Local Scientists Inspired by Innovative Conservation Legacy

First recipients of Deborah MacKenzie Award for Innovation Named

JACKSON, WY | December 10, 2012

The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming is proud to announce Holly Copeland and Amy Pocewicz are the first recipients of the Deborah MacKenzie Award for Innovation. The award is given to a Nature Conservancy employee or partner who has exemplified a “big picture,” innovative idea with practical follow-through that advances the chapter’s conservation efforts. This award honors the legacy of the late Deborah “Debby” MacKenzie—an individual who cared deeply about Wyoming’s lands and waters and who inspired involvement and instilled passion for conservation results across the state. 

The Nature Conservancy is honoring Copeland and Pocewicz for their vanguard science work on behalf of the greater sage-grouse, which resulted in an important tool for the Conservancy and decision-makers in Wyoming, the region, and at the national level. Working with partners, the two Conservancy scientists used cutting-edge modeling to theoretically site oil and gas wells, housing developments and wind turbines on the land and predict where development overlaps critical sage-grouse habitat. Funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, this work is helping assess the value of conservation efforts, as well as measure the potential effectiveness of policies, such as the Wyoming’s sage-grouse core area policy. 

“I am honored and humbled by this award,” says Pocewicz. “Debby was an inspiration to every one she knew.” Copeland adds: “Her bigger, broader thinking helped moved conservation forward in Wyoming.” 

“Debby was a dear friend of the chapter and a courageous conservation advocate,” says Wyoming’s state director Andrea Erickson. “She set a tremendous example. We hope this award will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.” 

MacKenzie was a founding member of the Wyoming Chapter of the Conservancy and served for many years on its Board of Trustees. As a ranch owner in the Gros Ventre Wilderness outside of Jackson, Wyoming, MacKenzie developed a keen interest in raising awareness of the threats to the Greater Yellowstone area. In particular, she felt it was important to draw attention to the growing threats that were beginning to infringe on the iconic landscape and its wildlife habitat and migration corridors. Her passion and creativity around this topic resulted in the short film “Out of Yellowstone,” which has been viewed by thousands of people.  

“We’re so proud of Debby’s conservation accomplishments across the state,” says David MacKenzie, husband. “When she put her mind to something, she got it done. This award encourages others to do the same.” 

As recipients of the Deborah MacKenzie Award for Innovation, the Lander natives each receive $500 and an overnight stay at Red Rock Ranch, a dude ranch owned by the MacKenzie family.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracey Stone
The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming


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