On Thursday, October 23, 2014, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey held our Ninth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards Reception to honor the contributions that four women – Cathy Hughes Malok, Brooke Maslo, Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, and Meghan Wren - have made to wildlife in New Jersey. We were excited to recognize the leadership and inspiration they provide for those working to protect wildlife in New Jersey.
CATHY HUGHES MALOK
Over the last 27 years, Cathy Malok has made innumerable contributions to wildlife rehabilitation in New Jersey. She has played a role in the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of birds native to the state, shared her knowledge and experience with others, and inspired countless young women to follow a path similar to her own.
Cathy is currently the Vice President of the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators (NJAWR) and also serves on its Board of Directors. NJAWR, a recognized non-profit organization since 1991, has become an invaluable resource for information and educational opportunities for wildlife rehabilitators throughout the state. Notably, Cathy developed a wildlife rehabilitation Apprentice Training Manual for her colleagues to use when mentoring and sponsoring a new rehabilitator.
Cathy passionately serves as the Infirmary Manager of The Raptor Trust, one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the country, which treats nearly 3,000 injured birds with state-of-the-art medical facilities each year. A national leader in the fields of raptor conservation and avian rehabilitation, The Raptor Trust treats a wide array of birds including hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls. At The Trust, Cathy manages the clinic, trains dozens of volunteers and college interns (many of them young women) to care for these birds each year, and counsels individuals who call or come to the clinic with birds they have found.
Through her rehabilitation efforts at The Raptor Trust and NJAWR, and sharing many first “wildlife encounter” moments with New Jersey residents, Cathy has not only made outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation, but has also educated and inspired others to become involved. She is truly an inspirational leader, giving assistance and advice to local wildlife professionals daily with enthusiasm, compassion and skill.
As a Rutgers University professor of such courses as “Animal Behavior” and “Wildlife Ecology and Conservation,” Dr. Brooke Maslo has impacted the lives of many students by demonstrating the value of wildlife conservation. Through her scientific research, she has also uncovered valuable findings that have positively impacted conservation efforts in New Jersey.
In her course Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Brooke creates a first-hand experience in conservation for each of her students by assigning them to work with a wildlife professional to create and execute a management plan for a species of their choice. Brooke’s dedication and creativity in her course have led to strong relationships between Rutgers’ Wildlife Conservation and Management Program and conservation foundations and organizations across New Jersey, where many students seek careers.
Through earning her doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University in 2010, Brooke researched evidence-based recommendations for Piping Plover conservation and habitat restoration. She continues to build on this knowledge through her current United States Fish and Wildlife Service-funded research on beach-nesting bird habitat, which focuses on the challenges of both protecting breeding habitats to conserve threatened wildlife and protecting coastal infrastructure for severe storm resiliency.
Brooke’s most recent research project aims to investigate the role of bats in the control of invasive agricultural insects, encourage New Jersey agriculturalists to provide suitable habitats for the species, and educate New Jersey residents about bats. Brooke’s research has led to partnerships with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program and the national White Nose Syndrome working group.
These two projects are not only important to New Jersey conservation efforts, but are also vital on a national level and, as a result, have attracted national attention.
As an iconic protector of the Delaware Bay for over 26 years, Meghan Wren has devoted her life to restoring the region through hard work, dedication and leading by example.
At 23 years old, Meghan led a restoration effort for the 1928 oyster schooner A.J. Meerwald. Through a variety of volunteer and community-based fundraising activities, along with major grant support, A.J. Meerwald was brilliantly restored and is now New Jersey’s official Tall Ship, serving as a sailing classroom.
Meghan founded Bayshore Center at Bivalve in 1988 to motivate people to take care of the history, culture and environment of the Bayshore region. More than 20 years later, Meghan has continued to transform Bivalve through the restoration of shipping sheds and wharfs and the opening of the Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center. The Museum offers exhibits, programming, a storytelling series, special events and an art gallery.
The Bayshore team, under Meghan’s leadership, continues to promote wildlife conservation in the Delaware Bay region, most recently through oyster and horseshoe crab conservation. After Hurricane Sandy devastated the Delaware Bay area in 2012, Meghan led the team completing a Bay-wide evaluation to be used in developing a restoration plan for the Bay. In August 2013, Meghan successfully completed the 13.1-mile swim across the Delaware Bay in an effort to attract attention to the area that she has dedicated her life to restoring and preserving.
As the Founding Director of the Bayshore Center, Meghan, a visionary leader, has impacted thousands who come to learn about the history and culture of the Delaware Bay area. Meghan continues to devote her life to the link between wildlife, wild lands and the people living in the Delaware Bay area.
For thirty years, Jeanne McArthur-Heuser has dedicated herself to protecting Sandy Hook’s natural resources and the species that call the area home.
When Jeanne began her career at Gateway National Recreation Area three decades ago, Sandy Hook was home to only 18 pairs of breeding Piping Plovers. By 2012, there was a record high of 50 pairs, which is currently the largest population of breeding Piping Plovers in New Jersey. Jeanne’s conservation efforts on Sandy Hook have benefitted the entire ecosystem, causing increases in the populations of Osprey, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers in the most densely populated state in the country.
Jeanne has been able to create an environment that is both a suitable nesting area for beach-nesting birds and a getaway destination for over one million visitors annually. Jeanne has worked tirelessly to overcome seasonal threats to the birds such as hurricanes and nor’easters, and overpopulated wild predators like red fox, raccoons and crows. She also works to protect the areas that the birds nest in, including the federally endangered Sea Beach Amaranth. Sandy Hook, as one of the few natural barrier islands along the Jersey Shore, is one of the last beaches in the state that is home to this plant.
Jeanne is a mentor to aspiring conservationists. She advises students on their senior research projects involving natural resource management, coastal ecology, invasive species, and at-risk wildlife at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology based on Sandy Hook.
Through her conservation efforts on Sandy Hook and her work as a mentor to many young students, Jeanne has had an immense impact on this diverse and vital area.
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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.