NatureServe Conservation Award
The NatureServe Conservation Award recognizes the achievements of a key individual or organization who, through their actions or example, has advanced public understanding and appreciation of biodiversity conservation, and thus helped to advance NatureServe’s mission.
Nominees have significantly raised the public profile of the importance of biodiversity conservation, exhibited innovation and creativity in their approach and impact, and demonstrated leadership in advancing science-based conservation. They instill in others a respect for scientific information and provide inspiration to take action toward conserving biodiversity.
Nominations are solicited from throughout the entire NatureServe network. The recipient is selected by a committee comprised of NatureServe staff, Board members, member program representatives, and an independent regional voice identified by the rest of the committee.
2010 Honoree: Bob Jenkins
Robert E. Jenkins, Ph.D., was selected as the first-ever recipient of the NatureServe Conservation Award. The award was presented to Jenkins at Biodiversity Without Boundaries 2010 in Austin, Texas.
More than 35 years ago, Jenkins had a vision of establishing biological inventories founded on sound science and common methodology, and using those inventories to guide conservation action. As vice president for science at The Nature Conservancy in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Jenkins made that vision a reality. He transformed the methods by which TNC established land protection priorities and guided the creation of a biological inventory of the United States, introducing heightened scientific rigor to TNC’s land acquisition choices. He created the foundation of natural heritage methodology: the concept of an element occurrence, the coarse filter/fine filter concept (communities and species), and the 1–5 multiscale ranking system still used today. He designed six generations of database management systems, the sixth of which, the Biological and Conservation Data system (BCD), won the 1993 Smithsonian-Computer World award in natural resources. Jenkins and his team, which included Keith Carr, Hardy Whiting, Bob “Chip” Chipley, Loring Schwarz, Larry Master, Larry Morse, Jack White, and Rob Solomon, with much assistance from John Humke, established natural heritage programs throughout the entire United States and parts of Canada under his tenure.
Today, the natural heritage programs Jenkins helped create, and others that have been added in their model since, form the NatureServe network. These sophisticated databases provide the most complete information about the existence and location of rare and threatened species and natural communities in the Western Hemisphere. The natural heritage methodology Jenkins guided has become a professional standard, adopted by numerous partner organizations, government agencies, and universities. Representing approximately 800 of the finest natural history scientists and resource and information managers in the business, the NatureServe network is a leading source for informing today’s biodiversity conservation efforts at local, regional, national, and international scales. Jenkins’ bulldog determination inspired many people to make a similar personal commitment to the endeavor—without his strength of purpose and hard work, it is unlikely that this community of dedicated natural heritage biologists and data managers we know today would have developed over the past thirty years.
Jenkins’ innovative approach to conservation has withstood the tests of time and application. The combination of his vision, intellect, and fortitude in the face of many challenges was key to his success. His demonstrated leadership and dogged efforts to forge an expansive network of programs that employ standard methodology has transformed conservation action, and will continue to provide reliable and relevant biodiversity information for the indefinite future.
View Jenkins’ speech at the conference.