March 2, 2017 (NEW YORK) -
Audubon Society hosted
its annual Gala last night at Gotham Hall in New York City.
The organization awarded two of the nation's most
prestigious environmental honors: the Audubon Medal and the
Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership. Frances
Beinecke, former president of the Natural
Resources Defense Council, was awarded the Audubon Medal for
her leadership in finding solutions to the biggest
environmental challenges of our time. Nathaniel
P. Reed received
the $100,000 Lufkin Prize for his instrumental role in
shielding Florida's natural resources from today's threats.
The bird-themed evening began with a video
homage to Emmy-winning actress Jane
Alexander and American
Taylor, who co-emceed the evening and highlighted the
conservation legacies of both honorees.
"A paragon of dedication, passion and plain
old hard work, Frances rose through the ranks of NRDC the
hard way- starting out as an intern and working her way up
to become one the first women to head an international
environmental organization," stated Alexander.
"When I was younger, our national bird- the
Bald Eagle- was on the brink of extinction. I never imagined
I would have a chance to see one in the wild. But I didn't
know then what I know now, that Nathaniel Reed was on the
case," said Taylor.
Newly elected Audubon Board Chair Margaret
Audubon President and CEO David
with inspiring remarks and shared their faith in Audubon's
distributed and powerful grassroots conservation network
during the new administration.
"It's certainly an exciting time for
conservation," said Walker. "I say 'exciting' because I
refuse to look at challenges any other way. Fortunately,
Audubon has a long history of meeting challenges with hope
"Audubon has a million members who have
political muscle to create a firewall in D.C.," said Yarnold.
"A network that represents the entire political spectrum,
and that creates opportunity for common ground."
Following dinner, Paul Tudor Jones humorously
introduced the evening's first honoree, Nathaniel P. Reed,
playing on the Senate's vote to confirm former Oklahoma
Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt's nomination faced unprecedented
the environmental community due to his long-standing
ties to the oil and gas industry and his multiple lawsuits against
the agency he now leads.
"In just a moment, I'll be announcing the
winner of the Lufkin Prize, that fantastic prize designed by
Dan to go to those doers of good deeds, thinkers and
fighters, the people actually protecting our natural
resources. Without further ado, the winner is... Scott
Pruitt, EPA. Is Scott here?" Jones teased as an Audubon
staff member jokingly ran up to the stage with another
envelope for Jones to open.
Nathaniel Reed accepted his award to an
applause from the audience after a special video played
recognizing his work. Reflecting on his career documented in
a new memoir, and acknowledging other environmental
pioneers, he shared, "My crystal ball is no clearer than
yours. Will another era of congressional bipartisan
cooperation reoccur? I don't know,none of us can predict
challenges the next era will produce. But I know that I
share with you and millions of fellow Americans the
conviction that stewardship of our country and Mother Earth
will always be a national priority."
The Lufkin Prize was established by Dan W.
Lufkin's family in honor of his love and dedication to
supporting conservation and environmental causes. The prize
is meant to honor individuals who have dedicated their lives
to on-the-ground conservation.
Soon after, Carol Browner, former
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, introduced
the night's Audubon Medal honoree: Frances Beinecke. After
highlighting Beinecke's achievements,
Browner shouted, from one grandmother to another, girl you
still rock!. After a roaring applause, Beinecke shared the
many environmental stewards who inspired her, and the
challenges faced today. She stated, "I accept this award as
a symbol of what the environmental movement and communities
have achieved. We are facing a challenge as never before
with the new administration. It's especially an honor to be
here with Nathaniel Reed, an inspiration to all of us.
Through his work, I learned what the power of persuasion
The Audubon Medal is one of the highest
honors in conservation, awarded only 56 times since 1947.
Past recipients include Rachel Carson, Robert Redford, Ted
Turner, and the Rockefeller family.
The evening welcomed close to 300 guests and
raised over $1.1 million to support the National Audubon
Guests included: David Yarnold, Margaret
Walker, Frances Beinecke, Carol Browner, Nathaniel Reed,
Paul Tudor Jones, Jane Alexander, Lili Taylor, Pete and
Helen McCloskey, Dan Lufkin, David B. Ford, Allison
Rockefeller, Lili Taylor, Anne Thompson, Maurice DuBois,
Rhea Suh, Patrick Noonan and more.
The National Audubon Society protects
birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow,
throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education
and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs,
nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled
wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to
inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in
conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a
world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a
nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.
When: Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Where: Gotham Hall NYC