LWF announces conservation awards winners

Louisiana bluesman and conservation advocate Tab Benoit has been chosen to receive the Louisiana Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Award – Conservationist of the Year for 2009.

The award will be presented Feb. 27 at a banquet held in conjunction with the Wildlife Federation’s 71st convention scheduled for Feb. 26-28 at Cypress Bend Resort on Toledo Bend Reservoir near Many, Louisiana.

The Governor’s Award is presented annually to the person or organization deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution toward the protection and wise use of the state’s natural resources from among nominees submitted by the public. The selection for this and seven other awards was made by a panel of independent judges with expertise in a wide range of conservation fields.

Benoit, born in Baton Rouge but raised in Houma, is an internationally-acclaimed musician and band leader who has used the stage and his music to convey the urgency and meaning of Louisiana’s rapid land loss to a national audience. Benoit established the nonprofit Voice of the Wetlands Foundation to support outreach and education about Louisiana’s wetland loss, and to advocate action. Later he enlisted fellow musicians for the loose-knit Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars band, amplifying the coastal restoration message. Individually and with the VOW All-Stars he continues to speak out and garner support for the serious business of rebuilding a sustainable Louisiana Coast.

Three other individuals and four organizations also will be recognized by the Federation for outstanding conservation achievements last year. They are:

• Scott A. Angelle of Breaux Bridge, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, for his guidance and leadership in the restructuring and implementation of the new Atchafalaya Basin Program.

• Charles R. Caillouet, Jr. of Prairieville, president of the Friends of the Atchafalaya, for organizing and implementing an ambitious program of outreach and activities to involve citizens in the enjoyment and conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin;

• The 6th, 7th & 8th-graders of the Lafayette Middle School Environmental Science Academy for recycling and habitat and species restoration projects.

• Bob’s Tree Preservation Company for establishing the annual “Acorns of Hope” bicycle ride and community education program with the commitment of donating and planting 10,000 native live oaks over a 5-year period to restore hurricane-damaged habitat along the Louisiana coast.

• Frank C. Rohwer, Ph.D of Baton Rouge, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Louisiana State University for the comprehensive, student focused, results-oriented instruction and mentoring by which he is educating the next generation of America’s wildlife scientists and conservation professionals.

• The LSU AgCenter for its new series of educational videos, “Wet Work,” produced to catch the attention of middle- and high-school students and pique their interest in conservation and natural resource management work.

• The LSU Coastal Roots Program for its school-based, student-teacher collaboration in growing and planting trees, grasses and other plant species to restore habitat and storm-buffering capacity to the land along Louisiana’s coast.