Yukon Biodiversity Awareness Month...all April

For current information on Biodiversity in the Yukon, go to the Environment Yukon website

Past Winners of the Yukon Biodiversity Award

2001 Helmut Grünberg

Helmut is a founding member of the Yukon Bird Club and director for the past fifteen years; leading countless birdwatching trips, bird counts and breeding bird surveys. An editor for the Northwestern Canada Region of American Birds of the National Audubon Society for nine years, Helmut continues to be a vital
link between Yukon and the North American birding community. Helmut published his detailed observations of one of the Yukon’s rich wetlands in Birds of Swan Lake, Yukon (1994), and is an author of Birds of the Yukon Territory (2003). While best known for birdwatching activities, his contributions to Yukon’s biodiversity are extensive. Helmut has served as director for the Yukon Conservation Society, founding their renowned Nature Appreciation Series and is an active voice for ecosystem conservation and climate change within the territory.

2001 Robert Frisch (posthumously)

An ornithologist, botanist Robert (Bob) Frish moved to the Klondike Valley in 1970, and was renowned for his epic solo journeys through the Tombstone region. Bob spent countless hours along the Dempster and into the mountains searching for bird life; perhaps his most significant find being the first known nest-sites of Surfbirds in Canada. Eventually Bob compiled his observations into his book Birds by the Dempster Highway(1982), which 20 years since his passing, remains the definitive birding resource of the region.

2002 Charlie Peter

Charlie Charlie was a key figure in the establishment of the Porcupine Caribou Management Board. With his seemingly endless knowledge of the Old Crow area, Charlie served as guide and consultant to several generations of researchers working in the Yukon. Always a strong supporter of environmental issues in the Old Crow region, Charlie has kept traditional knowledge alive with his stories about caribou and "how things use to be." In 1988, his many years of service to Old Crow, to the Gwich'in language and traditional knowledge, and to the Yukon as a whole were recognized as Charlie Peter Charlie was admitted to the Order of Canada.

2005 Phil Caswell (posthumously)

Phil volunteered thousands of hours to Kluane National Park Reserve, investigating, collecting and identifying plants from the Park and surrounding areas. He also volunteered his botany skills briefly in Vuntut National Park and Asi Keyi Territorial Park. Perhaps his two greatest Yukon discoveries were Bering Sea Dock, a species new to Canada, and the rediscovery of Yukon Draba, Canada's rarest plant. Studying plants for 20 years in Alaska and Yukon, Phil was exceptionally talented in his field, but exceedingly humble, calling himself a “plant chaser,” fearing the term botanist too professional.

2006 Bill Cody

Starting his Yukon fieldwork in the 1960s, Cody had the monumental task of classifying the Yukon’s unique and diverse flora. He spent the next 20 years collecting plant specimens, ensuring the most complete collection possible. Flora of the Yukon (1996), his best known contribution to northern botany, quickly became a benchmark in taxonomic keys. Extraordinarily committed to his work as an Honourary Research Associate, in retirement Bill continues to provide an enormous amount of information on plants to the agricultural sector, natural resources staff, wildlife biologists, First Nations, and landscape planners. Always willing to help, every year he identifies thousands of Yukon plants and continues to publish articles on the flora of the Yukon in scientific journals

2007 Manfred Hoefs

One of Manfred’s most enduring traits is a steadfast, often wonderfully stubborn conservation ethic. Endangered species management has always been a passion of Manfred’s, as is seen in the remarkable success of the Wood Bison Recovery Project. His work on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and the Endangered Species Act will be an enduring Yukon legacy. Manfred first arrived to Yukon a PhD candidate studying Dall’s sheep and their critical habitats in Kluane. Some of the first and decisive lobbying for the eventual creation of Kluane National Park came from his work in those days. Eventually, Manfred joined the “Game Branch” of the Yukon Territorial Government, filling almost every job from field work to director.

2008 Dave Mossop

Dave’s biodiversity databases, unrivalled in Yukon, have raised awareness of birds of prey, ducks, geese, swans, grouse, ptarmigan and songbirds. The cornerstones of Biodiversity Awareness in Yukon including programs such as Celebration of Swans, Swan Haven, the Dempster Interpretive Centre, Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Yukon’s Wildlife Viewing Program, the Biodiversity Working Group, and the Biodiversity Forum, have arisen out Dave’s efforts to raise awareness of biodiversity and biodiversity issues. He has made hundreds of forays into classrooms to inspire children, many of those presentations remain ingrained it the youth and young adults today. Dave continues to raise the awareness of biodiversity to a new generation of researchers and communicators as an instructor and researcher at Yukon College, Whitehorse.

