The Aldo Leopold Foundation is pleased to congratulate former board members Gene E. Likens and J. Drew Lanham on their recent accolades. This spring Likens will receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Earth and Environmental Science from the Franklin Institute, and J. Drew Lanham will receive the Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership from the National Audubon Society. Both are highly respected honors and well-deserved by Likens and Lanham.
Dr. Gene E. Likens
Likens, an ecologist best known for discovering acid rain in North America, will receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal at a ceremony in April. The distinguished awards date back to 1824 and are given to recognize excellence in science and technology. Previous winners include some of the most notable names in science: Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Pierre and Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, to name a few. Luna Leopold, son of Aldo, was also a Benjamin Franklin Medal recipient in 2006.
His discovery of acid rain in North America took Likens and his colleagues around the world to monitor precipitation, eventually revealing industrial emissions as the cause. As an educator, he was impassioned to inform the public and lawmakers of his findings which led to amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990. He also served as an advisor to two New York governors and the governor of New Hampshire, as well as one U.S. president. He was previously awarded the National Medal of Science, presented in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
“Dr. Likens has demonstrated how knowledge, education, and advocacy can converge to truly advance a land ethic,” stated Buddy Huffaker, the Leopold Foundation’s executive director. A long-time supporter and advisor of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Likens has served several terms on the board of directors between 1996 and 2018, helping shape and grow the organization. “It is almost impossible to convey how critical Dr. Likens’s experience as a scientist and growing the Institute for Ecosystem Studies (now the Cary Institute) was to the Leopold Foundation as we developed a mission-driven organization,” shared Huffaker.
J. Drew Lanham, PhD
Likewise, Lanham served an integral role on the foundation’s board of directors. With two consecutive terms spanning 2012-2018, “Dr. Lanham brought an inspiring combination of expertise, energy, and inclusivity to conservation. Speaking to our hearts and our minds, he challenges us all to step up and into caring for all places and all people.”
Lanham will receive the Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership from the National Audubon Society in February. The award recognizes individuals who have dedicated their lives to the environment and “on-the-ground” conservation. The prize was first awarded in 2013 to George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation (and former Leopold Foundation board member) and is expected to become a signature award for conservation innovation.
As an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology, a master teacher, and certified wildlife biologist in the Forest and Conservation Department at Clemson University, Lanham has focused his research on songbird ecology and the impacts of forest management on birds and wildlife. In addition to being an avid birder, hunter, and advocate for all things wild, Lanham writes about his love for nature. His Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature was recently published (Milkweed Editions), and he has written articles and spoken both nationally and internationally on “coloring the conservation movement,” another aspect of his research and work.
Feature photo, top left of Gene Likens at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in 2015 courtesy of Mariel Carr; top right of Drew Lanham lecturing at the Shack during a workshop of the Building a Land Ethic Conference in 2017 courtesy of Ed Lagace.