Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center

Conservation Action Prize


Call for Nominations

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


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.