The Delaware Wetland Warrior Award is presented to those who have demonstrated exemplary efforts to benefit Delaware wetlands in the areas of outreach and education, monitoring and assessment, or restoration and protection.
There are currently two categories for the award:
The education category is awarded to a K-12 or college student, classroom or educator that has worked tirelessly to promote the value of wetlands in an educational setting.
The professional category is awarded to a citizen, organization or business that has gone above and beyond to protect Delaware’s wetlands through research or on the ground practices. This award is given out biennially at the Delaware Wetlands Conference, the next one will be held in 2024.
Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. To nominate someone, please send the following information to Olivia Allread.
A 150- to 300-word statement that identifies the efforts the nominee has undertaken to benefit Delaware’s wetlands.
First and Last Name
First and Last Name
Mike won this award for his work with the marsh restoration at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge where he went above and beyond expectations and was so pivotal to the project’s success. Although he has been content to remain behind the scenes these last nearly 10 years, Mike has had an invaluable role in many phases of the marsh restoration project.
Over his career, Tom has worked on more than 300 wetland improvement projects restoring or enhancing thousands of acres statewide. He called for the installation of more than 80 water control structures to maintain hydrology and has planted thousands of trees, shrubs and wetland plants. His work included sampling of these project sites to determine how they are improving water quality.
For 10 years, fifth grade teacher Pamela Vanderwende has led the Conservation Club at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Bridgeville, focusing on educating students on the importance of conservation and caring for our environment. Pam has raised more than $80,000 for outdoor projects on school property which serve as outdoor classrooms.
Sharing this year’s Wetland Warrior Award in the education and outreach category are Robin and Patti, both of whom recently retired from teaching fifth grade in the Appoquinimink School District. For the past 13 years, Robin and Patti dedicated their teaching careers to promoting the benefits of wetlands in their classrooms and by making use of the resources available at DNREC’s Aquatic Resources Education Center near Smyrna. Through outdoor and hands-on learning activities, they have encouraged hundreds of students to appreciate and care for Delaware’s wetlands, leaving a legacy of young Delawareans well-prepared to act to protect our wetlands for years to come.
Bart has spent his career working with state and federal agencies and non-governmental and private sector organizations to promote wetland restoration and water quality improvements across Delaware. He has worked on numerous committees and task forces, water quality best management practices (BMPs), living shoreline projects, and performed outreach and education to the general public. Currently, Bart works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, managing the largest combined shoreline and marsh restoration project ever to occur in the State of Delaware at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton.
Doug has dedicated most of his career to protecting and educating people about wetlands. Starting in 1989 he was performing high-end ecological risk assessments, delineations, and wetland mitigation designs for the Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge near Wilmington. From 2000-’06 he was with the Regulatory Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), where he managed every USACE wetland violation case in the State of Delaware, resolving hundreds of wetland violations. Over the past decade, in addition to his innovative work with stream restoration and fish passage, Doug has been a forerunner in the outreach and technical development of living shorelines for the protection of Delaware’s coastal systems.
The Draper family are examples of exemplary voluntary land-owner stewards over one of Delaware’s most ecologically valuable wetlands, Coastal Plain Ponds, also known as Delmarva Bays. Over the years, Tom Draper and his son Hank have been very active in managing these wetlands, and are ever-interested and knowledgeable in the ecology of their special sites. The rare plant populations that live in their Coastal Plain ponds remain stable; they have allowed access for researchers; they have adopted the use of buffers around these wetlands, and they have made sure the essential hydrology of their Coastal Plain ponds remains unchanged. Additionally, the Drapers remain open and active in improving wetland habitat where needed. The Draper family manages these unique wetlands to maintain the ecology that protects rare plant and animal species that are dependent on these specified conditions, and their work is a testament to their dedication as wetland stewards.
