INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Protecting the environment remains a high priority for the Pelican Island Audubon Society.
On Monday night, the agency recognized several individuals for helping to conserve wildlife and protect natural habitats. The awards presentation was held from about 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Vero Beach Community Center, 2266 14th Ave. in Vero Beach.
The agency’s president, Richard Baker, presented different awards to people for their efforts to protect the environment.
Dr. Edith Widder, an internationally renowned deep-sea explorer, was awarded the Maggy Bowman/Conservationist of the Year Award. This award is presented to an individual or organization who has made outstanding contributions in the area of conservation, promoting environmental concerns or educating the general public in regard to local environmental conditions.
In 2005, Widder founded the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, which is a scientific based conservation nonprofit. She has a Bachelor’s degree in biology, a Master’s degree in biochemistry and Ph.D. in neurobiology, according to the association site.
Widder became certified as a scientific research pilot for Atmospheric Diving Systems and holds certifications that qualify her to perform deep diving procedures.
Dr. Dennis Hanisak, a research professor at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, received the Environmental Educator Award. This award usually goes to a teacher, for best promoting an attitude of environmental awareness and understanding among their students.
Hanisak has more than 30 years of experience in marine biology and ecology, with an emphasis on marine plants, according to the university site. He is credited with conducting research on marine plants in the Indian River Lagoon.
Others also received awards at the community center. Donna Halleran, 1st vice-president of the audubon society, received the Special Service Award. George Glenn, corresponding secretary, received the Board Member of the Year Award.
Paul Fafeita and Mark Yanno, of the Coastal Conservation Association Florida, received the Environmental Citizen Award. Barbara Riebe and Ed McCool, volunteers for the Audubon House and ORCA, received the Environmental Landscaping Award.
Bob Montanaro received the President’s Award. Paul Halleran received the Special Appreciation Award.
Frank Sakuma received the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program Appreciation Award. Jeff Piokering received the Indian River Community Foundation Appreciation Award.
For more information about the Pelican Island Audubon Society, visit its website.
Photos by Nick Samuel