NEW YORK – The National Audubon Society hosted its annual Winter Gala last night at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The nonprofit honored two exceptional conservationists: Paul Tudor Jones recipient of the prestigious Audubon Medal for his work to preserve the world’s iconic landscapes such as the Everglades, the Western Serengeti and the African Great Lakes. Former U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey, Jr., who shepherded landmark environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, received the prestigious Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership.
Audubon President & CEO David Yarnold emceed the evening, discussing Audubon’s vision and focus for the future, “Audubon, in 2016, is going to continue to work on climate change. We’re going to work on water throughout the U.S. We are going to continue to appeal to the four million people who recognize Audubon as being authentic and local everywhere.” After his inspiring remarks, a video was shown highlighting the on the ground advocacy and local work Audubon does to protect bird species, including shorebirds.
Following dinner, Senator Jim Webb introduced the evening’s first honoree: Pete McCloskey, Jr. McCloskey accepted the Lufkin Prize to a roaring applause from the audience after a special video played recognizing his work. Reflecting on his career, and acknowledging other stewards of environmentalism, he shared, “What you don’t know is that the environmental movement, until 1970, there weren’t environmentalists in the Congress, there were a few. But Earth Day came, and a bunch of kids decided to take out 12 members of Congress—they called the dirty dozen. These kids got Dan Lufkin to help them, long before he was what he is today. And they turned out seven members of the house—the dirty dozen—two democrats, five republicans. When Congress reconvenes in 1971, what do you find? The Endangered Species Act, clean air, clean water, marine mammals, coastal zone, estuarine protection—so I think we ought to be honoring Dan Lufkin.”
The Lufkin Prize was established by Dan W. Lufkin’s family in honor of his love and dedication to supporting conservation and environmental causes. The prize is meant to honor individuals who have dedicated their lives to on-the-ground conservation.
Soon after, Nathaniel Reed introduced the night’s second honoree: Paul Tudor Jones. David Yarnold and David Ford, Chairman of the National Audubon Society, presented Paul Tudor Jones with the Audubon Medal for his dedication to the environment and efforts to combine conservation with economic sustainability. The Audubon Medal is one of the highest honors in conservation, awarded to only 54 past recipients, including Rachel Carson, Robert Redford, Ted Turner, and the Rockefeller family.
On stage, Jones discussed the many environmental pioneers who have inspired him, “The one incredible force in my life from 1990 onward was Donal O’Brien, former Audubon Medal Awardee. Donal was the most passionate and persistent person when it came to environment. He would call me all the time and within ten minutes I was either sad in tears, or I’d be shaking my fist with righteous rage because something had altered nature’s compass.” He continued on expressing the urgent need to take action, “I just read something where we, mankind, are extinguishing our brother-sister species at a rate 1,000 times the background natural rate. Can you imagine that? That’s where we are right now. Many scientists say that we are at the spearpoint of the sixth great mass extinction that will have occurred on planet earth in its four-and-a-half billion-year history.”
The evening welcomed 370 guests and raised over $1 million to support the National Audubon Society’s conservation work.
Guests included: David Yarnold, Paul Tudor Jones and Sonia Jones, Pete and Helen McCloskey, Jim and Hong Webb, Nathaniel Reed, Jane Alexander, Alexis Maybank, Dan Lufkin, David B. Ford, Allison Rockefeller, Lili Taylor, Lucy Walters, Peggy Shepard, Spencer Beebe, Patrick Noonan, Karenna Gore, and more.
Photos are available upon request.
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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