Cameron student honored with Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship

Cameron University student Eric Beck, a sophomore biology major from Lawton, has been selected to receive an Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship, a new national fellowship designed to advance the work of individuals with outstanding potential to help shape a brighter environmental future. He is one of 40 of the nation's most promising conservationists who were selected for the honor. Awarded by the new conservation alliance of the National Audubon Society and Toyota, Fellows were selected from scores of applicants across the country by an advisory board of environmental leaders.

"I am very proud of Eric," says Dr. Michael Husak, CU Assistant Professor of Biology. "This is a very prestigious and competitive national fellowship that provides recipients invaluable opportunities and experiences, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving. Eric is passionate about conservation and has dedicated himself to educating others about conserving our natural heritage in Oklahoma. Despite only being a sophomore, he has already assisted with and even coordinated a number of projects that are having an impact on bird conservation in Oklahoma, he has designed his own independent research project examining the distribution of marshbirds in western Oklahoma, and he has taken on the role of Coordinator of a state-wide effort to have portions of Oklahoma nationally listed as Audubon Important Bird Areas. I know Eric will take full advantage of what this fellowship has to offer and in turn give back by acting as a true conservation leader in our state."

Fellows were chosen for leadership potential, skills and commitment to engaging communities in conservation action. Each receives a $10,000 stipend and assistance in launching local projects to educate a wide range of communities about the environment and engage them in efforts to conserve land, water and/or energy. Fellows also receive specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work with experienced environmental professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation.

"By sharing my knowledge and experience and working to create opportunities for others involving conservation, I can do my part to plant the seed of knowledge," says Beck. "I truly believe the more that people think about conservation and their impacts on our shared world, the cleaner and safer our world will become."

The CU student will focus his efforts on supporting and expanding the Oklahoma Important Bird Areas program through education and volunteer activities that both create a measurable conservation difference by protecting habitat and encouraging people to enjoy and observe native wildlife, including threatened species like the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the Northern Bobwhite. 

A former field technician for the Sutton Avian Research Center's Lesser Prairie Chicken Project, Beck is the current coordinator for the Oklahoma Important Bird Areas program and has organized many different bird counts, including three Christmas Bird Counts in Atoka County. Additionally, he has dedicated more than 200 volunteer hours to the Oklahoma Important Bird Areas program in the last year and half, achieving designation for two state-level Important Bird Areas. Without Beck's tireless dedication, the Oklahoma Important Bird program - and the habitat and wildlife it protects - would have suffered badly.

Beck has been affiliated with Oklahoma Audubon since 2004. His experience working and volunteering for Oklahoma Audubon inspired him to publish three articles in the Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society.

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December 4, 2008
PR08-217