"John taught us to think big," said Wendy Paulson, a driving force in the organization's For the Birds program which connects thousands of New York state school children to nature.
Audubon New York established the Keesee Award in 2001 to honor individuals whose contributions, talent and commitment to the environment have advanced conservation and environmental education. The award's namesake, Thomas W. Keesee, Jr., spent his lifetime committed to the environment; his support of Audubon helped to ensure that future generations can live healthy lives in a sustainable environment, Previous recipients include Adrian Benepe, New York City Parks Commissioner, and Wendy Paulson.
One of Flicker's passions is connecting people with nature, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas. To achieve this goal John Flicker spearheaded the addition of over two dozen Audubon Centers, reaching diverse audiences in urban areas such as Los Angeles and Brooklyn.
Flicker believed Audubon was "ideally suited" to mobilize people, drawing strength from the combined impact of its national and local presence and outreach. His development of an expanding network of state offices, currently in 24 states, allows Audubon to augment and complement the grassroots power of its 491 Chapters nationwide. Flicker also spearheaded broad campaigns marshalling Audubon's public policy, education, and science to address challenges facing critical ecosystems from the Alaskan tundra to the Long Island Sound. Among these is an ambitious long term initiative to return the entire Mississippi River watershed, from the river's headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, to a healthy environment for birds and people.
Under Flicker's leadership, Audubon championed sound environmental public policy, from protection of America's Endangered Species and National Wildlife Refuges, to critical legislation in the fight to restore vital wetlands and curb global warming.
"We care about birds and we care about the quality of the future they will share with us," Flicker stated; "These birds are sending us a clear message that their fate is determined by human activity more than anything else. When we help them through conservation, their chances improve. When we hurt them by harming their land, air and water, then they are more likely to become extinct."
Significant among Flicker's achievements was the launch of Audubon's Important Bird Areas (IBA) program, which provides a framework for community stewardship of habitats essential to bird populations. With 2,100 IBAs encompassing more than 220 million acres in 48 states now identified, the program is engaging communities coast to coast in environmental stewardship and connecting them to international habitat conservation efforts and partners throughout the western hemisphere. Flicker is also credited with enhancing Audubon's historic position as the leading voice and resource for bird conservation issues through the establishment of Audubon's periodic State of the Birds reports.
Historian Doug Brinkley, author of the critically acclaimed The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, spoke at the awards luncheon at the Central Park Boat House, citing Flicker's many achievements. Brinkley noted especially Flickers ongoing work to promote conservation stewardship among young people. "I will continue to follow his story," said Professor Brinkley.
A native of Minnesota, Flicker developed an early affinity for being outdoors, and a strong commitment to conservation. Growing up on a farm, he learned "everything comes from the land. If you take care of it, it takes care of you." Prior to becoming Audubon's President, Flicker spent 21 years with The Nature Conservancy, where, as Florida State Director and then General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, he helped preserve more than one million acres. "He helped launch the single largest acquisition and preservation program ever undertaken in any state," said Carol Browner, former Chair of the Audubon Board, now Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.
John Flicker resides in New York City with his wife, Jane. The Awards luncheon will benefit Audubon New York's statewide programs.
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. www.ny.audubon.org