Every year Audubon Florida recognizes the state's leading conservationists with a suite of annual awards. This year awards were presented both virtually and as part of a small, local ceremony in Southwest Florida held at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on December 2.
Florida’s wealth of natural resources is supported by iconic landscapes and habitats that are essential to Floridians’ quality of life. Each year, Audubon Florida recognizes a conservationist with our Special Places Award for their work to protect the parks, species, and habitat that make our state so special.
Andrew Schumann, Animal Collections Manager at White Oak Conservation, has worked with some of the world’s most endangered animals and received the award for his work with Florida Grasshopper Sparrows.
He has a strong interest in recovering wild populations of animals through captive rearing and reintroduction programs and has worked with species from Andean Condors to Whooping Cranes. In 2015, when state and federal biologists feared the last remaining wild Florida Grasshopper Sparrows were at risk for extinction, Schumann, Rebecca Garlinger, who Andrew says is the "White Oak sparrow brain," and their whole team at White Oak Conservation joined other colleagues and organizations to forge a better future for this rare bird. Andrew and his team pioneered the captive breeding of this dwindling dry prairie songbird, with remarkable success. As a result of his efforts, the 500th captive-reared Florida Grasshopper Sparrow was released on the dry prairies of Central Florida. Thanks to Andrew and the collaboration of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Working Group’s members, the bird’s populations are growing, and so too are acres of protected Florida dry prairie habitat without which they cannot survive!