The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect and enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries.

By combining policy, landscape-scale conservation efforts, grassroots development and public education, NWRA works to strengthen the ecological integrity of our national wildlife refuges, maintaining the diversity of American wildlife and plants for the future.

Every year the National Wildlife Refuge System Awards, sponsored by NWRA, honor outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers and Friends groups. To say that these honorees are outstanding is an understatement. These people are exceptional! And here they are:

Andy Yuen: The Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award

Andy Yuen, manager of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, has been selected as the recipient of the Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year for his conservation vision and ability to give his staff the space to learn, grow, and ultimately do great work. Yuen began his career in his native Hawaii in 1984 as a Cooperative Education Program student with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1992, Yuen helped to establish the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. Always an out-of-the-box thinker, Yuen was one of the first U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers to provide work experience opportunities for wounded military service members as they transitioned from the military to the civilian workforce. And beyond Yuen’s skill as a manager, his personal touch, communication skills and casual humor are his trademarks for solving complicated issues.

Kenneth McCain: The Employee of the Year Award

Mr. McCain will receive the Employee of the Year Award for his outstanding work as the Federal Wildlife Officer at Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges in Florida and his outspoken passion for the National Wildlife Refuge System’s mission. During a 24-year career on the refuges, his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty and his hands on style of law enforcement have reduced transgressions significantly and saved the government thousands of dollars. A master at identifying illegal activities and unsurpassed with conducting interviews, McCain has gained the utmost respect from the public. He treats everyone with respect, even when administering a stern lesson in conservation and regulations to violators. Thanks to his public relations skills, McCain has inspired people to treat the refuges as if they were their own, and as a result local residents effectively “patrol” the refuges and watch out for rule breakers.

Bob and Sharon Waldrop: The Volunteer of the Year Award

Bob and Sharon Waldrop will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of the more than a decade of service as volunteers at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Carbondale, IL and the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex. The Waldrops have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Refuge System, donating their time and expertise to help refuge staff address emergencies in the face of natural and manmade disasters. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and the BP Oil Spill happened in 2010, the Waldrops arrived on the scene with no hesitation and assisted wherever they were needed, no questions asked. Whether repairing fishing poles at annual fishing rodeos, or talking to visitors at kiosk stations, with each interaction, they are enthusiastic ambassadors of the Refuge System.

Friends of Tualatin River Refuge: The Friends Group of the Year Award

The Friends of Tualatin River Refuge in Sherwood, Oregon will receive the Friends Group of the Year Award for their outstanding efforts working in the Wildlife Center, providing environmental education programs, maintaining the refuge, monitoring birds, and planning and implementing the Tualatin River Bird Festival. Thanks to the Friends of the Tualatin River Refuge, the 17th annual Tualatin River Bird Festival welcomed more than 800 visitors to the refuge this year, despite torrential downpours. The more than 17,000 hours of volunteer time contributed by the Friends in 2013 included hosting nearly 1,900 students and teachers through workshops and field trips. Their Spring Break Exploration Days, Creative Nature Camps, interpretive programs, and informal after school education programs are all designed to teach children first-hand about conservation and their local refuge. In 2013, in recognition of the 20th year of the Friends group, the Mayor of Sherwood proclaimed the city “Home of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge,” recognizing the valuable relationship between the city, the refuge, and the Friends.

For more information about the National Wildlife Refuge System awards and the amazing conservation work done by refuge staff and volunteers, please visit: http://refugeassociation.org/people/awards/2014awards/

The Wildlife Conservation Stamp Project wishes to thank the National Wildlife Refuge Association for their exceptional work on behalf of our National Wildlife Refuge System.

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