Conservationist of the Year Award

Periodically, Nature Conservancy staff and trustees select an individual who has made a significant impact on conservation in Massachusetts.


The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts created the Conservationist of the Year award in 2005 to recognize the efforts of conservation leaders in conserving the Bay State’s lands and waters. Periodically, Nature Conservancy staff and trustees select an individual who has made a significant impact on conservation in Massachusetts.

Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton) earned the 2014 Conservationist of the Year Award. “Senator Pacheco has helped make Massachusetts a national leader on climate change," said Wayne Klockner, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. "He has led the charge on laws to reduce greenhouse gases and plan for climate change impacts." Senator Pacheco has led multiple legislative efforts for the Commonwealth’s funding and policy for a robust environmental bond and sustainable infrastructure for coastal and inland flooding that weave together the triple-bottom-line: conserving natural resources, reducing risks to the public and avoiding costs for municipalities. He has also collaborated on issues important to his communities such as the removal of obsolete and unsafe dams and funding for watershed studies. Read the full release about the award.

Prior honorees include:

2013: Scott Jackson, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Professor Jackson has championed wildlife and river health across the Commonwealth, acting as a leader to minimize the impact of culverts, bridges and road-stream crossings on wildlife ranges and movement. He co-led the statewide “Critical Linkages” connectivity assessment completed in 2013 by the UMass Landscape Ecology Program, which addresses the impact of these structures on wildlife movement and viability, while maintaining a safe and reliable transportation infrastructure.

2012: Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts. Under Gov. Patrick's leadership, Massachusetts has: conserved among the highest land area of any governor; supported policies to protect and restore our water resources; and led on climate change policy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions with an aggressive state plan and consistent support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

2010: Mary Griffin, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. Commissioner Griffin has been an outstanding ally and advocate on many conservation policy and programmatic issues, including climate change adaptation, freshwater streamflow standards, land protection, endangered species conservation, and shellfish and seagrass restoration.

2008: Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Secretary Bowles has worked diligently to increase public support of a broad diversity of environmental policy and resources. As a result of his tireless teamwork with the Administration, Legislature and environmental community, more environmental laws were enacted during the past legislative session than any in recent memory.

2008: Bernie McHugh, Volunteer Coordinator, Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition. McHugh has been the unpaid/volunteer coordinator for the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, the member organization that coordinates, and serves the land trust community in Massachusetts. His dedication to communication and service to the land trust community has provided key tools to developing and harnessing grassroots support.

2007: Henry Woolsey, Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. The MNHESP, under Henry’s Leadership has, more than any other natural heritage program, realized the potential to use accurate biodiversity data to protect important places.

2006: Rep. John Olver, 1st District Congressman. “Congressman Olver is a stalwart leader, reliable partner, and committed conservationist,” said Wayne Klockner, Massachusetts state director of The Nature Conservancy. “We deeply appreciate our partnership with the Congressman and with his exceptional and professional staff.”

2005: Robert O’Connor, Director of Land and Forest Conservation for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. The Chapter selected O’Connor for his work to improve the state’s forestry practices and habitat protection on 500,000 acres of state lands. Under O'Connor's leadership in 2004, Massachusetts earned the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) “green certification” designation for all state owned lands where forestry is practiced.


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