2015 Distinguished Honorees Selected, Program Named for Noted Conservationist Terry Hershey

 

Ellen Temple
Ellen Temple

HOUSTON, Texas (December 3, 2014) – Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation Program will debut in 2015 to honor the role that women play in the conservation field in the Lone Star State. A key highlight of the new program is the Terry Hershey Award which recognizes outstanding women leaders. In addition to the award, the new program supports opportunities in Texas for girls and women to become more involved in conservation and environmental sciences and engages women on important issues related to conservation in Texas.

 

The award is named for conservation icon Terry Hershey, who has devoted substantial passion, time, energy and resources to significant conservation projects in Houston, throughout Texas and nationally for more than 50 years. Mrs. Hershey is a former member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and a founding board member of Bayou Preservation Association, Houston Audubon Society, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center, The Park People, and Urban Harvest. She is a past board member for Audubon Texas, National Audubon Society, National Recreation and Park Association and The Trust for Public Land.

 

“The history of the conservation movement in Texas is replete with the leadership, passion and dedication of extraordinary women and surely among the most extraordinary of those is Terry Hershey, for whom this award is named,” said Andrew Sansom, who is a member of the board of Audubon Texas and Chair of the Terry Hershey Women in Conservation Awards Steering Committee. “It is a privilege to be associated with Terry and the splendid group of honorees who, in 2015, will be the first to be honored for their good works.”

 

The inaugural group of honorees are: Carol Dinkins, Environmental Practice Group Leader, Vinson &Elkins LLP (Houston), Susan Rieff, Executive Director, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin), Ellen Temple, Conservationist, book publisher and education advocate (Lufkin) and Mary Anne Piacentini, Executive Director, Katy Prairie Conservancy (Houston).

 

Audubon Texas and the Houston Audubon Society will co-host the first Terry Hershey Texas Women in Conservation Awards luncheon in Houston on February 5, 2015 at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. The guest speaker will be Allison Whipple Rockefeller, a keen supporter of the National Audubon’s Women in Conservation Program, after which the Texas program is modeled. She chairs the Rachel Carson Awards Council, which selects the honorees for the national program.

 

Carol Dinkins is an inaugural recipient of the Terry Hershey Award in Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation orogram because of the landmarks in her exceptional career and her focus on conservation priorities while serving in positions of public trust. In 1979, Governor Bill Clements appointed Dinkins chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Coastal Zone Management, and in 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed her assistant attorney general of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She was the first woman to hold that post. President Reagan later appointed her Deputy Attorney General of the United States, which made her the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in law enforcement at that time. In 1997, Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and in 2000 to chair the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation. She was the first Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner to visit every state park in Texas. She was inducted to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. She was a member of the American Bar Association board of governors from 2005-2008. She held various officer positions, including chair, on the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. Previously, she chaired the Texas Chapter’s Board of Trustees for three years, for which she remains trustee emeritus.

 

Susan Rieff has been chosen to receive a Terry Hershey award from Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation program this first year because of the leadership highlights in her distinguished career and her advocacy of conservation best practices that is helping to transform how we think about native and sustainable landscaping in Texas and throughout the country. Rieff began the latest phase of her career as executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 2004, but that is only the most recent chapter of her notable conservation career. She served as the first Director of the Resource Protection Division at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as Assistant Commissioner under Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower, as Director of Environmental Policy for Texas Governor Ann Richards, and as Policy Director for Land Stewardship at the National Wildlife Federation. From 1995 to 1998, Rieff served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. In her tenure at the Wildflower Center, she has transformed the nation’s thinking and best practices of integrating native flora into public and private landscapes throughout the country. She has tirelessly advanced the reach of the Wildflower Center and it is now a department at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Ellen Clarke Temple is among the group of inaugural recipients of the Terry Hershey Award in Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation program because of her untiring advocacy, personal commitment and leadership of conservation initiatives throughout Texas for decades. She is passionate about conserving the Neches River and its designation as a Wild and Scenic River. Ellen has worked for many years to raise awareness of the value and beauty of the plants of the East Texas forests and the need to conserve them. Besides her work in conservation, Ellen is a book publisher who has worked on behalf of public education at all levels and for libraries in Texas. She served as a member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents from 1991-1997, serving as vice chair from 1995-1997, and is currently a past president and member of the board of trustees of Angelina College. She served as president of the board of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin from 1997-1999 and is a past member of the board of the Nature Conservancy of Texas. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for South Texas Natives, a program of the Kleberg Wildlife Institute at A&M Kingsville, and on the Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center Advisory Board. She was honored as East Texan of the Year in 2009 by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. Ellen and her husband Buddy Temple have won numerous awards together for their conservation work in Texas, including the 2011 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award for Temple Ranch; the Lifetime of Conservation Achievement Award given by the Texas Conservation Alliance, 2012; and the R.E. Jackson Conservation Award given Big Thicket Association in 2014.

