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Conservation Action Prize

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Previous Recipients of the Conservation Action Prize

The Harris Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis presents the Conservation Action Prize to recognize individuals who are particularly active in the frontline of biological conservation. The award honors individuals intimately involved and successful in seeking solutions to conservation problems, developing conservation strategies, implementing programs that conserve natural resources, habitats and biodiversity, educating the public on issues pertaining to biological conservation, or providing leadership through example. These individuals are rarely recognized publicly for their dedication; yet, their work underpins the day-to-day successes in the conservation of biodiversity and habitats. The prize recognizes conservationists active in Missouri and Illinois as well as those active nationally or internationally.

Previous Recipients of the Conservation Action Prize


Dr. Lincoln Brower, Professor Emeritus, Sweet Briar College, is now in his 59th year of studying the biology of the monarch butterfly. He is recognized with the Conservation Action Prize as a result of 1) his efforts to establish protection for the overwintering grounds of the monarch butterfly in Mexico, 2) for his scientific zeal for this iconic butterfly species that he imparts to others to protect the butterfly, and 3) because he has been little recognized for his contribution. Upon discovery of the wintering grounds, Dr. Brower perceived immediately a conservation problem. Logging of forests on which a majority of North American monarch butterflies depend could endanger the entire species, and forest thinning could be just as harmful because thinning results in an alteration of the microclimate upon which the overwintering butterflies depend. He then worked with local communities, Mexican scientists and government agencies, and an international NGO (WWF) to establish legal protection for overwintering forests. He also recognized early on that the integrity of the protection could only be maintained if local communities were provided the economic means to benefit from the protection of the forests. This has been a challenge, but one that he continues to work to solve. His enthusiasm for his species, based on careful natural history, observation, and experimentation, has revealed numerous relevant facts that have allowed for increased understanding necessary for its protection.  His efforts to protect the species and its unprecedented migration led him to propose that animal migrations in general should be protected as an endangered biological phenomenon. Finally, his zeal for the species, revealed in the popular press and lectures, has inspired numerous scientists and conservationists to follow in his footsteps. He has been recognized twice for his contribution to the conservation of the species, once by a government conservation group in Mexico, and once by a British Conservation foundation. No U.S. or Canadian body has recognized his conservation work to date.

Shortly after the discovery of the overwintering grounds for adults in Mexico, Dr. Brower began pressing the Mexican government to protect the forests sheltering the butterflies from logging. He and his post-doc William Calvert were the first to systematically survey over-wintering grounds (Calvert and Brower 1986) and to describe local microhabitat conditions that assured overwinter survival (Alonso-Mejia et al. 1993, 1997). He enlisted the help of the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico (he and Bill Calvert wrote the first scientifically based assessment and recommendation for protection of overwintering grounds (to WWF 1981). He urged numerous other conservation NGOs, the governments of all three nations (Mexico, US, and Canada) along its migration pathway to protect this butterfly throughout its North American range. This includes pressing three different administrations of the Mexican government to issue proclamations for protection. The 1986 decree led to the establishment of five conservation areas, based on the five locations identified by Calvert and Brower. Dr. Brower was in a number of subsequent international meetings and workshops, sponsored by WWF. As a result in 1999, more than 56,000 ha of forest came under complete or partial protection (Fink and Vane-Wright 2007) as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Missrie 2004). The designers of the Reserve recognized that for the long term sustainability of area, local communities would need to be vested in the survival of the overwintering grounds. As a result, the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund was established in part to promote conservation activities by local communities and to promote economic activities consistent with conservation (Missire 2004). In 2008 the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He has led efforts to both educate local Mexicans in Michoacan (the Mexican state where the overwintering grounds are located) and to empower the conservation-minded individuals to find ways to protect the associated forests. Most recently, he has teamed with colleagues from UNAM in Mexico City, NASA, and students of Sweet Briar College to track the status of monarch forests using GIS. 

Previous awards:

2007 Royal Entomological Society of London Marsh Award for Insect Conservation

2008 National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, Mexico: Reconocimiento a la Conservación de la Naturaleza.

References cited

Alonso-Mejia, A., J. I. Glendinnig, and L.P. Brower. 1993. The influence of temperature on crawling, shivering, and flying in overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico. In. S. B. Malcolm, and M. P. Zalucki (eds.). Biology and Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly, pp. 309-314. Natural History Museum of the Los Angeles County.

Alonso-Mejia, A., Rendon Salinas, E. Montesinos-Patinon, and L. P. Brower. 1997. Use of lipid reserves by monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.) for overwintering in Mexico: implications for conservation. Ecological Applications 7:934-947.

Anderson, J.B. and Brower, L.P. (1996). The fir forest as a thermal blanket and rain umbrella critical to the freeze-protection of overwintering monarch butterflies Danaus plexippus L.(Lepidoptera: Danaidae) in Mexico. Ecological Entomology 21: 107–116.

Brower, L. P. and W. H. Calvert.  1981.  Recommendations for the conserva­tion of overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico.  Report to the World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D. C.  26 August 1981.

Brower, L. P. and S. B. Malcolm.  1991.  Animal migrations:  endangered phenomena.  American Zoologist 31:265-276.

Brower, L. P. and R. M. Pyle. 2004. Interchange of migratory monarchs between Mexico and the western United States, and the importance of floral corridors to the fall and spring migrations. In Conservation and Pollination Biology in North America. Edited by G. Nabhan. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. pp. 167-178.

Calvert, W. H.  and L. P. Brower.  1986.  The location of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus L.) overwintering colonies in Mexico in relation to topography and climate.  Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 40: 164-187.

Calvert, W. H. and L. P. Brower.  1982.  The importance of forest cover for the survival of overwintering monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus, Danaidae).  Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 35: 216-225.

