Carol Beidleman, Chair, Partners in Flight Awards Committee
Through the Partners in Flight (PIF) Awards, PIF has been recognizing outstanding individuals and groups for their exceptional contributions to the field of landbird conservation since 1996. PIF Awards are given in the categories of Leadership, Investigations, Public Awareness, Stewardship, and the David N. Pashley Lifetime Achievement Award.
We are pleased to announce the seven 2019 PIF Award winners, who were recognized at the seventh North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC VII) on August 14, 2020, during PIF’s 30th anniversary. Although the NAOC VII was unable to be held in Puerto Rico due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its going virtual allowed attendance by over 2,800 participants from 67 countries, a wonderful audience for our deserving awardees.
Honors an individual or group that demonstrates outstanding guidance and direction that contributes, or has contributed to, advancing PIF conservation efforts.
ANDREW COUTURIER, Canada, Senior Director, Landscape Science and Conservation with Birds Canada, has been selected to receive an Individual PIF Leadership Award. Andrew has been a major player for over two decades in bird conservation in Canada and North America. His strongest role, delivered primarily through partnership projects, has been to ensure and enable visualization of geo-spatial data in maps and other important products, and make science and conservation understandable to the public, the scientific community, government policy and decision-makers, and others. Andrew’s behind-the-scenes contributions have included mapping for all the PIF planning documents, such as the pivotal Saving Our Shared Birds: Partners in Flight Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation.
YOLANDA LEÓN, Dominican Republic (Grupo Jaragua, Board President), has been selected to receive an Individual PIF Leadership Award for her groundbreaking work to conserve forest habitats for vulnerable migrant and resident birds and overall biodiversity in southwestern Dominican Republic, particularly in the forests of Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. Through scientific investigation, advocacy, outreach to local communities, strategic planning, and on-the-ground conservation efforts, Yolanda has significantly contributed to the conservation of priority landbirds such as the Bicknell’s Thrush and many other overwintering Neotropical migratory bird species which are found in this ecologically critical and highly vulnerable region.
DAVID MEHLMAN, United States, has been selected to receive an Individual PIF Leadership Award. David led The Nature Conservancy’s Migratory Bird Program for over 15 years, for which he both provided planning, science and integration of PIF priorities to inform TNC’s conservation efforts across the hemisphere, and managed projects in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. His efforts included working with partners to protect grassland habitat in northern Mexico for priority species like the Baird’s Sparrow, montane tropical oak forest in Colombia and Peru for the Cerulean Warbler, and habitat for Kirtland’s Warbler in the Bahamas and Bicknell’s Thrush in the Dominican Republic.
MARVIN TÓRREZ GUTIÉRREZ, Nicaragua, has been selected to receive an Individual PIF Leadership Award for his twenty years of dedication to the conservation of wild birds. From leading and training others at MoSI Program (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal, Monitoring Overwintering Survival) banding stations to his position as Director Estación Biológica Juan Roberto Zarruk, Universidad Centroamericana, Marvin has been a leader and catalyst in promoting ornithology, ecology, and the conservation of biota and natural resources in Nicaragua and throughout Central America. He is also the Nicaraguan Biodiversity Monitoring National Coordinator, and is part of a team monitoring the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler.
Honors an individual or group that conducts outstanding research and/or contributes scientific data and interpretations that improve our understanding of avian ecology, habitat management, or other scientific factors important to the PIF initiative.
SARAHY CONTRERAS, Mexico, a professor and researcher at the University of Guadalajara-CUCSUR, has been selected to receive an Individual PIF Investigations Award. Her work and accomplishments have spanned the past 25 years, and she was among the Mexican biologists who were involved in the early days of U.S./Mexico collaborations to study the non-breeding sites of migratory birds, as a student of Eduardo Santana’s. The results of her projects have been applied to the conservation, management, and restoration of bird habitats in subtropical temperate mountain forests, especially for hummingbirds and passerines in western Mexico. She’s a firm believer in the value of education and outreach, and a natural partner.
Public Awareness Award
Honors an individual or group that contributes significantly to increasing the public’s awareness and appreciation for birds, their habitats, or the need for conservation.
SET NET COMMUNICATIONS, Nicaragua (Adelayda Rivas Sotelo, Director), has been selected to receive a Group PIF Public Awareness Award for their effective use of communication and social outreach to help promote biodiversity and environmental conservation, training, and empowerment of less advantaged Hispanic woman. The efforts of Adelayda and her media company, including to support sustainable populations and wise stewardship of migratory birds, are far reaching throughout Central America and the Caribbean. In Nicaragua, Set Net Communications has provided media coverage for a U.S. Forest Service and local NGO long-term biodiversity study of migratory and resident birds.
Honors an individual or group that contributes significantly to the management, conservation, or restoration of landbird habitat or priority species.
TERRA PENINSULAR, Mexico (Cesar Guerrero Ávila, Executive Director), has been selected to receive a Group PIF Stewardship Award. Terra Peninsular is a Mexican non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the ecosystems and landscapes of the Baja California Peninsula, as well as in Sonora and Sinaloa states, and is a key partner of the Sonoran Joint Venture. Through direct land protection, adaptive management and community engagement, Terra Peninsular has worked to protect the unique birds and habitats of the region, including for the endangered California Gnatcatcher, by working directly with local communities. It also leads the San Quintín Bird Festival, the largest bird festival in the Baja California Peninsula.