 

Mary Anne Piacentini is an inaugural recipient of the Terry Hershey Award and Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation Program because of her tireless dedication in the trenches to making conservation a priority in the community she calls home. Piacentini became Executive Director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) in 1999. At that time, the Katy Prairie Conservancy had just acquired its first 1,300 acres of preserve, rescued from rapid development plans that seriously threatened the integrity of the much larger coastal prairie landscape of the region. Since 1999, Piacentini and KPC’s Board of Directors have grown the Katy Prairie Conservancy from 1,300 acres to over 20,000 acres within the boundaries of one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas. She has demonstrated unprecedented creativity in community-building around a conservation cause, innovative fundraising and partnership development strategies, and telling the conservation story in terms that are relevant to all. Piacentini has purposefully chosen to not make the Katy Prairie Conservancy just about landscapes and wildlife, but also about people – a strategy that Terry Hershey herself employed throughout her storied career. She is a past president of the Texas Land Trust Council and in 2005, received the Army and Sarah Emmot Conservation award for environmental excellence from the Citizen’s Environmental Coalition.

 

“Audubon Texas is pleased to partner with the Houston Audubon Society for the first annual Terry Hershey Award luncheon on February 5, 2015,”said Brian Trusty, executive director of Audubon Texas. “It is our hope that these awards will serve as inspiration to other women and will encourage young girls to get involved and stay involved in conservation.”

 

There is cause for concern about the involvement of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. According to an American Survey Report (2013) published by the US Census Bureau, twice as many men are employed in these fields as women, and in recent decades, growth in STEM employment among younger women has fallen.

 

“We want to do all we can to encourage young girls and women that an interest in nature and the outdoors can lead to satisfying and worthwhile careers in conservation and science,” said Helen Drummond, executive director of the Houston Audubon Society. “The inaugural honorees of the Terry Hershey Award are wonderful role models and demonstrate that their commitment to conservation is leaving a legacy for us all.”

 

Fundraising continues to support Audubon’s Texas Women in Conservation program. All gifts in support of this award and all proceeds from Audubon’s annual luncheon will support the enhancement of citizen science, conservation, and educational activities in Texas that focus on engaging women and girls in stewardship and conservation of the natural world. For more information, contact Brian Trusty at 214-370-9735 or visit http://www.texaswomeninconservation.org/
About Audubon in Texas: For more than 100 years, Audubon has established itself as a leader in protecting and conserving wildlife and habitat and inspiring people to take action on behalf of the environment. Audubon’s success is based on a foundation of science, education, and policy. Established in 2001 as the state program of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Texas’s conservation work includes 70% of the Gulf Coast, 3 million acres of statewide grasslands, and 19 Important Bird Areas. Audubon Texas also engages communities in civic action, outdoor education initiatives, and citizen science at its Audubon Centers in Cedar Hill, Dallas, and San Antonio and its Audubon Sanctuary in Brownsville.

 

Established in 1969 as a chapter of the National Audubon Society, Houston Audubon Society’s mission is to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments which it accomplishes through acquiring and maintaining critical habitat as bird sanctuaries, providing education programs and nature experiences for children and adults, and advocating policy and management actions in support of the mission. Houston Audubon owns and manages 17 nature sanctuaries encompassing 3,400 acres across the Greater Houston and Galveston regions, and every year they reach over 35,000 adults and children through their education and nature-based programs.