The Natural Areas Association recognizes the importance of celebrating the people and organizations that have made exceptional contributions to stewarding natural areas.

We present two annual awards, the George B. Fell Award, and Carl N. Becker Award, to shine light on those worthy of recognition. Those who have significantly advocated for and advanced research, methods or policy approaches for better identification and protection of natural areas. 

Each year, we honor award recipients during the Natural Areas Conference at our Awards Dinner. 

Watch the moving acceptance speech of our 2018 Carl N. Becker Stewardship Award recipient, Joyce Bender.

Explore Past Conferences

Past Award Winners


1987 Clifford E. Germain

1989 Dr. Robert E. Jenkins

1990 Jerry F. Franklin

1991 Charles A. Wellner

1993  Dr. Richard Goodwin

1994  William Barnes

1995 Dr. Alton A. Lindsay and John Wylie Chief, Natural History Division, Missouri Department of Conservation

1996 The Prairie Triad pioneers of prairie preservation in northern Illinois:

  •    Robert Betz, The Prairie Prophet
  •    Ray Schulenberg, The Prairie Practitioner
  •    Floyd Swink, The Prairie Patriarch

1997  Dr. Robert E. Frenkel

1998  Dr. Edward G. Voss and Bertha Daubendick

1999 The Babbit Family

2000 John Schwegman

2001  Margaret Hames

2002  W. Leon Neel

2003  Wilbur Mayhew

2004  James Bissell

2005  John Humke

2006  Charles Van Riper III

2007  John Bacone

2008  Elsie Quarterman

2009  Hal DeSelm

2010  David Brunckhorst

2011  Richard Thom

2012  Joan Seevers

2013  Fran Harty

2014  Paul Knoop

2015  Sylvia Taylor

2016  John O. Sawyer

2017  Larry Smith

2018 William (Bill) Weeks

2019 Reed Noss


2001 Monterey Pine Forest Watch

2002 Dr. Dennis Nyberg

2003 Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park

2004 Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Keith and Mary Blackmore

2005 Okefenokee Wildlife League (OWL)

2006 Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, Diablo Trust, Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

2007 Jeff Krause

2008 Gary Milano

2009 None

2010 Joe Woolbright

2011 Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program

2012 Southern Illinois Invasives Strike Team

2013 The Stewardship Network

2014 Lee Casebere

2015 Martin Blaney

2016 Jenny Cruse-Sanders

2017 Bill Kleiman

2018 Joyce Bender

2019 Mentor Marsh Stewardship Team, Cleveland Museum of Natural History


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.