Meet the 2011 Winners  

Celebrating Alaska’s conservation heroes

Celia Hunter Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contributions

Stacy M. Studebaker, Kodiak
Spending time to educate & give voice to conservation issues

Stacy Studebaker

Stacy Studebaker has devoted her life to environmental activism and education, having volunteered for conservation issues fromYosemite, California to Kodiak, Alaska, where she makes her home. She is best described as a creative, collaborative, and effective conservation communicator, activist, and educator.

Among Stacy’s myriad volunteer achievements are co-producer and host of “Lila Liverwort” of My Green Earth, a weekly, environmental radio show that aired internationally through Radio for Peace International (broadcast arm of the United Nations) and co-founder of Kodiak Audubon Chapter where she served as president from 1999 to 2004. She successfully fought illegal filling of a half-acre of Kodiak’s Pasagshak River and collaborated with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to nominate Important Bird Areas in Kodiak now recognized as globally significant for threatened bird species habitat conservation.

More recently, Stacy has worked for the past seven years to painstakingly rearticulate a gray whale skeleton for the new USFWS Visitor Center in Kodiak where she also volunteers as a field botanist each summer, sharing her expertise about local plants with visitors. She continues to be a tireless advocate for local and state issues involving marine and terrestrial habitat and wildlife. She is the co-author of Kodiak Audubon’s Hiking and Birding Guide and author of a new field guide on Southcentral Alaska flora.

Stacy has been recognized twice by the National Audubon Society—once in 2004, with a Presidential Service Award for Outstanding Chapter Leadership, and again in 2006, with a “Together Green – Green Hero” Award. Her efforts have also been recognized by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in 2010 for outstanding volunteer service.

Lowell Thomas, Jr. Award for Outstanding Achievements by a Conservation Organization

Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats
Protecting a cherished area for all to enjoy

Boy Scouts installing footings for a new kiosk.

Kiosk completed.

Forty-five square miles of wetlands, forest, lakes and tidal sloughs make up the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, located 30 minutes north of Anchorage. Ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, moose, muskrats, salmon and other wildlife call it home. But, this cherished recreation area fell victim to abuse, including target shooting, off-road vehicle operations, tree theft, trash dumping, vehicle burning, and more. Six years ago, a group of conservation-minded, outdoor enthusiasts came together to form Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats (APH) in order to clean up the refuge, and engage the local and regional community in changing the use and care of this special place.

Over the years, APH has been instrumental in organizing school groups, community organizations, boy scouts, governmental agencies, businesses and corporations to help clean up the refuge and deter illegal uses. They’ve also engaged these groups in improving visitor facilities and conducting educational programs. With grants, and donated labor and equipment, refuge access points have been transformed from trash-strewn into rich wildlife habitat and family-friendly recreational areas.

Because the refuge is a tremendous resource where citizens and visitors of all ages can learn about Alaska’s rich diversity and history, APH is embarking on an effort to realize a much needed Natural Science Education and Community Center. The center will provide an outlet for environmental education, recreation enjoyment and community gathering. As a result of this group’s work, many Alaskans have come to appreciate what a tremendous asset the refuge is—a place close to home where they can come to enjoy the outdoors.

Denny Wilcher Award for Young Environmental Activists

Maka Monture, Yakutat
Developing skills for community action & leadership

Maka Monture

Maka Monture’s passion for her Alaska Native culture and protecting Alaska’s environment is the guiding force to her young career. For the last two years, Maka has led the Yakutat chapter of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) as well as assisted with the statewide Wild Salmon campaign. Under her leadership, the chapter successfully led two efforts to reduce waste in their community with the “Bring Your Own Bag” and “Bring Your Own Cup” campaigns. Maka and other teens in YAYEA worked with local stores to provide incentives to their customers using reusable bags and coffee cups. She has also strengthened the group’s connection to statewide AYEA and other chapters by encouraging local members to participate in every statewide AYEA training.

To support protection for Alaska’s wild salmon, Maka traveled to Washington, D.C. in Spring 2011 with Alaska’s federal congressional delegation. She c0-authored and presented a youth resolution to protect wild salmon. The resolution had over 1,000 signatures that she also helped collect. In 2010, she presented the keynote address at the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Tribal Leaders Summit. Following this inspiring speech, she received the EPA Carroll Paddock Jorgenson Environmental Award.

While all of the youth who participate in AYEA are taking on leadership roles and building powerful skills for community action, Maka stands out as a leader of leaders. Early this year, Maka received the Gates Millenium Scholarship to attend college. She plans to continue her advocacy through college, and hopes to help represent Indigenous people in maintaining their cultural and ancestral lands.

Jerry S. Dixon Award for Excellence in Environmental Education

Daisy Lee Bitter, Homer
Innovating science education in Alaska

Daisy Lee Bitter

Daisy Lee Bitter is a legendary Alaskan science educator whose enthusiastic, well-informed, innovative approach to education has inspired thousands of students and educators for more than 50 years. Through 29 years in the classroom, hands-on outdoor workshops and field trips, public radio, books and articles, she has informed and shared her love of science and Alaska’s environment. Her creative approach to teaching includes pioneering the first classroom field trip by DC-3 airplane! She has produced an award-winning TV series about Alaska’s Native cultures, administered educational programs for Alaska Native students, and served as the school principal for Fairview and Susitna Elementary Schools.

