The National Audubon Society (@audubonsociety) celebrated the legacy of female leadership in conservation by presenting two lifelong conservation champions with Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award yesterday at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The prestigious award, launched in 2004, recognizes visionary women whose dedication, talent and energy have advanced environmental and conservation positive change locally and on a global scale.
The event was a tribute to the heroic women of America’s past and present. “Women helped start Audubon a hundred years ago and have played a leading role in conservation ever since. That’s what we’re celebrating today – women like Marian Heiskell and Lady Bird Johnson who have truly made a difference.” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “And we hope that by honoring their example, we’ll inspire the next generation of women and girls to aim high. Women understand that we all need clean air, clean water and healthy natural spaces, and they're willing to do something about it.”
Marian S. Heiskell was presented with the Rachel Carson Award for her numerous accomplishments as a lifelong conservationist and leader in numerous public and philanthropic activities focused on making the neighborhoods of New York City green. A former newspaper executive, Heiskell is recognized in New York City as a Living Landmark.
Lady Bird Johnson, a lifelong protector of nature, led the way for the passage of 1964’s Highway Beautification Act and later, at the age of 70, created the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Her Special Memorial Tribute Award was accepted by her daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb.
As Robb approached the stage to accept the award on behalf of her mother, guests her table waved miniature Texas flags, in honor of the late First Lady’s home state. Robb thanked the Rachel Carson Awards Council for “recognizing my mother’s dedication to the environment and for carrying on her legacy, by teaching people to care.”
As guests dined on an organic vegetarian lunch – a beet nicoise salad and a delicious handmade pappardelle with wild mushroom ragout – sourced within 150 miles of New York City, guest speaker and official historian of CBS News Douglas Brinkley spoke on the historical legacy of American women in conservation. “When public health became an issue, it was women who moved the environmental movement to the forefront in the 1960s,” he said.
Anne Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent for NBC News, hosted the event. A number of past honorees attended to be honored for their continued conservation work. Returning honorees included U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, Interfaith Power & Light President and Founder The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, author and producer Laurie David and Tiffany & Co. Board Chair Fernanda Kellogg.
This year’s honorees received an 18-karat gold medal with a cameo likeness of Rachel Carson, custom-designed for and gifted to the event by Tiffany & Co. Past honorees gathered on stage to receive a silver version of the medal.
Allison Rockefeller, the founding chair of the Rachel Carson Awards Council, ended the ceremony with a nod to the award’s namesake saying, “Like Rachel Carson, we too hope to hear the songbirds in the spring.”
Guests included the following:Marian S. Heiskell, Lynda Johnson Robb, Anne Thompson, Douglas Brinkley, David Yarnold, Jane Alexander, Alexis Maybank, Allison Rockefeller, Beth Stevens, Fernanda Kellogg, Sally Jewell, Janette Sadik-Khan, Liz Titus Putnam, Frances Beinecke, Laurie David, Margie Ruddick, Bernadette Castro, Margaret Wittenberg, Maria Rodale, Peggy Shepard, David Rockefeller Sr., Eric Javits, Carlos Falchi, Lois Chiles, Maria Cuomo Cole and Gloria Rueben.
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Audubon’s Women in Conservation exists to recognize outstanding women leaders in today's conservation movement, to support environmental opportunities for girls and young women, and to educate women on important issues related to conservation and the environment: www.womeninconservation.org.