthusiastic educator, Don has generously given his expertise to help East Central Indiana residents better understand habitats that provide forage and shelter for wildlife. Professionally, he has led the Indiana Academy of Science, the Mycological Society of America, and the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society

Don's most extensive contributions have been in inventorying the vascular flora and vegetational communities of Indiana. He has documented the relative abundance and distribution of plants in varied Indiana nature preserves and public spaces, generating data that inform property management decisions and, in turn, support wildlife habitat.

Phyllis Yuhas Wildlife Habitat Preservation Award: Jeff Ray

Jeff RayThe Yuhas Award was presented to Jeff Ray for his tireless work in developing and preserving native habitat. Whether battling bush honeysuckle and autumn olive with chain saw in hand, wielding a shovel or backhoe to plant large trees, lobbying in a county council meeting, or writings a grant to create a new trail, he has been a consistent conservation leader in East Central Indiana.

Jeff has been instrumental in the tree replanting program in Henry County, orchestrating the planting and watering of about 100 trees in county parks.  As trail coordinator for Healthy Communities of Henry County, he has helped plan, fund, construct, and manage the Wilbur Wright Trail.  In other ECI counties, too, Jeff has played a key role in habitat restoration projects focused on replacing invasive plant species with native species, creating diverse habitats for both wildlife and people.

Richard Greene Public Service Award:  Scott Andersen

Scott AndersenScott Andersen was given the Greene Award for his service to people, birds, and other wild and domestic animals of Pendleton and surrounding communities.  As long-time owner of Seedy Sally’s, Scott specializes in products that serve the needs of wild birds and the people who love watching and feeding them.

Scott has supported the Robert Cooper Audubon Society with goods and services for many years, including supplies of birdseed for past fundraising efforts.  More recently, he has worked with the Anderson Animal Shelter by delivering dog food to Pendleton prisons, where some prisoners participate in the FIDO (Faith plus Inmates plus Dogs equals Opportunities) Program.

Whether supporting wildlife rehabilitators, teaching Boy Scouts how to build and mount bluebird houses, or helping Master Gardeners, Scott has served East Central Indiana for the past quarter-century.  


Award categories

Each fall our chapter honors individuals and organizations that have made noteworthy contributions to the environment in our region over the past year 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


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.