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Our Native American ancestors believed diamondback terrapins were sacred animals.

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2006 Honorees

In 2006, Hannah Bonsey Suthers and Professor Joanna Burger were awarded for their work, the advances they have made for women in their professions and the contributions they have made to New Jersey’s wildlife. Awards are made for Leadership and Inspiration. Both received the first ever Women & Wildlife Award.

Hannah Bonsey Suthers

Inspiration Award
Image of 2006 Inspiration award recipient Hannah Suthers.Zoom+ 2006 Inspiration award recipient Hannah Suthers. Image courtesy of Hannah Suthers

Hannah Suthers is a dedicated volunteer who has committed 28 years to studying bird populations and the habitats that support them. In 1978, she founded a Bird Banding and Research Station on the Sourland Ridge in central New Jersey in fields undergoing succession from farmland to natural state. Since that time, she has been banding birds and recording information on their physical conditions and surveying the natural resources of the Sourlands region. While her main focus has been birds and bird populations, Hannah has also documented the herptiles, plants, mammals and insects on her site.

Hannah's work has contributed to the Monitoring Avian Productivity Project, the Sourlands Natural Resources Inventory, the NJ Breeding Bird Atlas, the Atlantic Flyway Project and the Herp Atlas Project.

Hannah also founded the Princeton Skinners, a project to prepare salvaged birds into scientific skins for the Princeton University Biology Museum. She has mentored many students pursuing advanced degrees. She has supervised aspiring bird banders and is certified to train, examine and field-certify these banders. She has inspired a large body of volunteers. Hannah's field station has recently been approved as a New Jersey Important Bird Area.

Hannah has carried out these remarkable activities while working full-time in an unrelated field. Now, in her retirement, she continues to carry out her studies and gather valuable data that plays an important role in wildlife and habitat conservation in the state.

Joanna Burger

Leadership Award

Joanna Burger has been a Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University for 25 years. For 14 of these years, she was Director of the Graduate School in Ecology and Evolution.

The main focus of Joanna's research has been to understand how animals can prosper in habitats affected or dominated by people, and their interactions with other animals. She has carried out research in many countries - Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and Zaire - and on many species such as grebes, gulls, iguanas, chickens, egrets, impala and baboons.

Image of Joanna Burger holds a Great egret. She has studied population dynamics, reproductive success and contaminants in colonial birds for the past 30 years.Zoom+ Joanna Burger holds a Great egret. She has studied population dynamics, reproductive success and contaminants in colonial birds for the past 30 years. Image courtesy of Joanna Burger

For many years, Joanna and her husband Michael Gochfeld have investigated the effect of low levels of lead on behavioral development in gulls using a global feather-based bio-monitoring plan that they developed. They have demonstrated that certain levels of lead that occur in the wild are sufficient to cause behavioral effects in gulls.

She has worked in Barnegat Bay for 30 years on population dynamics, reproductive success and contaminants in colonial birds. She has also studied the population dynamics and behavior of pine snakes and black racers in the Pine Barrens as well as behavior of shorebirds; colony dynamics of urban box turtles; and contaminants in estuarine and ocean fish.

Joanna has published over 350 scientific papers, numerous book chapters and edited or written 17 books. She has consulted with muncipalities, corporations, conservation groups, state and federal governments and private citizens. She also serves on many national and international committees and is a member of the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Council - a body that provides oversight and insight to the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in New Jersey.

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