Navarre resident and photographer Kenny Wilder has received a Lifetime Advocate Award from Audubon Florida, and two other locals residents have also received accolades from the conservation group.
The recognitions took place during an August 12 volunteer gathering at Navarre Beach Marine Park.
“Kenny has an unsurpassed passion for the natural world around him, particularly when it comes to the natural world in the area where he lives,” said Caroline Stahala, Audubon Florida’s shorebird program manager for the Western Florida Panhandle. “He has been involved with the conservation of our nesting seabirds long before I came around to Navarre Beach. In fact, I learned much of the background on the nesting birds in this area from Kenny.”
According to Stahala, Wilder was “instrumental” in helping get speed limits changed to protect the nesting shorebirds.
“His passion is most evident in his photography. You can tell he captures images he loves and most of those are of the unspoiled natural world whether it is the still blue waters of the gulf, pounding surf, a freshly hatched chick or an elegantly soaring Skimmer,” she said. “Thank you, Kenny, for being an unwavering voice for our seabirds and their habitat.”
Additionally, Larry Bennett was recognized as Most Recognized Bird Steward.
“If you have ever driven over the causeway on a busy morning, you may have seen a black truck parked on the side of the road either waving at you with a friendly smile or waving you down to slow down. This would be our very own Larry,” Stahala said. “He has taken it upon himself to get drivers to slow down as they pass the nesting seabird colony during the summer. As much effort as we as an organization put into implementing protective measures, I am sure there would more dead bird without all the work he puts into protecting the nesting Skimmers.”
Finally, Most Vocal Bird Advocated recognition was given to Maggi Roberts.
“I rely heavily on dedicated volunteers for numerous reasons, day-to-day stewarding, posting, fencing repair, following up on reports of activities around nest areas, and emergency action at the sites. Maggi is there day and night when called,” said Stahala. “More importantly, she keeps an ear out for activities occurring in the community that could potentially impact seabirds and their habitats. I regularly get phone calls, texts and emails asking me to check into something going on to make sure activities are not going to have adversely affect our birds. It’s people like Maggi that help us be proactive in our conservation efforts. It’s a lot harder trying to restore habitat than it is to maintain and protect it.”