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Fish and Wildlife Biologists Recognized as Environmental Leaders


November 20, 2015

Four NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists were recently recognized for their roles as leaders by two leading environmental organizations.

At the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' annual conference in Tucson, Arizona, Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) biologists Brian Zarate and Gretchen Fowles were honored with the Ernest Thompson Seton Award for their work as team leaders on the Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) project.

This important project is building a strategic Statewide Connectivity Plan for wildlife conservation in New Jersey that will help prioritize land protection, guide habitat restoration/stewardship and provide recommendations to mitigate the impacts of roads on these species. In the simplest sense, CHANJ's objective is to reconnect New Jersey's fragmented landscapes by identifying key areas and the actions needed to preserve and restore travel corridors for terrestrial wildlife.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is dedicated to educating the public about the need for and benefit of scientifically managing wildlife resources as well as recognizing the agency that exemplifies integrity in its professional program. The Ernest Thompson Seton Award recognizes the efforts of a state agency and team leader to raise public awareness of scientific wildlife management.

More recently, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey recognized two Fish and Wildlife employees at the 10th annual Women & Wildlife Awards at Duke Farms in Hillsborough. MacKenzie Hall and Pat Hamilton, along with DEP educator Tanya Oznowich, were honored for their leadership in protecting wildlife in New Jersey.

Hall, an ENSP wildlife biologist, won the Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award; Hamilton, who has worked with the Division's Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries since 1980, won the Women & Wildlife Leadership Award. Oznowich, who has been with DEP since 1988, won the Women & Wildlife Education Award for her career in championing environmental education. All three were presented their honors by former Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

For more information on the award winners, visit:

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Last Updated: November 20, 2015