Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘women & wildlife awards’

Women & Wildlife 2019 Inspiration Award Honoree Gretchen Fowles

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Gretchen and Fly, the ENSP sniffer dog who helps track rare wildlife.

Join us to honor Gretchen and the four other 2019 Women & Wildlife Award Honorees on Wednesday, November 13th at 6 PM. Purchase events tickets and find more information.

Gretchen has been a biologist/GIS Specialist with NJ’s Endangered & Nongame Species Program (ENSP) for the past 15 years. She grew up in western Massachusetts, received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota, and spent her summers while in college as a wilderness ranger in Wyoming and assisting with black bear research in North Carolina. After living in Oregon and Vermont for a few years, working as a vet tech and volunteering for conservation organizations among other things, she then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Idaho State University studying bighorn sheep.

Within ENSP, her roles have included serving as administrator of Biotics, the state’s rare species database, developing GIS species distribution modeling, leading Allegheny woodrat and bobcat research, spearheading the CHANJ project, and serving as detection dog handler previously to Bear, and now to the program’s new canine sniffer, Fly.

We asked Gretchen a few questions about what inspires her to dedicate her career to New Jersey’s conservation:

Q: What has been a highlight of your career?

A: Developing the Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) project, which was released this past spring. It has been incredibly rewarding to work on a project from the conception of the idea several years ago all the way to its completion (at least the first version of it), and now working on the challenge of implementing solutions on the ground. It feels good to believe in the project today as much, if not more, than I did on day one. I have the tremendous privilege of getting to work with smart, dedicated, and talented co-leads, Brian Zarate and MacKenzie Hall, as well as many government, NGO, and academic partners and citizen scientists across the state all of whom are passionate about this issue of reconnecting our landscape.

 Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?

A: The support and freedom within my program to try different approaches to create solutions; the smart and passionate people I work with every day and continually meet, and of course all (well most . . .) of what comes with being a wildlife biologist even if it often means dealing with poop and dead things!  I think my 15 year old self would approve.

Q: Do you have a New Jersey wildlife species that you like best? 

No, they’re all so cool in their own way.  I do wish I could rename woodrats.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to change the world for wildlife?

I’m trying to figure this out myself!  What I do know is that there’s a whole lot to be said for persistence and hard work, continuous learning, and seeking out the creative thinkers and doers with whom to partner and share ideas.  Also, focusing efforts on creating and maintaining a well-connected landscape has been increasingly identified as a key strategy for protecting biodiversity and enabling wildlife to adapt to climate change.

Q: What do you find most challenging about your profession?

Remaining optimistic when there are so many negative forces to contend with, but it’s absolutely essential to remain optimistic. 

Q: What are your favorite things to do when you aren’t working?

Adventuring with my family, gardening, tossing a frisbee.

Women & Wildlife 2019 Education Award Honoree Giselle Chazotte Smisko

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

A life-long interest in nature led Giselle Chazotte Smisko to pursue a B.S. in biology at Bucknell University with a focus on ecology and botany.  Upon graduating in 1979 she started working as a part-time naturalist for the Morris County Park Commission and realized she needed to learn more about fauna the public would want to see on the walks.  That brought her to Len and Diane Soucy who were rehabilitating wild birds. 


Women & Wildlife 2019 Legacy Award Honoree Wilma Frey

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Wilma Frey with her well-worn copy of the Highlands Regional Master Plan, completed in 2006. Photo by: Sandy Perry.

Wilma Frey is the Senior Policy Manager at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. She has more than five decades of environmental and planning advocacy experience and masters’ degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, fifteen years apart. Wilma has fought to stop oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, battled the PennEast Pipeline here in New Jersey, enjoys dancing and has learned the secret to giving frogs and toads head scratches.



Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Hazel England, 2017 Education Award Honoree

As Director of Education & Outreach for Great Swamp Watershed Association, 2017 Women & Wildlife Education Award Honoree Hazel England has spent 24 years as an enthusiastic environmental educator and naturalist in New Jersey, bringing education programs to students and teachers of all ages about our local ecosystems and habitats. Her work focuses on providing powerful learning experiences for educators, encouraging youths to explore and understand New Jersey’s incredible biodiversity, and partnering with agencies to open up more environmental opportunities for students of all ages.

Since 2004, Ms. England has dedicated herself to developing, coordinating, and implementing a wide variety of educational and stewardship programs and activities at the Great Swamp Watershed Association as the Director of Outreach and Education. She currently focuses on creating programs about water quality and conservation, ranging from curriculum development, to watershed-wide issues, to local resident workshops. (more…)

Three New Jersey Women Recognized at Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

Friday, October 30th, 2015
MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, Tanya Oznowich honored at Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s 10th Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.


Our Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held at Duke Farms, recognized three women – MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich – for their leadership in protecting wildlife in New Jersey. The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman served as the keynote speaker.


The Women & Wildlife Awards celebrated Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s past decade of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the Garden State’s endangered and imperiled wildlife species.


“The inspiring leadership of MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich not only benefits New Jersey’s wildlife and the countless people who care strongly for our outdoors – it provides successful role models for the next generation of girls in scientific fields that have for too long held a glass ceiling for young women,” said CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “Their unparalleled dedication and hard work – like that of the Women & Wildlife honorees over the past decade – has helped make New Jersey a national leader in wildlife conservation.”


The three honorees were recognized individually with awards in Inspiration, Leadership, and Education:

MacKenzie Hall, a powerful force behind the conservation of wildlife in New Jersey, who began working as a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation in 2004 before joining the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in 2014, is the recipient of the Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award. She has been involved in a number of projects spanning bat colonies, migrating amphibians, and grassland birds.

In her work to implement conservation programs such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Ms. Hall’s keen understanding of the process and positive attitude turned many farmers and landowners into dedicated environmental stewards. What may be most remarkable about Ms. Hall is her ability to motivate the public and inspire non-scientists of all ages to become passionate conservationists.


Women & Wildlife Leadership Award Winner Pat Hamilton has worked for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries since 1980. She is considered to be the champion for Eastern brook trout, the state’s only native salmonid, and a species once extirpated from over 50% of its historical habitat due to human impacts.

Ms. Hamilton is one of three fisheries biologists in New Jersey endeavoring to strengthen the state regulations to further conserve native brook trout streams. Thanks to her efforts, more than 200 northern New Jersey streams have been designated as Trout Production Streams, which afford the streams higher levels of state protection.


The recipient of the Women & Wildlife Education Award is Tanya Oznowich, Environmental Education Supervisor of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, who has championed environmental education for over three decades.

Schools across New Jersey are incorporating environmental education into their curriculum, a new movement inspired by a growing awareness of environmental issues and our shared role in understanding and resolving them. To a large degree, this growing prominence is thanks to Tanya Oznowich. She has been engaging the public in natural resources since 1979. Since beginning her tenure with the NJDEP in 1988, she has dedicated herself to integrating environmental science into New Jersey’s classrooms, from kindergarten to college.


The Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held on Wednesday, October 28 at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, included a presentation of the awards to the recipients, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and a silent auction.


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We gratefully thank our generous Eagle Sponsors who made the Women & Wildlife Awards possible: PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, Janice King and Bill Masonheimer, and Eric Sambol.



Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.