2009 Ted Murphy-Kelly, Ben Schoneville

In 2001, Ted started the Albert Creek Bird Observatory at Upper Liard, west of Watson Lake providing an amazing amount of information on bird migration through Yukon. In 2002, Ted was joined by Ben, an enthusiastic summer student whose vitality and energy combined with Ted’s experience and knowledge helped the station to become an important centre for data collection and monitoring of bird populations and migration patterns. In 2005, Ben established the Teslin Lake Bird Observatory and both stations have been operating ever since. To encourage community involvement, the banding stations welcome the public and each year they receive hundreds of visits from Yukoners and tourists alike. The stations host popular public education events for a variety of groups from the Yukon Bird Club to youth and school groups. Their efforts have made a significant contribution to our knowledge and awareness of Yukon’s diverse and spectacular bird life.

2010 (2 winners) Joe Johnson
Joseph (Joe) Johnson was a Southern Tutchone leader who advocated not only for First Nation people and their rights but for the environment and its importance to all Yukoners. Joe grew up living a traditional way of life, travelling seasonally throughout Yukon, hunting and fishing. During this time he developed a special bond with the land, animals, and his people.
Joe was instrumental in initiatives such as the protection of the Ruby Range Sheep area and the Kluane Caribou herd. Using both traditional and scientific knowledge he sought ways to balance First Nation rights and environmental protection when making management decisions.

In the early 1970’s Joe entered politics seeking to improve the lives of Yukon First Nations People. He served many terms as Chief of Kluane First Nation and supported aboriginal and environmental issues during the land claim process. After retiring Joe served on several committees including Yukon Fish and Wildlife Board, Yukon Heritage Resources Board, Kluane National Park Management Board, and Northern Native Broadcasting. He also worked as a wildlife monitor for KFN and was meticulous in recording changes on the land. His Southern Tutchone name, Mats’an Nats’ats’ulia, means “You expect something from him”; Joe always delivered with a huge smile.

Jim Hawkings
An avid birder and photographer, James (Jim) Hawkings is recognized for his contributions to our knowledge of Yukon birds and conservation efforts throughout the territory.
Having worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service for over 25 years, Mr. Hawkings is well-known in Yukon communities from Old Crow to Watson Lake for his passionate swan presentations. Mr. Hawkings has long been a supporter of the Yukon Bird Club, leading numerous field trips and volunteering with the Trumpeter Swan Society for more than 10 years. In 1986 he started the Yukon Bird-a-thon, an ongoing annual fundraising event for the club.

Mr. Hawkings has also been instrumental in several conservation initiatives, working behind the scenes to provide information to support the creation of the Nisutlin Delta National Wildlife Area, Vuntut National Park, Old Crow Flats Habitat Protection Area, and the Tagish River Habitat Protection Area. He has promoted conservation measures for M’Clintock Bay and has long been a supporter of Swan Haven.
You may see some of Mr. Hawking’s photographs in publications such as Birds of the Yukon Territory (2003) and Ecoregions of the Yukon. He has donated amazing swan footage for the Celebration of Swans information film that plays at the Whitehorse Airport.

2011 Bob Sharp
Bob has been a teacher and an educator in Yukon for over 40 years. Some of the many highlights of his contribution to biodiversity awareness focus on engaging youth. Bob has been a teacher trainer for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program for 13 years. He along with Remy Rodden and Alain Dallaire brought the international Envirothon competition to Yukon in 2003. Bob has been involved with International Polar Year, to get grade 11 students doing hands-on projects in the field.

Bob's vision initiated the Experiential Science Program when he was superintendent in 1991. This Yukon public school program for grade 11 students integrates Biology, Geography, Forestry, Chemistry, Art, and Field Methods. The program evolved from a realization that learning and understanding would benefit from hands-on experiences on the land. The program excites, inspires, challenges and motivates students with rigorous field methods, well kept data and sound scientific methodology. Over 500 Yukon students have participated in the program many continuing their education through College and University. He continues to help Yukon teachers and students to get outdoors and discover their environment. He received the Prime Minister's Award of Excellence for Teaching in 1997. His influence reaches nearly every Yukon community and he has lived and taught in Carcross, Old Crow, Ross River and Whitehorse.




Home |  Schedule of Events | National Wildlife Week  |  Biodiversity Awareness |  Earth Day YukonCelebration of Swans