University of the Ozarks' Lynne Slater and Nena Evans took home two of the top honors Saturday at the Arkansas Wildlife Federation's Annual Conservation Awards Banquet, held in Bryant, Ark.
Slater, office manager of the international studies program, was named the recipient of the 2014 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. Evans, a junior biology major from Bergman, Ark., was named the 2014 Student Conservationist of the Year, by the AWF.
Slater is the director of the HAWK Center in Russellville. HAWK (Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters’) was established in 2001 to provide environmental education through the experiences of wildlife rehabilitation.
In citing Slater and the work of HAWK, the AWF awards brochure read: "Taking in injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals from across the state is a daunting task taken on by this 100 percent volunteer, 100 percent donation-funded organization. Under the direction of Ms. Lynne Slater, the organization has grown from caring for a small handful of patients each year to hundreds. Specializing in critical care, Ms. Slater rallied her team and responded to the urgent needs of the first patients from the 2012 Mayflower oil spill and cared for these animals until the paid contractor arrived to take over …Committed to educational outreach, the volunteers don’t stop at providing help through the hotline. Bringing live ambassadors, educators make presentations at local schools, clubs, civic groups, and festivals. With a consistent message of conservation, audiences range in age from 3 to 90, and group sizes from 5 to 800."
Evans is the president of the University’s Planet Club, a student organization whose mission is to promote environmental awareness on campus and beyond. She has taken part in and lead efforts in habitat restoration, tree planting, building bird houses, and trash pickup. Last year, the Planet Club received the Lee Creek Clean-up Stewardship Paddle for having the most volunteers at the annual event.
As the state’s oldest, and one of the largest, conservation organizations, AWF is a leading advocate for the protection, conservation, and responsible management for all of Arkansas’ natural resources.