Meet the 2009 Winners  

2008-2009 Honorees

2008 Lifetime Achievement Award

Tom Meacham of Anchorage, Alaska

Tom Meacham has practiced environmental and natural resources law in Alaska since 1971. Professionally, he has been in private law practice in Anchorage with two law firms and in a solo law office during that time. In public service, he was the Assistant Alaska Attorney General responsible for land and conservation issues during the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enactment process in Washington, DC in 1976-82.  Since he arrived in Alaska courtesy of the US Army in 1967, he has been active as a legal volunteer on a variety of issues involving federal and state parks, wildlife, public land management and access, and water allocation.  He has been involved in public-interest litigation on snowmachine use in Denali National Park, mining claims in Chugach National Forest, and Board of Game issues.

In 1975, Tom was appointed by Gov. Hammond as the first non-hunter on the Alaska Board of Game.  He also served on the Alaska Water Resources Board, the Chugach State Park Citizens Advisory Board (including three years as chair), and as vice-chair of the Far North Bicentennial Park Task Force. Tom is a co-founder of the Hans Van Der Laan Brooks Range Trust, the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition, the Friends of Bicentennial Park, and the Chugach Park Access Coalition.  Over the past four decades, he has authored numerous well-written letters to the editor on topics ranging from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and ANILCA, to access to public lakes, and wolverine trapping in state parks.  His invaluable efforts on behalf of Alaska’s public resources have been instrumental in protecting this wonderful state.

2009 Olaus Murie Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions

Deborah L. Williams of Anchorage, Alaska

Deborah has dedicated over 17 years of service to advancing environmental protection in Alaska.  From protecting the Arctic Refuge to Exxon Trustee action to Climate Change, it is hard to name an environmental program that does not bear the mark of her influence and leadership.  No one in the conservation community rises to the challenge of an issue like Deborah, with political wheels spinning, media strategy, contact lists, talking points, and assignments all simultaneously emerging. She gives her all to every issue. She was Lead Attorney for the US Fish and Wildlife Service from 1978 to 1981, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Interior for Alaska from 1994 to 1998, Executive Director of ACF from 1999 to 2005, and is now President and Founder of Alaska Conservation Solutions.

2009 Celia Hunter Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contributions

Mike O’Meara of Homer, Alaska

Mike O’Meara personifies the conservation ethic and volunteer spirit of Celia Hunter.  Since 1969, he has been a tireless and effective advocate for our wild places, on issues ranging from offshore oil and gas leasing and coalbed methane development, to backcountry wilderness and clean energy. He has an outstanding record of service with a variety of groups, such as being a founding board member of both Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Cook Inletkeeper, and he’s played important roles on the boards of Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and the Cook Inlet Alliance.  Recently he’s spearheaded the Homer Electric Association Members Forum in an attempt to press for renewable energy alternatives over coal-fired power plants. He’s helped obtain permanent protections for Kachemak Bay from oil and gas development, fought back coalbed methane development on the Lower Kenai Peninsula, and elevated public awareness around the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

2009 Denny Wilcher Award for Young Environmental Activists

Megan Waggoner of Palmer, Alaska

Megan is wise well beyond her years, being an outstanding community organizer and environmental leader.  She’s been one of the most active young leaders in the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program over the past 5 years, dedicating herself to advocacy on issues such as climate change, energy efficiency, and youth organizing. She joined the AYEA program in 2005 for the Summer Get Together Training, later helped craft AYEA’s Letter to Our Leaderscampaign on global warming, and started an AYEA chapter at her school (Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka). Megan was chosen to travel to Washington, DC to represent AYEA at the President’s Environmental Youth Awardsand to accept the award on behalf of the program. In 2006 she helped create the “3-2-1”statewide campaign on energy conservation, being a member of the steering committee and actively involved in collecting pledges from youth across the state. After the one-year campaign cycle ended, she worked with the Alaska Association of Student Government to partner with AYEA and to continue promoting and circulating the 3-2-1 pledge to students across the state (over 4,000 Alaskans have signed the pledge). Megan attended AYEA’s Civics & Conservation Summit in 2005, and then volunteered as a Peer Leader in 2006, 2007, and 2008.  For the 2008 summit, Megan worked with the 20 youth participants to prepare for the groups’ meeting with the Governor and her Special Assistant, Joe Balash. She has also worked for AYEA in two separate internships.

