National Wildlife Refuge Association
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 905, Washington, DC 20036, 202-417-3803, firstname.lastname@example.org
High resolution photos are available for download at the bottom of this release.
Washington, D.C. - The National Wildlife Refuge Association is pleased to announce that we have named Celeste De Palma as our first ever National Wildlife Refuge System Advocate of the Year. Ms. De Palma is the Director of Everglades Policy at Audubon Florida and was instrumental in mobilizing her community to help stop the licensing revocation of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
“We are thrilled to present Celeste with our first ever Refuge Advocate Award,” said Geoffrey Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Her tireless efforts to protect the Loxahatchee refuge from lease termination went above and beyond her job description at Audubon. We could not ask for a more dedicated advocate for the Refuge System.”
In August of 2016, Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, took legal action attempting to end a 66 year-old agreement between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). In response, Celeste began gathering refuge advocates from the local, state and national level to protect the refuge. She rallied community members, flew into Washington D.C. to speak with Florida Delegators, and organized weekly conference calls with stakeholders. In all, over 67,000 emails were sent to Governor Scott defending the refuge.
Celeste even sought out unconventional means to help protect the refuge. Not only did she band together conservationists to advocate for the refuge, she also called upon teachers, students,
ex-Governing Board Members of SFWMD, local garden clubs, Homeowners Associations, recreational groups, and local, state and national NGOs. She successfully leveraged these voices to draw public attention to the issue.
On November 9, 2017, refuge advocates won a victory when the Governing Board Members of SFWMD approved a resolution delegating SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks the authority to enter into a new license agreement with the USFWS. This agreement was officially signed in February of this year. Celeste’s campaign to protect Loxahatchee NWR was not only a success, but a demonstration of how hardwork and perseverance during hard times pays off in a big way for conservation.
Ms. De Palma’s dedication to protecting Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the overall Everglades Ecosystem and the surrounding community is inspirational, for these reasons, we are proud to present this award to the very deserving, Celeste De Palma.
Ms. De Palma’s award was presented on May 24, 2018, at the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Photo 1: Web Quality, High Resolution
Photo 2: Web Quality, High Resolution
Photo 1 Caption: Celeste De Palma named the 2018 National Wildlife Refuge System Advocate of the Year by the National Wildlife Refuge Association at their annual awards dinner in Washington, D.C. Left to right: Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System; Greg Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service; Celeste De Palma, Everglades Policy Director of Audubon Florida; Geoff Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association; and Jim Kurth, Deputy Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo credit: National Wildlife Refuge Association.
Photo 2 Caption: Celeste De Palma named the 2018 National Wildlife Refuge System Advocate of the Year by the National Wildlife Refuge Association at their annual awards dinner in Washington, D.C. Left to right: Geoff Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Celeste De Palma, Everglades Policy Director of Audubon Florida. Photo credit: National Wildlife Refuge Association.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity. For more information, visit www.refugeassociation.org or contact Kristen Berry, National Wildlife Refuge Association, 202-417-3803.