Nelson Institute alumna accepts international award on behalf of Wisconsin Wetlands Association

July 30, 2012

Nelson Institute alumna Katie Beilfuss accepted the 2012 Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Education on behalf of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) at a July 6 ceremony in Bucharest, Romania. Beilfuss serves as Outreach Programs Director for the organization.

The Wisconsin Wetlands Association is the first U.S.-based entity to receive this prestigious award from the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, joining previous laureates from 15 other countries including Thailand, Australia, Japan, Kenya, China, Peru and Canada. WWA, established in 1969, is dedicated to the protection, restoration and enjoyment of wetlands and associated ecosystems through science-based programs, education and advocacy.

Nelson Institute alumna Katie Beilfuss accepts the 2012 Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Education
Nelson Institute alumna Katie Beilfuss accepts the
Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Education
on behalf of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association.
Photo credit Ramsar COP11 © Adriana Trandafirescu.

Four of the organization’s six staff members are alumni of the Nelson Institute – Beilfuss (M.S. Land Resources ’01), Kyle Magyera (M.S. Water Resources Management ‘10), Erin O'Brien (M.S. Land Resources ‘03) and Alexia Sabor (M.S. Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development ‘98). 

The Ramsar Conservation Award was established in 1996 to recognize and honor the contributions of individuals, organizations and governments around the world for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It recognizes the best initiative for communication, education, participation and awareness of Ramsar-designated Wetlands of International Importance, focusing on initiatives that engage local communities. The award is accompanied by the Evian Special Prize, a $10,000 cash prize generously donated by the Danone Group of France.

The Wisconsin Wetlands Association was honored for its work to increase the number of wetlands designated as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in Wisconsin and the United States, and for outreach and education programs that promote the ideals of the Ramsar Convention. These include helping people understand what wetlands are and why they matter.

In 2009, WWA established the Wetland Gems program to recognize and promote 100 high-quality wetland sites that represent the diversity of wetlands in Wisconsin. WWA drew upon data-driven conservation planning work completed by its conservation partners to select high quality wetland sites across the state that collectively represent all of Wisconsin’s wetland types. That same year, WWA established the Wisconsin Ramsar Committee and facilitated an expert-driven strategic process to identify 11 priority Gems sites to nominate for Ramsar designation.

WWA’s strategic approach to identify and nominate high-quality wetland sites is now being promoted, through this award and elsewhere, as a model to help states and nations identify and recognize Wetlands of International Importance around the globe.