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Audubon’s Women in Conservation Luncheon Honors Nalini Nadkarni and Fran Raymond Price with Rachel Carson Award

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NEW YORK (May 9, 2024) – On Wednesday the National Audubon Society celebrated the legacy of female leadership in conservation by presenting two women with the Rachel Carson Award at the 21st Women in Conservation Luncheon. The prestigious Audubon award recognizes visionary women whose dedication, talent, and energy have advanced positive environmental change locally and on a global scale. This year’s event focused on forest conservation and honors two leaders in the movement: Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, professor emeritus at the University of Utah, and Fran Price, Global Forest Practice Leader at WWF International.

“Audubon is proud to honor these leaders in forest conservation with the 2024 Rachel Carson Award,” said Elizabeth Gray, CEO of the National Audubon Society. “Dr. Nadkarni and Mrs. Price embody the spirit of this award and the future of conservation with their important work protecting forest ecosystems and developing innovative programs that address the interconnected crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss. Their work is invaluable to Audubon as we put the full power of our hemispheric organization behind impactful climate solutions to protect birds, people, and the planet.”

The 21st Women in Conservation Luncheon was emceed by NBC News’ Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson and held at Bryant Park Grill in Manhattan. 

“I feel amazed and honored to be included with this group of women whose thinking and actions have so enhanced our relationships with nature,” said Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, ecologist and professor emeritus at the University of Utah. “In the midst of growing worry about our planet, this award celebrates – with joy and purpose! – the many ways we can act collectively for conservation.”

“Growing up amidst the riparian forests in my backyard in central New Jersey, forests have been central to my life since childhood. The solace and peace that my little piece of woods and stretch of stream provided profoundly shaped my identity,” said Fran Price, Leader, Forest Practice, WWF International. “Forests aren’t just integral to my life. They lie at the core of humanity’s quest to find balance on this precious planet. They are at the heart of addressing the climate crisis, the nature crisis, and even the human health crisis – from preventing pandemics to supporting mental health. There’s a lot of work to do to develop economic and social systems that enable and prioritize long-term planetary well-being, keep our forests resilient, and empower those who depend directly on our forests. This mission fuels my dedication to forest conservation. I firmly believe that collective action can lead us to solutions that ensure people live in harmony with nature, safeguarding the legacy and benefits of forests for generations to come.”

Photo: Paola Chapdelaine

Photo: Paola Chapdelaine

Photo: Paola Chapdelaine

Photo: Paola Chapdelaine

Photo: Paola Chapdelaine

About the AwardeesDr. Nalini Nadkarni is known as the “Queen of the Forest Canopy.” Four decades ago, she helped pioneer the use of mountain-climbing techniques, construction cranes, and hot air balloons to explore life in the treetops of Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest. Since then, supported by 40 grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and foundations, her long-term rainforest studies in Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest have led to over 150 scholarly publications and three books. Her academic awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the AAAS Award for Public Engagement, the National Science Foundation Award for Public Service, the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation, The Leonardo Award for Interdisciplinary and Creative Scholarship, and the William Julius Wilson Award for Achievement in Social Justice.

The urgent need to protect forests and other elements of nature inspired Dr. Nadkarni to forge innovative collaborations with people in sectors far outside academia, including faith-based groups, artists, and corporations. She initiated programs to bring science lectures, ecological restoration projects, and nature imagery to men and women in correctional institutions, providing ways for them to help protect biodiversity. She innovated a science engagement training program to guide emerging scientists to engage the public in community venues where people live, work, recreate, and worship. 

Dr. Nadkarni is also a passionate nature communicator. Her media work includes two TED talks, television programs (Bill Nye the Science Guy, CNN’s The NEXT LIST), National Public Radio (Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, RadioLab, Science Friday), podcasts, and popular media (New York Times, National Geographic, Ranger Rick, Playboy Magazine). She advised Mattel, Inc. on their 2021 line of “Explorer Barbies”, and they created a one-of-a-kind “TreeTop Barbie” in her image. In 2023, the National Geographic Society named her as one of their ten “Explorers at Large.”

Fran Raymond Price has spent her career working to protect forests and improve forestry around the globe. She joined WWF in June 2020 after 18 years at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), where she helped guide the organization’s adoption and promotion of responsible forest management and certification.

Fran helped bring forest carbon finance to smaller forest owners in the United States, most recently by assisting the development and launch of the Family Forest Carbon Program. Her work has focused on the creation, improvement, and proliferation of market-based incentives – such as the alignment of forest carbon investment and certification and strengthening of forest certification standards — to protect forest eco-systems.

Fran has served on several boards and task groups, including the FSC International board (2013-2019) as Vice Chair from 2017 to 2019; FSC US board; the Tropical Forest Foundation board; High Conservation Value Resource Network Steering Group; and WWF’s North American Forest and Trade Network Advisory Group. She also serves on the boards of organizations near her home, including the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Sustainable Princeton. Fran also runs a small family foundation focused primarily on environmental issues.

Before joining TNC, Fran directed the Forest Monitoring Project, hosted by the Izaak Walton League of America, where she evaluated forest practices on industry lands throughout the U.S. Prior to this she helped coordinate philanthropic investments in forests and renewable energy at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Fran holds a master’s degree in forestry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a B.A. in History and Government from Cornell University. She began her forestry career as a Peace Corps community forestry volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

About Audubon Women in ConservationEstablished in 2003 in honor of Rachel Carson, author and monumental figure of the modern environmental movement, Audubon Women in Conservation strives to recognize the female environmental leaders who change our world and inspire the next generation of young women who will join them in environmental careers and activism. Proceeds from the Audubon Women in Conservation luncheon support Audubon’s efforts, including our Long Island Sound and Coastal Stewardship Program and the Audubon Women in Conservation Internship. For more information, visit events.audubon.org/WIC

About Audubon The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters. North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety. 

Media Contact: Megan Moriarty, [email protected] 

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