The 13th Annual Women & Wildlife Awards and Silent Auction was held on November 7, 2018 at Duke Farms to honor four remarkable women for their valuable contributions to protecting New Jersey’s wildlife with keynote speaker NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.
Our Women & Wildlife Awards recognize outstanding women for their achievements in protecting New Jersey's endangered and threatened wildlife in four categories - Leadership, Inspiration, and Education and Service.
The event, featuring keynote speaker NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe, continues CWF’s thirteen-year tradition of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the State’s endangered and nongame wildlife species. These honorees helped to make New Jersey a leader in bringing key species back from the brink of extinction – species such as the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and osprey.
Proceeds benefit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s efforts to protect rare and imperiled wildlife.
BETH STYLER BARRY
Beth Styler Barry has selflessly devoted her professional career to keeping our waterways clean and habitable for wildlife. Beth has worked as a volunteer, member and Executive Director for the Musconetcong Watershed Association for over 15 years.
Through all of this work, Beth guided a small organization to become a beacon for watershed associations and the poster child for small environmental nonprofits. She currently works at the Nature Conservancy as a River Restoration Manager. One of her key accomplishments has been the successful removal of five dams on the Musconetcong River. The removal of these dams opened the waterway to anadromous fish and improved the water quality for all forms of aquatic life. She currently oversees the Columbia Dam project on the Paulins Kill, which will be the largest dam removal in New Jersey to date.
Beth continues to work with colleagues to forge relationships, raise funds, garner community support, obtain required permitting, break down barriers, and engage with state, county and municipal officials to ensure the projects are successful. She combines her professional skills and her passion in her work, seeking to lead by example. She does not shy away from a challenge and provides teaching moments at every opportunity. Beth is steadfast in her mission to protect and improve our water and land.
Through her career, Beth has continuously led the way for other women to succeed in challenging, multi- dimensional roles. Beth received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers and then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Montclair State University. Her work has touched too many people to count. Those families who enjoy safer natural recreation, the thousands of school students who have learned about river wildlife and ecology, the diverse conservation partners, the restoration and monitoring volunteers – all have greatly learned and benefitted from Beth’s knowledge, experience, and passion.
Sharon Petzinger has served as a dedicated champion for stabilizing the Golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), an endangered species which has declined as steeply as nearly any songbird species in America. Sharon works tirelessly, visiting key sites, spending countless early spring mornings completing bird surveys, and promoting the program to the public. Sharon has helped to create contracts with 30 landowners to help stop the decline of this bird and has helped to establish over 350 acres of actual habitat specifically created to promote this species.
Sharon works as a senior zoologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and also works collaboratively with the United States Department of Agriculture. She consistently goes above and beyond in her responsibilities to generate the greatest conservation impacts. Sharon enthusiastically spends her free time participating in meetings and workshops to help disseminate and apply the latest songbird conservation strategies in New Jersey.
Sharon truly grounds herself in the science and works to apply lessons from new research in bird conservation and habitat requirements. Even when new findings arise that may conflict with old understandings, Sharon continually allows the science to guide her opinions and actions. She embraces the new research personally, but also shows courage in defending the scientific approach. While her primary focus is on New Jersey habitat, Sharon has also championed the efforts to consider the protection of wintering habitat in Central America by supporting organic shade-grown coffee plantations.
Sharon consistently represents the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Environmental Protection with a high degree of professionalism.
For over 30 years, Pat Heaney has served as both a steward of the environment and an educator about New Jersey’s wildlife. She has spent her career teaching about nature to diverse audiences in an engaging way, while also effectively leading organizations in promoting environmental education. She has worked with thousands of students over the years – thrilling kids by helping them catch and hold a frog so they could really feel the magic of nature.
Pat received a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey and then went on to earn a Master’s in Geography from Rutgers University. Pat worked as an Environmental Specialist conducting wetlands investigations and presented expert testimony before municipal planning and zoning boards. She then spent two years as a Recreational Leader in the Monmouth County Park System, where she worked to provide nature opportunities to low-income residents.
Pat spent over 25 years at Kateri Environmental Center and Day Camp in Wickatunk, New Jersey. She engaged over 4,000 students per year, many of whom were at-risk youth or students with special needs. Among her many impactful programs was Project ECO. Pat was in charge of all aspects of this summer-extended school-year program for special education students. She was able to make the students feel comfortable outside, something these students had rarely enjoyed. Pat ran a variety of special events from vegetarian cooking classes to Women’s Outdoor Survival Weekends.
Pat has been a Girl Scout Volunteer for over 25 years. She spends time with both the girls and the adult leaders, presenting outdoor camping skills training, natural history workshops, and her favorite: campfire sing-alongs. Hundreds of girls in Monmouth and Ocean Counties have had outdoor experiences with Pat.
For the past 5 years, Pat has served on the Board of the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE) where she helps to spread the mission of environmental literacy to teachers throughout the state. Currently, Pat serves as the Senior Educator at The Watershed Institute in Pennington, New Jersey, where she continues to train naturalists, inspire students, and educate citizens of all ages. Whether it is explaining the complexities of the local watershed, or teaching about the significance of frogs as an environmental barometer, Pat continues to serve as a vital ambassador for wildlife and the natural world.
As one of the founding members of The Raptor Trust in Millington, New Jersey, no important decision has been made without Diane Soucy’s input. Close to 130,000 songbirds, wading birds, waterfowl, hummingbirds, raptors, and other birds have been admitted to The Raptor Trust. From much of the bird rehabilitation, to the administrative matters like bylaws and thank you letters, to the countless personal sacrifices she has made over decades, nearly everything about the Raptor Trust has gone through Diane.
For over 50 years now, Diane has devoted her life to the rehabilitation of wild birds. She has inspired thousands of people who have called or passed through the doors of The Raptor Trust, looking for help with an injured or orphaned wild bird. For years, she and her husband, Len Soucy, were the sole providers of the Raptor Trust, financing all of the aviaries and supplies completely on their own.
Diane has handled more patients and been responsible for more successful bird releases in New Jersey than anyone else at the Raptor Trust. Before there were any standards for wildlife, Diane developed successful songbird diets and recipes, through trial and error, which have been shared, replicated, improved upon, and used for decades throughout the larger wildlife rehabilitation community. Diane has been there every step of the way at The Raptor Trust, working as the default secretary, behind-the-scenes adviser and manager. At a time when the phrase “wildlife rehabilitation” didn’t even exist, Diane and her husband were working to develop techniques which would later become the best practices in the field.
Diane, now 82, remains a contributing member of The Raptor Trust. She still cooks up her secret recipe of fledgling woodpecker food. She still answers the phones and advises hundreds of people each year about the injured wildlife they have found. She is the “institutional memory” and “internal hard drive” of The Raptor Trust. Ultimately, there would be no Raptor Trust without Diane’s willingness to “go along for the ride.” She has truly dedicated nearly her entire life to the mission of The Raptor Trust and the well- being of New Jersey’s wildlife.
Learn more about the mission of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and its team members.
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