Chevron Conservation Award letter from Wendy O'Neill, Commission on the Adirondacks, honoring Dr. John H. Tanton
STATE OF NEW YORK
COMMISSION ON THE ADIRONDACKS
IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Two City Square Albany, New York 12207
November 30, 1989
I still can remember, the night John Tanton came to my church youth group and spoke to us about his work in population control. At the time I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. John also spoke of his decision to move north to be in an area where he could work on an environmental problem and make a contribution. This made a major impression on me and I began to consider how I could make a contribution in my own life.
When I was a senior in high school, John Tanton helped my high school with our Earth Day program. He told us all that we needed to think seriously our own uses of resources and that the future would bring about major changes in our lifestyles. Later, during my college years, John helped a group of us organize through the Sierra Club to present our recommendations for the environmental management of Wilderness State Park (in northern Michigan, public hearing. He taught all of us how to combine our efforts and be more effective in presenting the facts we had gathered in our research and field investigations. I still model my efforts in presenting an environmental cause after John's careful approach and methodology.
I watched with great pleasure as John Tanton helped to organize the Little Traverse Conservancy in Petoskey, Michigan. As Usual, John saw a need and while considering the need also realized the tremendous interest in the area for creating a Conservancy ... and did so! Today, this organization, based on my 6 years work experience with The Nature Conservancy, is one of the most effective land trusts in the country. Lest you think this statement comes from local pride, I should tell you that Jean Hocker, Executive Director of the Land Trust Exchange, made a similar statement this summer about the Little Traverse Conservancy.
Since I was 15, John and I have had many conversations about conservation and my interests. He has always been supportive, encouraging and willing, to listen to my concerns. In fact, he even tried to help me figure out how I might eventually be able to buy a house while drawing a non-profit salary so that I could remain in conservation and own a house. John listened with respect when I shared my dream of becoming a full time speaker on environmental protection and gave me a helpful lead.
Today I work as a Natural Resource Specialist for Governor Cuomo's Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. Prior to that I worked for 6 years with The Nature Conservancy in Michigan and New York serving as a land negotiator, ecologist, fund-raiser, lobbyist and program director. John's volunteerism always impressed me and so I have, over the years, made an effort to be involved outside my work as well. Currently, 1 serve on the Natural Areas Association Board and on the Board of Governors for the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources.
I often think back to that winter night when I sat cross legged on the floor of the fellowship room in the First Presbyterian Church and listened to John Tanton speak about his desire to make a contribution to the future of the environment. It was a memorable evening for me that has left a lasting impression and influenced both professional and personal choices in my life.
Thank you for this opportunity to make my recommendation in support of the nomination for Dr. John Tanton to receive a Chevron Conservation Award. If you would like to learn more, don't hesitate to call me. I would be delighted to share more of my experiences with John Tanton. Were it not for him, I might never have learned about the importance of preserving the environment in the late '60's in a town of 6,000 in northern Michigan.
Wendy S. O'Neil