2009 Lowell Thomas, Jr. Award for Outstanding Civil Service

Roger Kaye of Fairbanks, Alaska

As a person whose life encompasses an uncommon combination of government service and environmental activism, Roger has spent more than 30 years serving the public lands in Alaska.  He spent a year with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, following that with work at the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a Wilderness Specialist and pilot. His focus has been to ensure to the greatest degree possible that agency policies, provisions, and actions protect Alaska’s wilderness, character, and values. He has worked to ensure that the vision behind the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Wilderness Act are not forgotten. Roger played a significant role in shaping the Wilderness Stewardship Policy of the USFWS, and has contributed to countless management plans.  He developed two wilderness research projects: a study of the national interest in the Arctic Refuge, and a study of the refuge’s wilderness values experienced by visitors, both for use in the upcoming Comprehensive Conservation Plan processes for the refuge. Roger has served on the boards of Northern Alaska Environmental Center and the Murie Center, and has written articles for magazines and professional journals. He is also the author of Last Great Wilderness. In addition, Roger has taught wilderness management and environmental psychology at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

2009 Jerry S. Dixon Award for Excellence in Environmental Education

Mark Ross of Fairbanks, Alaska

Mark has developed his lifelong fascination with things wild into a career in biology and education, embellished by his full-time passion as an artist and naturalist. He uses his skills to educate thousands of people, introducing a sense of wonder for the natural world and respect for its conservation. He moved to Alaska in 1980, where his career in wildlife education led him to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. He spent the past 13 years at Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where he’s inspired thousands of visitors, from local school children to travelers from all over the world.  He organizes year-round outdoor hands-on programs at the refuge for local school-aged children. In 2007, more than 5,000 school-aged visitors attended his 1- to 2-hour outdoor lessons.  He is often seen talking with visitors formally or informally on scheduled or impromptu nature walks. He works with Alaska Bird Observatory and other groups to coordinate educational programs. He also assists teachers through individual contact and professional development courses that he designed for UAF.  He organizes and trains expert volunteers from the community to assist in all programs at the refuge, and trains student interns from UAF’s School of Land Management to work on the educational programs. He shares his passion for natural history and education through the hundreds of illustrations and field sketches he produces to describe the wild inhabitants of the refuge.

2009 Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award for
Excellence in Still Photography, Film or Video

Mark Kelley of Juneau, Alaska

Mark has been photographing the wilds of Alaska for 35 years. He has produced ten photography books on Alaska subjects, and his publishing credits include over 200 covers for magazines, brochures, and calendars. He’s worked on assignment for National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Outside, Alaska Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and many other publications.  His photos have illustrated the covers of Time for Kids, Sunset, Alaska Magazine, and many more. Mark runs a thriving publishing business, producing two annual calendars on Alaska and five books featuring his photos.  Trying to find the largest possible audience with his message of stewardship for Alaska’s wild lands, Mark stresses the importance of having commercially successful publications. He reaches out to the mass market and wants to bring into the fold those who are not yet aware of or committed to valuing Alaska’s environment. Mark hopes his photos, in conjunction with the writing of Nick Jans and Sherry Simpson, educate and inspire readers to protect Alaska and help to build a constituency for Alaska’s wilderness and wildlife. His publishing company sold more than 20,000 books in 2008, and he contributes a portion of his income to a number of environmental organizations.

2006 Alaska Conservation Foundation Award for Alaska Native Writers or Storytellers on the Environment

Dr. Phyllis Fast

Dr. Phyllis A. Fast, a Koyukon Athabascan artist originally from Anchorage, Alaska, is writer, educator and visual artist. Fast has earned degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Anchorage, and a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University. Fast has taught as a member of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Native Studies program, and currently is a member of the English Department at University of Alaska Anchorage.   In “Of Tadpoles and Spruce Pitch,” Dr. Fast takes the reader through her memories and experiences as an urban Native who is walking the complicated path between the fast paced professional world she lives in and the kinship relationship she feels to the world around her as an Alaskan native.

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