Fink, L.S., and R. I. Vane-Wright. 2007. Lincoln Brower’s European tour. Antenna 31:203-207.

Missrie, M. 2004. Design and implementation of a new protected area for overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico. In: Oberhauser, K.S., and M. J. Solensky, eds. The monarch butterfly, biology and conservation (eds.). Pp. 141-150, Cornell University Press.


 Dr. Robert Marquis and Dr. Lincoln Brower at the Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture held at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, following the presentation of the Conservation Action Prize to Dr. Lincoln Brower


Felipe Cruz, Director of Technical Assistance for the Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos Islands was born on Floreana Island, one of the five inhabited islands in the Galapagos. His interest in the natural history of the Islands began at an early age and he attended the local elementary school until he was twelve when he traveled, for the first time, to mainland Ecuador to continue his education.
Felipe began work as a field assistant with the Charles Darwin Research Station in the early 1980s. His first project on the dark-rumped petrel saved this bird from extinction and has become one of the most successful conservation projects in the Galapagos. He then worked with the Galapagos National Park Service as Head of Protection and later as its Deputy Director.
In 1997, Felipe returned to work for the Charles Darwin Research Station, this time with a focus on the Marine Reserve. His primary role was in conflict resolution aimed at the production and approval of the Special Law for Galapagos. A key component of this law was the extension of the Marine Reserve to forty nautical miles.
He was appointed Technical Director of the Isabela Project which had as its goal, the ecological restoration of the island. Felipe devoted his time to building and supervising the team of hunters working on the eradication of goats from Pinta Island; pigs, donkeys and goats from Santiago Island; and goats and donkeys from Isabela Island. The Isabela Project was ended in June 2006, achieving far more than was planned and is now regarded as a shining example of practical conservation.
In 2006, Felipe started his current position as Director of Technical Assistance for the Charles Darwin Foundation. In this role, he is responsible for the Foundations department that focuses on capacity building within the local community. Felipe is also a member of the General Assembly for the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galpagos Islands.

Whitney R. Harris, Dr. Patricia Parker, Felipe Cruz, Anna Harris and Dr. Graham Watkins at the Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum held at the Saint Louis Zoo on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 following the presentation of the Conservation Action Prize to Felipe Cruz.


Wilford "Wolf" Guindon has devoted himself to the conservation of the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. His love for this area began with his arrival in Costa Rica in 1951 as one of the original Quakers seeking to establish a new life in this peace-loving country. He is a founding member of the Monteverde Conservation League and has been intimately involved in many conservation efforts including working with local farmers to replant trees and create small forests on their farms (bosques en fincas). Wolf worked with George Powell to establish the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and in 1972, transferred the administration of the Reserve to the Tropical Science Center that Wolf joined and later became the coordinator, a position he held from 1974-1984. His rapport with local farmers and landowners facilitated land purchases and the expansion of the reserve. He developed trails and protected the forest from poachers and squatters. Wolf was a founding member of the Monteverde Conservation League in 1986 and participated in negotiations for the land purchases to create the largest private reserve in Costa Rica: El Bosque Eterno de los Nios that surrounds the Cloud Forest Reserve. In 1998, he received awards presented by Costa Rica's President Miguel Angel Rodriguez from the Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia and Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion for "distinguished work in support of and consolidation of the system of National Areas of Conservation." Wolfs knowledge of the natural history of the area is legendary and this has greatly aided conservation efforts, research and education programs. His capacity to work with people, to defuse confrontations and resolve disputes with regard to human dignity and without violence has greatly facilitated the conservation of Monteverde forests. He has championed collaboration among conservation organizations and has been successful in getting people to work towards the common goal of safeguarding biodiversity within the reserves he loves.


Mark Jenkins, Senior Warden, Meru National Park and Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves in Kenya obtained his Diploma in Agriculture from the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, United Kingdom in 1986. He joined the Kenya Wildlife Service in 1989 and, for three years, trained and led a quick response, anti-poaching team operating mainly throughout northeast Kenya and Tsavo National Park. He learned techniques in elephant capture in the Kruger National Park and worked with the Natal Parks Board in South Africa as a conservation team member involved in the safe capture, care and relocation of antelope and rhino. From 1995-1997 he worked in the Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda providing advice on rehabilitation of the park decimated by years of warfare. Prior to accepting his current position, Mark worked in the Niassa Game Reserve in Northern Mozambique rebuilding basic infrastructure and training a ranger force. Meru National Park is recognized nationally as one of the most effectively managed National Parks in Kenya.


Douglas Ladd, Director, Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy (Missouri Chapter) has been involved with conservation planning, natural area assessment, management, restoration, and research for more than twenty-five years, with particular emphasis on vegetation, and fire ecology. Recent work has concentrated on vegetation and fire ecology of mid-western prairies and woodlands, developing assessment and ecological monitoring protocols for terrestrial vegetation, and eco-regional conservation planning. In addition to numerous articles and reports, he is the author of two plant field guides, North Woods Wildflowers and Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers, and co-author of Discover Natural Missouri and Distribution of Illinois Vascular Plants.


Sharon Matola, Director of the Belize Zoo, is an environmental activist and ardent campaigner against ill-advised development projects in Belize. She has created one of the world's most remarkable zoos. In 1982 she was invited to care for the animals to be used in a nature film in Belize. Funding for the film ran out and Sharon, left with the animals, established the Belize Zoo. She has written two children's books about the animals of Belize, and both have become popular throughout the country. She broadcasts a weekly radio program that is conservation-based and has influenced attitudes of children as well as top-level government officials. She has been instrumental in getting laws passed to protect the natural resources of Belize and in 1991, a new 30-acre zoo and its Tropical Education Center opened to the public.