By Carol Beidleman, Chair, Partners in Flight Awards Committee
Through the Partners in Flight (PIF) Awards, PIF has recognized outstanding individuals and groups across the Americas 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 have seven 2022 PIF Award winners, four individuals for Leadership, one group each for Investigations and Public Awareness, and one individual for the David N. Pashley Lifetime Achievement Award. Four of the 2022 awardees are from the U.S., and the other three are from Latin America. Awardees were recognized at the BLM and Partners in Flight Awards Reception at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in St. Louis on March 21, 2023, and at the Partners in Flight Western Working Group Spring Meeting in Las Vegas on April 26, 2023.
Please visit the Partners in Flight website, and see below, to read about the important contributions to bird conservation made by these awardees.
We appreciate all those who help make the PIF Awards possible, including the U.S. Forest Service for sponsorship, the award nominators who seek to recognize their peers, the PIF Awards Committee for their review and selection, the artist who makes these beautiful awards, Weyerhaeuser who does the shipping, and Klamath Bird Observatory for updating the PIF website and Facebook page.
The 2022 PIF Award winners are:
Sara Evans-Peters, Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture (U.S.)
Elizabeth Neipert, Department of Defense Partners in Flight (U.S.)
Russell Norvell, Utah Department of Natural Resources (U.S.)
Miguel Matta, Environment for the Americas (Venezuela)
SELVA Migratory Ecology Program (Colombia)
Museo de las Aves de México (México)
DAVID N. PASHLEY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Vashti “Tice” Supplee, Audubon Southwest (U.S.)
2022 PARTNERS IN FLIGHT AWARDEES BY AWARD CATEGORY
LEADERSHIP [Honors an individual or group demonstrating outstanding guidance and direction that contributes, or has contributed to, advancing PIF conservation efforts.]
SARA EVANS-PETERS, U.S. Assistant Coordinator for the PACIFIC BIRDS Habitat Joint Venture, has been selected to receive an Individual Partners in Flight Leadership Award for catalyzing collaboration for oak and prairie conservation to benefit landbirds in the Pacific Northwest. Oak-prairie ecosystems have experienced dramatic loss and degradation, and its associated songbirds are amongst the most imperiled of western birds. Sara has been a driving force for collaborative leadership for conservation at Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture and to many partners building momentum for oak and prairie conservation. She was a co-author of the 2016 Prairie, Oaks, and People: A Conservation Business Plan and led the development of the Pacific Birds’ Oak and Prairie Action Plan, which guides the work of the Joint Venture. Sara has helped develop and lead strategic planning processes for at least five regional oak and prairie-focused conservation partnerships across the Pacific Northwest, which have set partners up for success in achieving goals and significantly advancing oak and prairie conservation.
ELIZABETH (LIZ) NEIPERT, Research Wildlife Biologist at US Army R&D Center, Technical Coordinator Department of Defense (DoD) Partners in Flight (PIF), has been selected to receive an Individual Partners in Flight Leadership Award for using the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) to meet PIF priority strategic goals by expanding resources for increased full life cycle conservation science capacities on DoD lands and beyond. Building on her years of leadership in DoD PIF, Liz is harnessing the resources of the military to help meet numerous PIF strategic action plan objectives by creating and leading the DoD AKN Program, providing unique leadership among federal agencies by contributing to the Council for Migratory Birds use of the AKN, and chairing the AKN Steering Committee. As a result of her leadership, the DoD AKN Program has gone from a concept to a working, continent-wide DoD program supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which has mandated the use of AKN for all bird data collected on DoD lands.
RUSSELL NORVELL, Avian Conservation Program Director for the Utah Department of Natural Resources, has been selected to receive an Individual Partners in Flight (PIF) Leadership Award for his leadership in effective voluntary partnerships and bird conservation projects in Utah and the western U.S. For nearly 30 years, Russ’s career has been dedicated to birds and their conservation through research, monitoring, and management, rooted in PIF’s mission and recommendations. In 2002 he co-authored the Utah PIF Avian Conservation Strategy and has been the PIF Coordinator for Utah since 2008, engaging with PIF Western Working Group. Russ led Utah’s Riparian Project; coordinated the North American Breeding Bird Survey in Utah; implemented the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions program to track bird populations such as Pinyon Jay and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, in collaboration with Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Department of Defense; and helped develop an array of Motus infrastructure. His successes were only feasible because of the trusting partnerships Russ had built.
