Audubon Florida is pleased to announce two winners of the 2021 National Audubon Society Charles H. Callison Awards. The Charles H. Callison Awards are given to honor outstanding efforts contributed by staff and volunteers to continue Audubon’s mission for birds and habitat conservation. One award is given to a staff member, and one award is given to a volunteer. This year’s Callison Awards recipients are Paul Gray, Everglades Science Coordinator for Audubon Florida and Jeanne Dubi, President of Sarasota Audubon Society.
Paul Gray, PhD, has been with Audubon for more than 25 years in a variety of areas, including water quality and management, and agricultural best management practices. He has focused on habitat connectivity on public and private lands, water management and quality challenges in the Everglades, and tackled bird conservation issues in the Northern Everglades and Lake Okeechobee watersheds. Gray was recently recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for his work with the Florida Grasshopper Working Group and its efforts to save the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow from extinction. Researchers and managers in the group began a captive breeding program for Florida Grasshopper Sparrows in 2015. The first releases of birds born and raised in captivity occurred in 2019; the released birds have not only survived but are successfully breeding on Central Florida prairie. In 2020, biologists recorded 64 sparrows fledged from wild and captive-bred sparrow nests in the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area.
“Dr. Gray’s deep expertise is matched only by his skill in engaging diverse interests and bringing them to the table,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “He moves fluidly from testifying at a podium, to driving an airboat, to slogging barefoot and gleefully through the wetlands of Central Florida. He makes mountains of dense hydrologic data accessible and even elegant for audiences ranging from decisionmakers to ranchers. His humility, eloquence, and warmth -- paired with a keen intellect and world-class subject matter expertise -- make him the embodiment of what Audubon should be to conservation: a source of pragmatic solutions grounded in strong science to build constituencies for birds and our environment. His career has been and continues to be an act of devotion to birds, Lake Okeechobee, Central Florida’s prairies and floodplains, and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.”