NOAA Names Environmental Heroes
April 20, 2001

Contact: Connie Barclay, NOAA 2001-R414

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has named six National Ocean Service volunteers as Environmental Heroes for 2001. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the Commerce Department agency has recognized local citizens throughout the United States who have contributed to the protection and preservation of the nation's coastal and marine environment.

"On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present these individuals with 2001 Environmental Hero Awards," said Scott Gudes, acting administrator for NOAA. "This award recognizes their dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments to benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans."

Each year NOAA invites its line offices to submit nominations for Environmental Hero Awards. This year there are a total of 27 honorees. Gudes sent each of the environmental heroes a personal letter of congratulations, and some are being honored in ceremonies centered around Earth Day, April 23.

Deborah Pardike is an influential local citizen from Alpena, Mich., involved in the designation of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, the latest addition to the 13-site National Marine Sanctuary system. She has volunteered countless hours, providing input on community issues and concerns to NOAA and the state of Michigan during the sanctuary designation process.

Robert Michelson, a professional photographer and videographer has been a staunch advocate and supporter of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts. He has donated significant amounts of time and talent, including wildlife and underwater photography and video, to the sanctuary.

Bob Breen has worked closely with California's Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. He has been an active volunteer during oil spills, and he teaches a special course at a local high school for children interested in marine biology and the ocean.

Richie Moretti is the founder of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Fla., which opened in 1986. He has recruited many volunteers to assist with sea turtle surgery, care and feeding, and public outreach to ensure the continued health of these threatened species within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Theodore H. Below won the Environmental Hero Award for his work as an avid bird watcher. Below has studied the birds in the mangrove islands on the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve in Florida for more than 25 years. Below has spent much of his life trying to understand habitats, species and natural phenomenon.

Francis "Paul" Spadaro, president of the Magothy River Association, has provided years of outstanding leadership to this organization, which is devoted to the protection and enhancement of marine life in the Magothy River in Maryland. Spadaro has formed a strong volunteer network to help restore oysters to Chesapeake Bay. His dedication and leadership are making a real difference.

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