MIGUEL MATTA (Venezuela), World Migratory Bird Day Latin America Coordinator for Environment for the Americas, has been selected to receive an Individual Partners in Flight Leadership Award for his role in leading bird conservation in Venezuela, Mexico, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. Miguel was the first Latin America Coordinator for World Migratory Bird Day and has significantly increased the number of events and activities in every region. Today, he leads a team that includes regional coordinators in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, ensuring that Latin American representatives are involved in key international meetings. He collaborates with American Bird Conservancy to develop Bird City programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Because of Miguel, bird conservation has remained active in Venezuela during an extremely challenging time in the country’s history, through coordinating bird banding training, launching Festival de Aves Migratorias de Venezuela, and establishing a Motus station…where almost the first species recorded was a Golden-winged Warbler banded in Tennessee.
INVESTIGATIONS [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.]
SELVA Migratory Ecology Program (Colombia) has been selected to receive a Group Partners in Flight (PIF) Investigations Award for innovating and implementing the Neotropical Flyways Project (NFP) in Central America and northern South America. SELVA’s Migratory Ecology Program is uniquely focused on the biology and conservation of long-distance migratory birds during their non-breeding periods within the Neotropics, many of which are in steep decline and have been the flagship focus of PIF since its inception. Yet the basic ecology, migration strategies, stopover needs, and regional threats for these Neotropical migrants have remained a “black hole” in our knowledge that hampers effective conservation strategies for these species throughout their annual cycles. To address this gap, SELVA launched the NFP with many partners to identify and assess migratory stopover sites across the region. NFP has worked hard to build capacity through SELVA’s field training in site selection, survey techniques, mist-netting and banding, Motus tagging, and data analysis and by empowering young biologists across the Neotropics.
PUBLIC AWARENESS [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.]
MUSEO DE LAS AVES DE MÉXICO (Museum of Birds of Mexico; Musave) has been selected to receive a Group Partners in Flight Public Awareness Award for its successful non-formal environmental education program for the conservation of Mexico’s national avifauna. Founded in 1993, the Museum’s main objective is to Know to Value, and Preserve, since nobody loves what they do not know. Its dioramas and exhibitions, which portray the natural history of Mexican avifauna in the country’s major ecosystems, are of incalculable value for Mexican society because no other museum exhibits the incredible wealth of bird species in Mexico. Its collections have benefited many other fields of science and humanities, used by authors of field guides, artists, law enforcement agencies, planners, and ecologists. As an institution outside the federal government, Musave is also involved in conservation of biodiversity by providing awareness and protection of sites of high biological importance, including the Museum’s nature reserves, La India, and El Taray, which protect endangered endemics.
DAVID N. PASHLEY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT [An individual who has made outstanding contributions, consistently over the entirety of his or her career of 15 or more years, to advancing PIF’s mission, bird conservation efforts for PIF priority birds and habitats, and/or through PIF’s various committees or working groups.]
VASHTI “TICE” SUPPLEE, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Southwest, has been selected to receive an Individual Partners in Flight (PIF) David N. Pashley Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of contributions to bird and habitat conservation in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Tice had a 29-year career with the Arizona Game and Fish Department before embarking on her “second” career with the National Audubon Society. She continues to work as Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Southwest, including administering the Arizona Important Bird Areas Program. She has participated in Arizona PIF and its reimagined Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative since its inception and has been vital in formulating and conducting the Arizona Coordinated Bird Monitoring Program. Tice has mentored many, supporting the next generation of conservationists and teaching others that conservation is a human act and that you need to make connections to do it well. She uses her past career, connections, and friendships to forge effective and far-reaching conservation outcomes.