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JSC Development and Alumni Director Wins Award

CVPS Presents First Zetterstrom Environmental Award

April 27, 2010

MONTPELIER, VT – Johnson State College Development and Alumni Relations Director Sally Laughlin, a leading wildlife advocate and scientist whose work was instrumental in restoring three species of endangered birds in Vermont, was presented the first CVPS-Zetterstrom Environmental Award on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at a Statehouse ceremony.

The award, named for famed osprey advocate Meeri Zetterstrom, includes a $2,500 cash award to support further environmental work.

“As we considered more than a dozen nominees, Sally Laughlin’s tenacity, focus and strength reminded many of us of Meeri, who exhibited tremendous determination and grace,” CVPS President Bob Young said. “They have both demonstrated a love for Vermont and its wildlife that few can match, and a willingness to go to great lengths to protect and assist birds, for their sake and ours.”

“I knew and admired Meeri, who provided a wonderful example for those of us who love birds and other wild creatures,” Laughlin said. “I am honored to be the first recipient of the CVPS-Zetterstrom Award, which will perpetuate Meeri’s memory in a way that continues to benefit Vermont.”

Laughlin was selected by a committee of CVPS employees with environmental responsibilities. Environmental Affairs Manager Tim Upton said Laughlin stood out in a strong field of nominees.

“Sally has not only done great things for Vermont wildlife, she’s done them on a continuing basis over several decades,” Upton said. “Everyone on the selection committee was impressed by her commitment.”

Laughlin, who co-founded the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences, directed Vermont’s first Breeding Bird Atlas, chairs the Friends of Green River Reservoir and has served for 29 years on the Vermont Endangered Species Committee, asked that the cash prize go to the Lewis Creek Association. Laughlin supports the LCA and the Monkton Conservation Commission, which are creating safe road passages for amphibians in Addison County. Steve Parren, a Monkton resident and rare species biologist for the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, nominated Laughlin for the award.

Laughlin helped develop endangered species recovery plans for ospreys, loons and peregrine falcons, the only three bird species to be removed from Vermont’s endangered species list.

“It was Sally’s commitment to conservation, and her drive, that got many of us started on recovery plans,” Parren said. “Like Meeri, Sally remained committed to conservation efforts even when it felt like she was swimming against the tide. She was willing to prod officials if she thought they could do better. In many ways, Sally and Meeri were cut from the same cloth. They both saw what was needed, and would not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The CVPS-Zetterstrom Environmental Award will be presented annually to one person, business, group or non-profit organization to honor a significant contribution to Vermont’s environment. Its namesake inspired CVPS and countless Vermonters through her dogged efforts to protect and restore Vermont’s osprey population. CVPS announced the creation of the award late last year, just months before Zetterstrom passed away.

Zetterstrom’s foresight prompted CVPS and the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife to wage an extensive campaign, starting in 1988, to assist ospreys at Lake Arrowhead. Artificial nesting platforms, buffer zones and educational materials were created to provide the birds a fighting chance. It paid off in 1998, when the first osprey chick in memory hatched and fledged at Lake Arrowhead. Ospreys have successfully hatched there every year since. In 2005, the osprey, loon and peregrine falcon were removed from Vermont’s endangered species list.

Tony Stevens, Zetterstrom’s closest friend, said Meeri was honored by the creation of the award, and would have applauded Laughlin’s selection. “Meeri had little patience for bureaucracy but a deep respect for the natural world and those who work on its behalf,” Stevens said. “I’m sure she would be pleased to know that Sally was the first winner.”