Virginia Conservation Network Honors State's Environmental Leadership

The Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) recognized Marie W. Ridder, Edward E. Clark, Jr., and the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), for their contributions toward improving Virginia's environment. At its annual dinner in Richmond, VCN continued its tradition of celebrating the work of individuals and organizations making a difference on conservation causes in the Commonwealth. "With these awards, we recognize the life-long efforts of Marie Ridder and Ed Clark in making Virginia a better place to live," said VCN President, Martha Wingfield. "And all of us working in the conservation community benefit from VPAP's efforts to open up the political process. The work of talented people and organizations like these are a reason for celebration and optimism." Marie W. Ridder of McLean is the recipient of the 2006 Blue Ridge Award, VCN's highest award. Ms. Ridder is a member of the Executive Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and has served on the board of many other conservation organizations that are members of VCN. Her work reaches to the early environmental efforts in Virginia, from her service as the first Chair of the Virginia Council on the Environment and as Chair of the Virginia State Parks Commission. Ms. Ridder also worked as a journalist and editor for a variety of national publications. Edward E. Clark, Jr. of Waynesboro was awarded the Scarlette Award for his decades of work on behalf of Virginia's wildlife and wilderness. Mr. Clark founded the Wildlife Center of Virginia, from which he has gained international recognition for his wildlife conservation and education work. His early work also reaches to the Virginia Council on the Environment and numerous appointments by three Virginia Governors to a number of commissions and boards. He also has served on the boards of nearly twenty national and international conservation organizations. This award is named in honor of Mr. Clark's red tailed hawk and educational collaborator, Scarlette. VCN presents its 2006 Dogwood Award to the Virginia Public Access Project, accepted by David Poole, VPAP's executive director. The Dogwood Award is given to the non-profit or government agency that has made a significant contribution to protecting Virginia's environment. VPAP was founded by a number of news organizations in Virginia to provide open, objective, and easily accessible information on donations and expenditures by political candidates in the state. This open access to information creates greater political accountability for the officials making important decisions about Virginia's environmental laws. Also recognized at the 2006 Annual Dinner celebration in Richmond were keynote speakers Jerome Ringo, Chair of the National Wildlife Federation and Mark Tercek, Managing Director for Corporate Citizenship at Goldman, Sachs & Company. The Virginia Conservation Network is Virginia's only statewide network of conservation organizations and has over 115 member groups from across Virginia. VCN is also the state affiliate for the National Wildlife Federation. John Eckman presenting to Ed Clark