Marlene has dedicated the last 25 years of her career to the Delaware Adopt-A-Wetland Program from it’s humble beginnings in 1989, to the more than 120 site program that it is today. Beginning as a volunteer in Sussex County she transitioned a few years back into the statewide coordinator. Due to her dedicated leadership the program not only grew in size, but also in the quality and quanitity of educational resources and support the program provides. The Adopt-A-Wetland program would not be what it is today with Ms. Mervine’s deication and leadership.
With over 25 years of experience as an educator and a research scientist, Dr. Kreeger leads PDE’s science team’s efforts to restore and protect Delaware wetlands. She is a trained shellfish and wetland ecologist and has held positions at Plymoth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom and as curator for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She currently leads the PDE science team in all of their efforts including wetland monitoring, Living Shoreline installaion, fresh water mussel surveys, and more. In addition to this work she continues to give lectures and lead courses at regional universities on ecology, zoology, and environmental assessments.
In addition to Dr. Kreeger’s work to protect Delaware wetlands we would also like to recognize the entire science team at PDE. Under her leadership the team works to protect and restore wetlands all across Delaware and into New Jersey. This year alone they installed four new living shorelines that amount to over two football fields in length. These shorelines use natural materials to not only stabilize the shoreline from erosion effectively maintaining and restoring our coastal marshes, but also provide habitat for our coastal species.
Mick was a true naturalist; he was knowledgeable about nearly everything from macroinvertebrates to mammals, and especially, herpetology, which was his real passion. His other passion was environmental education and he volunteered countless hours of his own time to set up tables at local events with his live critters, or programs starring his critters, for the public good. But that’s not all he did; he also volunteered his time and knowledge to other DNREC programs such as Adopt-A-Wetland, where he helped to coordinate the program and gave training presentations to participants over many years. He was a Recognized Qualified Bog Turtle Surveyor for the states of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania and often volunteered his time to monitor known Bog Turtle colonies and to manage their habitats. He is dearly missed by everyone who had the opportunity to interact with him.
While teaching at Wesley he inspired his students to be environmental stewards, including assisting the schools environmental club to monitor a local wetland at Brecknock Park. After retiring he took up a post as the Kent County Volunteer Coordinator for DNREC’s Adopt-A-Wetland Program. Not only did he encourage others to restore and protect wetlands, but recently preserved a 10-acre forested wetland site in the Choptank River watershed with his family.
An active volunteer with the Delaware Ducks Unlimited Appoquinimink Chapter for more than 25 years and has served in numerous local and national roles. Currently, he sits on the Ducks Unlimited National Youth and Education Committee. Through their generous donations and fundraising for Delaware Ducks Unlimited through the years, Clif and his wife Sue have made conservation a family effort.
As a biologist and program manager for more than 25 years he has dedicated his career to innovative planning and funding tools to improve the management and protection of wetlands in the state. He has also provided support to outreach and education initiatives including Thank You Delaware Bay. As an active hunter and member of Ducks Unlimited, he has created wetland habitat on his 40-acre farm as a demonstration site for others.
Since 1992, Lehman has led projects that created 170 acres of shallow water wetland areas distributed throughout several wildlife management areas under his supervision. These wetlands provide critical habitat to a variety of wetland wildlife species many of which are listed as species of conservation concern.
The Workman brothers are fourth generation Sussex County farmers who operate almost 3,000 acres of cropland, with corn, soybeans and wheat as their primary crops. In 2010, they restored 26 acres of forested wetlands on their farm near Georgetown through the USDA’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).
Pete served as interim director of Delaware Wild Lands Inc., a non-profit charitable corporation dedicated to purchasing lands for preservation, management, and protection in Delaware.
Al Rizzo restored thousands of acres of degraded wetlands and former wetlands, educated the public on the value of wetlands and trained other scientists on innovative techniques.
Indian River School District Outdoor Education Center at Ingram Pond improved the future for protection of wetlands in Delaware by education thousands of students annually on the values of wetlands while performing hands-on monitoring for water quality, studying wildlife interactions and exploring ecosystem dynamics.