New York, NY - Anne Thompson, NBC News' Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent, hosted Audubon's Rachel Carson Awards at the sixth annual Women in Conservation Luncheon at The Plaza in New York May 19. Inspired by Carson, whose ground-breaking 1962 book "Silent Spring" helped launch the modern environmental movement, the award recognizes women who demonstrate great leadership and commitment to conservation.
One of the preeminent conservation organizations in the country, the National Audubon Society was incorporated in 1905 following protests by women opposing the slaughter of birds for plumed hats. Now the organization connects people with nature at 50 Audubon Center across the country. "Shaping a brighter future is at the heart of what we are celebrating in all of our honorees today," said Audubon President John Flicker." Their extraordinary accomplishments serve as a reminder that each of us can make a difference for the environment, even in these challenging economic times."
This year's winners represent a variety of endeavors in conservation:
• Dr. Sylvia Earle: Dr. Earle is an oceanographer, author, lecturer and National Geographic Explorer in Residence whose work has expanded awareness and conservation of the fragile marine environment. Former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Earle is president and founder of Deep Search International. She has led more than 60 expeditions, including the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970. She also set a record for solo diving to a depth of 3,300 feet. Her research focuses on marine ecosystems in the deep sea and other remote environments.
• Sally Jewell (pictured): Ms. Jewell is president and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national outdoor gear and apparel retailer dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Additionally, Jewell sits on the boards of the National Parks Conservation Association, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Initiative for Global Development and the University of Washington. She also serves on The National Forum on Children and Nature Advisory Board and the National Parks Second Century Commission.
• Elizabeth C. Titus Putnam: Ms. Putnam is the president and founder of the Student Conservation Association, the nation's largest youth conservation leadership organization. While studying at Vassar College in the mid-1950's, she envisioned a contemporary conservation core that would utilize her strength and the energy of students to respond to the threats facing America's national parks. Through her hard work, vision and determination, she established and nurtured the SCA. Thanks to her efforts, nearly 4,000 students contribute over two million hours of service each year to protecting and restoring America's parks, forests, refuges, seashores and communities.
• Elizabeth Colleton, Jane Evans and Susan Haspel – NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" Initiative: Launched in May 2007, Green is Universal is NBC Universal's ongoing effort to promote environmental awareness and action, and to green the company's own operations. Spanning numerous business units, Green is Universal provides hundreds of hours of green-themed content and activities across all platforms throughout the year and especially during dedicated "Green Weeks." Company executives Beth Colleton, Jane Evans and Susan Haspel lead a wide array of related green efforts, including a pilot program to implement the reduction of carbon emissions and providing over $300,000 in green grants to underserved public education programs.
"In covering environmental issues for the past two years, I have been privileged to travel the world documenting problems and solutions," said Anne Thompson in her opening remarks as emcee. "Yet polls show the environment is still at the bottom of the list when it comes to Americans' priorities. So groups like the National Audubon Society have an even more crucial and important role to play."
As NBC News' Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent, Thompson reports on issues such as alternative fuels, global warming, land usage and new technologies for all NBC News broadcasts. Thompson has received the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award and was part of the "Nightly News" team that won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and the Emmy Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
Allison Whipple Rockefeller chaired the event. A member of Audubon New York's board, Ms. Rockefeller has been working for over 20 years on issues relating to parks, land and habitat conservation, historic preservation and brownfield reclamation. She is deeply committed to the communication of American heritage, history and values, emphasizing, in particular, those of New York State. Mrs. Rockefeller acknowledged several previous winners of Audubon's Rachel Carson Award who attended, including Majora Carter, Jayni Chase, Lynn Chase, Bernadette Castro, and Norma Dana.
More about these women and their work at www.audubon.org/wic
The Rachel Carson event benefits Audubon's Long Island Restoration Project.