Audubon Florida celebrates Allyson Webb, Senior Resource Manager at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, as the Natural Resources Leadership Institute’s 2021 Burl Long Award winner.
The Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) is an eight-month professional development program run by the University of Florida. Each of the eight intensive, three-day sessions is held in a different part of the state and focuses on a specific and contentious natural resource issue. Sessions include expert briefings, field trips, experiential training, engagement with stakeholders, and practicum projects.
The Burl Long Award honors Dr. Burl Long, a founding member of the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI). It is an annual award given to the NRLI Fellow who best exemplifies the program’s mission of seeking inclusive, collaborative solutions to Florida’s challenging natural resource issues. What makes the award so special is the fact that the awardee is chosen by their peers. Allyson Webb was selected by her class – Class 20 – to receive the 2021 Burl Long Award.
Webb began volunteering for Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in 2004 before joining the team in 2007 as a resource manager, recently celebrating her 14th anniversary with Audubon Florida. At Audubon, Webb is known for her dedication to land management, particularly prescribed fire in her role as Burn Boss. Her restoration and management work are especially important as the Sanctuary strives to protect and prepare its habitat for changes associated with increased development, warming temperatures, and climate change.
“Since the very first NRLI session Allyson has been applying what she has learned to her work here at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Allyson works across teams at the Sanctuary to steward our unique natural resources, and will be a key voice in the Western Everglades as we work with surrounding landowners, agencies, and partner nonprofits to make our region resilient now and into the future,” said Lisa Korte, PhD, Director for Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
“It is clear that Allyson is passionate about better managing and protecting Florida’s fragile natural resources. We loved that she embraced opportunities to understand the roots of natural resource conflicts, listened to people on all sides of an issue, and practiced joint problem solving,” said Jon Dain, NRLI Director.
“Allyson really tried to absorb everything that she could. Every time we turned around she seemed to be engaged with her cohort, helping someone out or discussing natural resource issues,” Dain continued, “At our NRLI graduation ceremony last week, a member of her (diverse) class gave a speech where he noted that over the course of the program he had gained greater perspective. He then looked at Allyson admiringly and said ‘probably would not have sat down with someone from Audubon.’ It was clear that she had changed the way he thought about the organization. That is the kind of impact that Allyson had on her cohort and, I suspect, why they chose her to receive the Burl Long Award.”
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance that was recognized in 2019 as a Wetland of Distinction by the Society of Wetland Scientists, has been an Audubon-protected site for more than 100 years. It protects 13,000 acres, including the world’s largest remaining, old-growth bald cypress forest. An estimated 100,000 visitors annually explore the Sanctuary’s 2.25 miles of boardwalk through ancient forest and marsh habitat. Memberships and donations provide crucial support for conservation work at the Sanctuary.