Celebrating Conservation Leaders

Dec. 14 | 7 p.m. | BSU Alumni Center & Zoom

Protecting, conserving, and educating others about the natural spaces where wildlife thrives is the mission of Robert Cooper Audubon Society. Please join us at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 14, at Ball State University’s Alumni Center (2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie) to celebrate individuals who lead these efforts in East Central Indiana.  Light hors d’oeuvres will be followed by presentations from the awardees.

Or, if you’d rather join us via Zoom, be sure to register in advance. Either way, come and be inspired by the following awardees!

For her decades of leadership in environmental conservation, we honor Helen Steussy. M.D., with the Robert H. and Esther L. Cooper Conservation Award, our chapter’s highest honor.  A co-founder of the Red-Tail Land Conservancy, Helen is known for FLIGHT…for the land, her 2010 cross-country bicycle ride from Oregon to New Hampshire, to raise awareness and money for land conservation.

More recently, Helen has waged war on invasive plants in New Castle city parks and has been a constant champion for native plants. Since 2019, she has led Henry County Removes Invasive Plant Species (HC-RIPS.) HC-RIPS holds informative monthly meetings, organizes strike teams, and conducts landowner surveys.

Leading a statewide effort to rid our landscape of invasive plant species, Dawn Slack, will be recognized with the Clyde W. Hibbs Conservation Education Award. As project coordinator for the Indiana Invasives Initiative, Dawn has been an inspiring educator and environmental leader in our region. Thanks to Dawn, more than 650 educational presentations have been given throughout the state. In the past four years, the group has visited over 800 landowners and have written management plans for roughly 90% of them. 

The Richard Greene Public Service Award celebrates initiatives that serve the public’s environmental interests. This year we celebrate Krystal Stanich’s leadership in organizing and implementing the Cool Climate Fest, which took place on April 30 at the Arts Park in New Castle. The Cool Climate Fest strove to increase awareness about the threats of climate change and strategies to mitigate and adapt to a warming world. Krystal is the teen and adult services manager at the New Castle-Henry County Library and a member of the New Castle Climate Action Team.

The Phyllis Yuhas Wildlife Habitat Preservation Award will be given to Elizabeth Ploog. With the assistance of Kevin Tungesvick, Elizabeth has been on a quest to transform a 9.75-acre soybean field into a prairie with native grasses and forbs since her retirement in 2021. Elizabeth has been an avid gardener and butterfly watcher for many years. Twelve-year-old Charles Hendrickson will be recognized with theCharles D. Wise Youth Conservation Award. Charlie is an accomplished beekeeper in the Whitewater Valley Beekeepers Association and recently took 2nd place in the 2022 Young Beekeeper competition for the Beekeepers of Indiana. While volunteering at the Indiana Beekeepers Association during the Indiana State Fair, Charlie helped teach visitors about the importance and life cycle of our bee pollinators. He is the son of Mark and Stefanie Hendrickson and a student at Monroe Central.

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