Pelicans and other birds roosting on a mangrove island. Photo: Jean Hall
Pelicans and other birds roosting on a mangrove island. Photo: Jean Hall

Audubon Assembly

Audubon Florida Recognizes Conservation Leaders for 2021

Annual awards feature Florida's leading conservationists.

Every year as part of our annual meeting, the Audubon Assembly, Audubon Florida recognizes the state's leading conservationists with a suite of annual awards. This year's honorees include:

Reed Bowman - Guy Bradley Award

Richard Grosso - Everglades Champion Award

Eric Draper - Teddy Roosevelt Award

Reid Hughes - Special Places Award

Joan Dunn - Volunteer of the Year Award

Carol Timmis - Distinguished Philanthropist Award

Guy Bradley Award

Guy Bradley was an Audubon Warden in the Everglades who was murdered by wading bird poachers in 1905. His death galvanized the conservation movement, eventually resulting in the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each year, Audubon Florida recognizes an individual for their contributions to bird conservation with an award in Guy Bradley’s honor.

Audubon selected Reed Bowman to receive the Guy Bradley Award for his life’s work growing our understanding of some of Florida’s most imperiled bird species, guiding their conservation, and training the next generation of researchers.

Bowman’s career at Archbold Biological Station has generated the strong science needed to understand and protect Florida’s only endemic bird species, the Florida Scrub-Jay, with ground-breaking studies on fire, cooperative breeding behavior, interactions between jay groups, dominance hierarchies, prey base, and so much more. He has been instrumental in the captive breeding and reintroduction of critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrows, and has mentored countless graduate students who now are advancing conservation science across the country.

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Everglades Champion Award

Each year, Audubon Florida recognizes a conservation champion for their contributions to the River of Grass with our Everglades Champion Award.

This year’s 2021 Everglades Champion Award honoree is Richard Grosso, who has used the law to advocate for the Everglades since 1990.  As a lawyer and former Executive Director and General Counsel for Everglades Law Center, Inc., Grosso has provided legal, strategic, and policy advice to dozens of organizations and individuals working to restore the Everglades. Most recently, he has joined with Tropical Audubon Society to challenge the sprawl-inducing proposal to extend the 836 expressway in Miami-Dade County across conservation lands needed for Everglades restoration.

Click here to learn more.

Teddy Roosevelt Award 

President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with the founding of America’s National Park System, and making land conservation a core American value. Every year, Audubon Florida recognizes a conservationist who has made significant contributions to conservation in Florida.

This year’s 2021 Teddy Roosevelt Award winner is Eric Draper for a career of leadership on behalf of Florida’s environment. Draper will retire at the end of 2021 as head of the Florida Park Service, where he oversaw the addition of iconic new parks ranging from Gilchrist Springs to the Bluffs of St. Teresa. Previously, he served as Executive Director and Policy Director for Audubon Florida, with accomplishments for Everglades restoration, water resource protection, land conservation, and more.

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Special Places Award

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 and habitat that make our state so special.

This year’s 2021 Special Places Award honoree is Reid Hughes for his vision and advocacy for the creation of parks and preserves that will be enjoyed for generations to come. A resident of Northeast Florida, Hughes championed the conservation of Volusia County's Spruce Creek, Rose Bay, and the Tomoka River, donating his time and money to protect our state's aquifer.

Hughes served on the Boards of the St. John's River Water Management District, the Florida Development Commission, the Everglades Foundation, the Florida Environmental Education Foundation and the Sierra Club, and received many distinguished awards. He was a member of the Volusia Forever Advisory Committee and helped purchase and preserve nearly 62,000 acres of important ecological lands in Volusia and Flagler counties alone. He was a board member of Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, and Chair of the Florida Nature Conservancy.

But arguably Hughes’s biggest environmental accomplishment was his advocacy to establish Preservation 2000, a $3 billion, statewide conservation program - which began Florida’s commitment to land conservation that is embodied in the Florida Forever program today.

Reid Hughes passed away in 2021. His environmental legacy will live on in these special places and the future generations that enjoy them.

Click here to learn more.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Volunteers have been at the heart of Audubon since its founding, when volunteers banded together to end the slaughter of the Everglades’ wading birds and advocate for sweeping protections for birds that continue today. Each year, Audubon Florida recognizes a Volunteer of the Year for their contributions to Audubon and conservation.

This year,  Audubon recognizes Joan Dunn as Volunteer of the Year for her work at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples. Since her first volunteer assignment at the Sanctuary in 2007, she has been a loyal and passionate supporter of conservation and has contributed more than 9,400 volunteer hours. Dunn engages with guests through interpretation and ensures everyone gets off the boardwalk safely before the Blair Audubon Visitor Center closes for the day. She has served as a Boardwalk Naturalist, Boardwalk Closer, Day Captain, Ghost Orchid Specialist, Community Science Surveyor, and has provided support for special events, including After-Hours. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary protects more than 13,000 acres of the Western Everglades and welcomes 100,000 visitors annually to its 2.25-mile boardwalk.

Click here to learn more.

Distinguished Philanthropist of the Year Award

Audubon Florida would not be able to deliver much needed conservation results for our state without the generous support of our donors. Each year, we recognize a Philanthropist of the Year, celebrating the spirit of generosity that makes this work possible.

This year, Audubon Florida recognizes Carol Timmis as our 2021 Distinguished Philanthropist.

As a longtime member and current Vice Chair of the Audubon Florida Board of Directors, Timmis has been a conservation leader for nearly 30 years. She brings sophistication and expertise honed during her finance career to bear on her conservation work, supporting Audubon advocacy and science with her own gifts, while recruiting others to the cause. Carol founded and chairs the Development Committee of Audubon Florida’s Board of Directors and is a thought leader among her peers, elevating philanthropy and fundraising in service to conservation.

Her love for Roseate Spoonbills encouraged her to help sponsor the deployment of a satellite tracker on a Roseate Spoonbill by our Everglades Science team to trace the birds’ movements. 

Click here to learn more.

Audubon Florida’s 2021 Assembly illustrated how we can work to make birds and the places they need more resilient by embracing Natural Climate Solutions. The event was generously sponsored by Darden Restaurants, Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light Co., and Vortex Optics. Find more information at

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