January 22, 2015 (New York, NY) – The National Audubon Society held their annual Winter Gala last night at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The nonprofit honored two exceptional conservationists: Paul Tudor Jones recipient of the Audubon Medal for his work to preserve the world’s iconic landscapes such as the Everglades, the Western Seregenti and the African Great Lakes. Former U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey, Jr., who shepherded landmark environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, received the prestigious Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership.

Audubon President & CEO David Yarnold emceed the evening, discussing Audubon’s vision and focus for the future, “Audubon, in 2016, is going to continue to work on climate change. We’re going to work on water throughout the U.S. We are going to continue to appeal to the four million people who recognize Audubon as being authentic and local everywhere.” After his inspiring remarks, a video was shown highlighting the on-the-ground advocacy and local work Audubon does to protect bird species, including shorebirds.

Image Source: Paul McKlowskey

Following dinner, Senator Jim Webb introduced the evening’s first honoree: Pete McCloskey, Jr. McCloskey accepted his award to a roaring applause from the audience after a special video played recognizing his work. Reflecting on his career, and acknowledging other stewards of environmentalism, he shared, “What you don’t know is that the environmental movement, until 1970, there weren’t environmentalists in the Congress, there were a few. But Earth Day came, and a bunch of kids decided to take out 12 members of Congress—they called the dirty dozen. These kids got Dan Lufkin to help them, long before he was what he is today. And they turned out seven members of the house—the dirty dozen—two democrats, five republicans. When Congress reconvenes in 1971, what do you find? The Endangered Species Act, clean air, clean water, marine mammals, coastal zone, estuarine protection—so I think we ought to be honoring Dan Lufkin.”

Image Source: Paul McKlowskey

Soon after, Nathaniel Reed introduced the night’s second honoree: Paul Tudor Jones. On stage, Jones discussed the many environmental pioneers who have inspired him, “The one incredible force in my life from 1990 onward was Donal O’Brien, former Audubon Medal Awardee. Donal was the most passionate and persistent person when it came to environment. He would call me all the time and within ten minutes I was either sad in tears, or I’d be shaking my fist with righteous rage because something had altered nature’s compass.” He continued on expressing the urgent need to take action, “I just read something where we are, mankind, we are extinguishing our brother-sister species at a rate 1,000 times the background natural rate. Can you imagine that? That’s where we are right now. Many scientists say that we are at the spear point of the sixth great mass extinction that will have occurred on planet earth in its four-and-a-half billion-year history.”

Guests included: David Yarnold, David B. Ford, David Roux, David Hartwell, Margaret Walker, Kristi Patterson, Susan Bell and Joseph Ellis, Jane Alexander, Leigh Altadonna, Peter Alpert, Coleman Burke, Mary McDermott Cook, Michele Crist, George S. Golumbeski, Jeffrey Goodby, James C. Greenwood, William Heck, Joy Hester, Karim Al-Khafaji, Stephanie Little, Alexis Maybank, Hector E. Morales, Jr., Terry L. Root, Ajay Shah, Hugh Simmons, Jack Stewart, Phil Swan, Stephen Tan, Art Wang, Lucy Walters, Lili Taylor and Louis Bacon

Proceeds from the event went to support Audubon’s mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.

Source: Audubon Society