Fran Harty will receive the George B. Fell Award, the Natural Areas Association’s (NAA) highest honor, during the group’s annual conference in Chicago, Oct. 1 - 4. The award recognizes an individual’s contributions to research, methods, education or policy that advance knowledge in the identification, protection and stewardship of natural areas.
Harty, The Nature Conservancy in Illinois’ Special Projects Director, was selected as this year’s winner having served as an advocate for land management best practices, a leader in invasive species abatement and reduction, and an innovator among conservation fundraising and volunteerism.
During his 35 years at the Conservancy and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Harty helped establish the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie; helped secure $1 million to sustain the volunteer program at Midewin through an endowment fund; co-founded the Prairie State Conservation Coalition, which assists land trusts, landowners and communities in protecting land and water in Illinois; and assisted in the writing and passage of the Illinois Prescribed Burning Act.
“Fran’s our fountain of knowledge at TNC about natural area preservation in Illinois,” said Bob Moseley, director of conservation at the Conservancy. “He’s a one-stop shop for the history of the movement in the state and where the next priorities are in protecting and restoring our prairies and savannas.”
Harty recalls having dinner with George Fell many years ago near Oregon, Ill. and asking how he managed to achieve so much.
“He said to me, ‘I don’t have any abilities that anyone else doesn’t have. The things that helped me most were persistence and the faith that things can get done.’”
Humbled by the peer-nominated award, Harty adds his own wise words to the conservation movement saying, “After 35 years I have learned the four things that get things done in conservation: good science, passion, politics and press.”
Among many other achievements, Harty served as a board member and president (1989-1993) of the NAA and was lead author of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Residency Program.
The awards dinner will be held Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, Sauganash Ballroom from 6 – 9 p.m.
The Natural Areas Association Conference, Conservation Coming Home, is co-hosted by Chicago Wilderness.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.