The Rodney Barreto FWC Employee of the Year Award and the Louise Ireland Humphrey FWC Lifetime Achievement Award are granted to outstanding FWC employees each year. We are proud to award individuals who epitomize what it means to protect wild Florida. This year’s awards were announced at FWC’s Commission meeting in Gainesville on May 3rd.
Dr. Katherine Hubbard, director of the FWC Center for Red Tide Research, received the 2021 Rodney Barreto Award. As leader of the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) group, her work during 2021’s red tide season was instrumental in mitigating the loss of wildlife and damage to surrounding habitats. Dr. Hubbard was awarded a $2,500 stipend as part of her prize.
Leaders are often said to “wear many hats,” but Katherine wore a whole wardrobe of hats. She ensured that each of the 28 staff in the HAB group had the resources and support required to be successful in completing the agency’s mission.
“I am indebted to our outstanding HAB team at FWRI. I really share this award with them,” said Dr. Hubbard upon accepting her award. “I’m so proud of every single team member.”
The 2021 Louise Ireland Humphrey Award and its $5,000 stipend were awarded to John Hunt, former Director of the FWC’s South Florida Research Laboratory in the Florida Keys. Throughout his 40-year career, John earned the title of world-renowned lobster biologist, and his work played a significant role in the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, the Tortugas Research Natural Area, and two protected spawning aggregation sites at Riley’s Hump and Western Dry Rocks.
“Upon learning I was receiving the Louise Ireland Humphrey Award, I went to the list of past award winners,” John said. “When looking over the recipients of this award since its inception, I was immediately struck at the lifetime of accomplishment and commitment to wildlife conservation among the group. I am honored to be included with people that I have admired throughout my career. I thank the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.”
Perhaps most importantly, John was a tireless advocate for his staff within the agency. “He successfully argued for salary increases to offset the extremely high cost of living associated with the Florida Keys and repeatedly showed admirable dedication and commitment to his staff, often using his personal time and resources to assist staff in need,” said Gil McRae, Director of FWRI.
Congratulations to the winners and all of the nominees for these prestigious awards, including:
- James Erskine, FWC Everglades Coordinator
- Martha Guyas, former FWC Federal Fisheries Section Leader
- Amanda Mattair, Fisheries Biologist
- Lt. Col. Jack Daughtery, FWC Law Enforcement
- Ann Forstchen, Coordinator of Human Dimensions Programs
- Janice Kerber, Director of Everglades Youth Conservation Camp
- William “Billy” Sermons, Regional Director of Northwest Florida
- Jim Sweatman, Fisheries Management Biologist
Nominees of the Rodney Barreto FWC Employee of the Year Award and the Louise Ireland Humphrey FWC Lifetime Achievement Award were each awarded $500 stipends and $1,000 stipends, respectively.
Watch the full awards ceremony below: