At our Women & Wildlife Awards Reception on December 4, 2013, Tracy Leaver, Linda J. Mead, Jo Ann Frier-Murza, Pat Sutton, and Edith Wallace 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. The special celebration also commemorated the 40th Anniversary of New Jersey’s Endangered Species and Conservation Act. Awards were made for Leadership, Inspiration, and Education, as well as two new awards for Legacy and Service.
As founder and Executive Director of Woodlands Wildlife Refuge, Tracy Leaver is aNew Jersey permitted wildlife rehabilitator that has been dedicated to caring for and releasing orphaned and injured wildlife and to educating the public aboutNew Jersey’s wildlife since 1986.
Woodlands Wildlife Refuge began with just 2 animals and now cares for 900 native mammals and reptiles each year including black bear, bobcat, and most recently the timber rattlesnake. In 1997,Tracy received Woodlands’ first injured bobcat and has since cared for more than 20 bobcats ranging in ages from 2 months to adult. As an endangered species, bobcats present special challenges for a rehabilitator – yet as such a charismatic but elusive animal in the wild, the bobcat’s recovery can be especially inspirational.
Two years earlier, Tracy created and implemented the first black bear rehabilitation program inNew Jersey. Working closely with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Black Bear Team, Tracy has cared for over 80 orphaned and injured bears and has successfully released more than 70 bears. This program and collaborative research effort has gained national and international interest due to its documented long term success by researcher Dr. John Beecham.
Tracy currently serves as Board President for the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators, an association she was instrumental in forming in 1990 and serves on the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Advisory Committee. She is a former Board Member and Chair of the Standards Committee of the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association.Tracy was recognized in the publication, “Notable Women Throughout the History of Hunterdon County,” by the Hunterdon County Cultural and Heritage Commission.
LINDA J. MEAD
As the President and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust, Linda Mead has a distinguished record in permanently preserving over 15,000 acres of natural habitats, farms, and open space for wildlife inNew Jersey since 1997.
Linda was a significant force in the protection of the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. These 3,000 acres of tidal and non-tidal marshes, forested swamps, and upland forests located in a highly urbanized landscape provide diverse habitats for many species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, butterflies, and amphibians. A number of endangered or threatened species are found here, including bald eagle, osprey, northern harrier, and American kestrel.
Linda was also instrumental inestablishing the 1,000-acre D&R Greenway Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve. Recognizing the unique value of theSourlandMountains, the largest intact forest area inCentral New Jersey, she worked to protect this critical habitat forthe over 70 species of neotropical birds who raise their young there. The Sourland also contains vernal pools that are important incubators of salamanders, frogs and toads.
Under Linda’s leadership, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recognized D&R Greenway with their 2004 Environmental Excellence Award for Open Space Protection and Preservation. Linda was previously awarded the prestigious International Paper Conservation Partnership Award from The Conservation Fund for achieving protection of over $25 million of land in 2001 through private fundraising and public partnerships, securing these lands for the public’s benefit. She is a founder of the Delaware River Sojourn and the Delaware River Greenway Partnership, and has served on the boards of Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve and the Bucks County Open Space Fund. She is a member of the Easement Advisory Committee for the New Jersey Historic Trust.
JO ANN FRIER-MURZA
Jo Ann Frier-Murza played an important role in protecting our most charismatic wildlife as part of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
When the Division’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program was created following the passage of the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act of 1973, Jo Ann served as its first Chief. Her hard work and commitment paved the way for other female biologists to take critical roles in the field of wildlife biology inNew Jersey.
At the time, raptor populations had been decimated in the Eastern United Statesdue to the widespread application of the chemical DDT. The New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program played a key role in advancing those early efforts to the recover populations of peregrine falcons, ospreys, and bald eagles.
After her tenure with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Jo Ann’s commitment to animals took her in a different direction than endangered wildlife. She went on to make an outstanding contribution to the sport of purebred dogs on the national and local level, receiving the American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. Her book, Earthdog Ins & Outs, and her facility,VillageGreenFarmEarthdogCenter, offer information and training or all levels of dogs.
Patricia Sutton has studied, protected, and educated about the natural world inNew Jerseyfor over 30 years. Her many talents have promoted wildlife in many ways: as a writer, photographer, naturalist, educator, lecturer, tour leader, and wildlife garden consultant. Pat has especially helped celebrate the natural wonders ofCape May, our state’s globally recognized wildlife destination.
Pat played a key role in the establishment of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, by successfully advocating that The Great Cedar Swamp be included in the refuge. Currently, around 6,500 acres of the swamp have been protected in the refuge. Early in her career, she completed the Master Plan for The Nature Conservancy’s Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge and served as an interpretive naturalist at Cape May Point State Park. For twenty-one years she was the program director at New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, and she continues to teach gardening for wildlife programs around the state and country: patandclaysutton.com.
Along with her husband Clay Sutton, Pat has written a number of books designed to engage people with wildlife, including the landmark Birds and Birding atCape May, How to Spot an Owl, and How to Spot Hawks & Eagles. She has also written over 60 magazine articles about butterflies, owls, hawks, plant and animal interactions, andCape Maywildlife.
One of the greatest accomplishments Pat has made in her career has been her role educating people about creating backyard wildlife habitats, especially in educating homeowners on how to create wildlife habitat to benefit the birds, butterflies, and other creatures that breed in and migrate through Cape MayCounty. She has led tours of private wildlife gardens for 22 years. Pat is an Honorary Director of Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes and a Team Member of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.
For more than half a century, Dr. Edith Wallace has devoted her life to inspiring people, young and old, to make the wild places of New Jersey part of their everyday experiences. Her belief that everyone deserves to learn about the natural world, in combination with her ability to share her immense knowledge with the public, has changed so many lives for the better.
Edith’s Women & Wildlife Award nomination was supported by an unprecedented 125 colleagues, students and friends whose strong connection to the environment was forged by her dedication.
Dr. Edith Wallace earned a Ph.D. in zoology at Rutgers University. She is the former chair of the Biology Department at William Paterson University and has earned certificates in field botany, plant classification, and ornamental horticulture from the New York Botanical Garden. Edith received the Bergen County Audubon Society’s Harold Feinberg Conservation Award in 2011.
Edith’s nature walks and presentations have helped northern New Jerseyans to better understand the importance of native plants to wildlife and their function in maintaining biodiversity in our environment. She has played an instrumental role in the Meadowlands Butterfly Festival and other nature events. Edith has written numerous fact sheets for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and she co-authored theNew JerseyBotanical Garden’s Conifers in the Botanical Garden and Identifying Woody Plants of the Celery Farm.
Edith has been a Master Gardener for 15 years, contributing over 4,000 volunteer hours. She was recognized by Rutgers Cooperative Extension in 2012 for her outstanding contributions to the Rutgers Master Gardener program and exemplary service to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. In 2011, the Master Gardener Association of Passaic County established the “Dr. Edith Wallace Scholarship” for high school students planning to study horticulture in college.
Explore our online field guide that depicts over 200 species of rare wildlife in New Jersey and learn about how we are working to protect them.