Audubon Honors Two Conservation Champions November 7

Margot Ernst and Virginia Stowe recognized for environmental leadership Annual luncheon to include memorial tribute to award’s namesake Thomas W. Keesee, Jr

Ernst and Stowe

Margot Ernst and Virginia Stowe

Published: Nov 2, 2012
New York - 
Audubon New York will present Margot Ernst and Virginia K. Stowe with their highest honor at their annual Keesee Conservation Award Luncheon  on November 7.  The benefit luncheon will feature a special memorial tribute to the Keesee Award's namesake, Thomas W. Keesee, Jr, for his legacy of conservation leadership. Scott Weidensaul, Pulitzer Prize-finalist author of Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds will be the keynote.

"We are excited to honor two dedicated and visionary conservationists in Margot Ernst and Virginia Stowe," said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York. "The Thomas W. Keesee, Jr. Conservation Award is given annually to environmental leaders in their respective fields, and these women exemplify conservation excellence and have committed time and resources to connect new and diverse audiences to nature."

Margot Ernst has played an instrumental role in building Audubon New York into one of National Audubon Society's strongest state programs. She has devoted her tenure on Audubon New York's Board of Directors to expanding Audubon's base of support, facilitating new partnerships with non-traditional partners and encouraging women to be more involved in conservation.  Through her love of the Adirondacks, where she operates the Elk Lake Lodge with husband John, Margot developed a great concern for forest birds like her beloved Bicknell's Thrush which she studies each year during the breeding season. She inspired new initiatives to protect habitat in their breeding and wintering grounds.  Margot also serves on the National Audubon Board of Directors, and leads several leadership committees. 

Virginia (Gini) K. Stowe has utilized her passion for children, education and birds to create one of the most innovative environmental education programs in New York State.   She is a founding teacher of Audubon New York's For the Birds! Program which connects underserved youth in New York City public schools to nature.  Through her efforts, this program has grown to reach schools throughout the state. This volunteer work is a natural outgrowth of Stowe's professional life as a parent educator, family counselor, author, and founder and director of the not-for-profit Parenting Development Resource, Inc.  Her passion for bird conservation contributed to the growth of Audubon New York, where she is currently the vice chairand continues to be a strong advocate and supporter for Audubon's Forestry and International Alliances Programs

"These extraordinary women are the wind beneath our wings," said David Yarnold, Audubon president and CEO.  "Both Margot Ernst and Gini Stowe exemplify the power of Audubon to make conservation stewardship a bold and bright part of everyone's future."

One of the National Audubon Society's highest awards, the Thomas W. Keesee, Jr. Conservation Award is presented annually by Audubon New York, the state program of the National Audubon Society. The Award is presented to individuals who have shown remarkable leadership and commitment, particularly in New York State, to Audubon's mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.   Thomas W. Keesee, Jr. was a long-time member of the National Audubon Society's Board of Directors and also its Chairman from 1979 to 1983. Keesee was a strong advocate for Audubon's efforts to grow state based programs, serving as a founding member of Audubon New York's Stewardship Committee which eventually became its Board of Directors. Likewise, he was a proponent of Audubon's grassroots legacy, serving as Vice President of his local chapter, the Bedford Audubon Society.

The Keesee Award was first presented in 2001 to another former Audubon Chairman, Donal C. O'Brien. Since then, it has been presented to: John Bierwirth (2002), Samuel F. Pryor, III (2003), Marian S. Heiskell (2004), Wendy Paulson (2006), New York State and City Parks Commissioners Carol Ash and Adrian Benepe (2007), George E. Pataki and Peter Berle-In Memoriam (2008), Audubon New York's Founding Chairman Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff (2009), John Flicker (2010) and most recently Carol Browner and Toyota (2011).

The Awards luncheon, held at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, and will support Audubon New York's efforts to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitats through education and advocacy, based on sound science. For ticket and table information, please contact Events Manager Jennifer Zaso at (212) 979-3039 or jzaso@audubon.org

Audubon New York is dedicated to the protection of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through advocacy, science and education, serving as the state program of the National Audubon Society. http://ny.audubon.org

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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