An active volunteer in her community, Daisy became involved in the newly formed Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS) in 1983. As CACS ‘s first volunteer education director, she set up an award-winning program recognized by the National Association of Science Teachers. She later served as CACS Board President and led the efforts to acquire 126 acres of wilderness in the hills above Homer that eventually became the Wynn Nature Center. Her local contributions were recognized when she was awarded Homer’s Citizen of the Year in 1986. She was also a founder and board member of Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT), a nonprofit organization focused on preserving the Kenai Peninsula, and Alaska’s first land trust.

Daisy’s love of education extends beyond science. Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska, Alaska State Troopers, and others have engaged her to teach science/environmental education and survival classes. Her excitement about the natural world is contagious to all who come into contact with her. If you haven’t had the experience of being in her classroom, don’t miss Daisy’s lesson on sandhill cranes.

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

Robert H. (Bob) Armstrong, Juneau
Capturing the richness & importance of Alaska’s natural landscape & wildlife

Bob Armstrong

Few people have done as much as Bob Armstrong to educate Alaskans and others about Alaska’s incredible wildlife and natural history.  For more than 50 years, Bob has reached hundreds of thousands of people and helped them to understand and appreciate Alaska’s wildlife and the need for conservation through his photography. He has published more than 14 books and scores of magazine articles featuring his spectacular images of Alaska’s birds, mammals, fish, insects, and plants. His book, Guide to the Birds of Alaska, is now in its fifth edition and is considered the definitive field guide on Alaska’s birds.

Bob’s desire to help people learn, understand, and appreciate Alaska’s wildlife and wild lands stems from a career as a fisheries biologist for the State of Alaska for twenty years, followed by teaching courses in fisheries and ornithology as an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska.  His photography is a combination of art, science and education, and is of the highest technical quality, accurately portraying Alaska’s beauty and wild life.

His enthusiasm and willingness to share his knowledge about photography and Alaska’s wildlife and wild lands is truly inspirational.  He has generously shared his photographs with conservation organizations. Today, Bob continues to photograph and write about Alaska’s natural history. More of his photography can be found online.

Olaus Murie Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions

Dorothy Childers, Anchorage
Advocating for coastal Alaskans & Alaska’s oceans

Dorothy Childers

Dorothy Childers joined Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) in 1995, and currently serves as associate director. AMCC is a community-based organization of people working to protect the long-term health of Alaska’s oceans and sustain the working waterfronts of our coastal communities. During that time she has overseen AMCC’s efforts in two congressional reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, when new conservation and community protection provisions were established.

True to AMCC’s approach to conservation, Dorothy has strived to support the perspective of coastal Alaskans and community-based fishermen in shaping conservation solutions. Dorothy received a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation for a project addressing the northern Bering Sea and the potential movement of large-scale fisheries into new areas due to changing ocean conditions. She collaborates with the Bering Sea Elders Group (traditional tribal leaders), to identify culturally and ecologically sensitive areas for the marine resources that traditional communities rely on. Dorothy serves on the federally-appointed North Pacific Research Board and Marine Fish Conservation Network board of advisors.

Award for Outstanding Achievements by an Alaska Native Organization or Individual

Caleb Pungowiyi, Wasilla (1941-2011)
Protecting the vital link between Alaska Native culture and a healthy environment

Caleb Pungowiyi

A Yup’ik Eskimo from the village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Caleb Pungowiyi devoted his life to advocating for Indigenous people of the north. He was a passionate yet humble person who followed his beliefs and led by example. Those beliefs included a commitment to the well-being of Indigenous peoples, and a recognition that sustaining Arctic cultures requires sustaining the Arctic environment.

During his lifetime, he held numerous leadership positions, including serving as president of Kawerak Inc., the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and the Robert Aqqaluk Newlin Sr. Memorial Trust. After ICC he returned to his wife’s home of Kotzebue, and worked tirelessly to gain recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge in conservation and research. He shared his experiences and concern for protecting the subsistence way of life and the environment by serving on the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs Advisory Committee, as Special Advisor for Native Affairs to the Marine Mammal Commission and the Steering Committee of the Alaska Native Science Commission. Most recently, he worked on developing relationships between Alaska Natives and conservation groups as the Rural Liaison and Senior Advisor for Oceana.

Caleb passed in July after a courageous battle with cancer. He was an advisor, mentor, educator, guide, and dear friend to many in Alaska. When Caleb learned he would be receiving this award, he wrote “it is with honor that I will accept this award. Henry (his nominator) must have done some sales job for me!” But, it was Caleb’s grace, humor, intelligence, humility and kindness that made a positive difference for Alaska and his strong belief that we can have a better world.

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