2009 Honorees

Honorees 2009 National Women’s History Month

Roswitha Augusta
Entrepreneur, Filmmaker
Roswitha Augusta, is an entrepreneur, naturalist, and environmental filmmaker.  In 1980, she established Augusta Properties, an apartment management company.  Her profound love of nature prompted her to learn film-making and produce the award winning documentary, Preserving the Future, about the conflict between preserving our environment and urbanization.  Additionally, she hosts a cable television program about local environmental issues.

Anne Bowes La Bastille   b.1938
New York
Ecologist Anne LaBastille studied a flightless bird, the great pied-billed grebe, which survived in spite of living in a wildlife refuge, earthquakes, and polluted streams likely to make the species extinct.   In the early 1970s Dr. La Bastille moved to a cabin in New York’s Adirondacks.  Her solitary life led her to write Woodswoman.  In 1980, she profiled 15 women naturalists in Women and Wilderness.

Mollie Beattie    1947 – 1996     
Forester, Conservationist and Government Official
Mollie Beattie was the first woman to head the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces wildlife laws and administers the Endangered Species Act.  Beattie oversaw the successful reintroduction of the gray wolf into northern Rocky Mountains.  To recognize her extraordinary work in the field of conservation, Congress named a wilderness area in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in her honor.

Rebecca Bell   b.1953
Environmental Education Specialist
Rebecca Bell has provided outstanding leadership in embedding environmental issues into the Maryland State curriculum for all public schools.  Honored as the Maryland Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, Ms. Bell was selected in 2008 to participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher at Sea program to help scientists monitor changing ecosystem. Rebecca also serves on the Governor’s Climate Change Commission.

Arlene Blum   b.1945     
Bio-Physical Chemist, Mountaineer, Environmental Activist
Arlene Blum is best known for leading the first American, all-women’s ascent of Annapurna.  Blum’s research was instrumental in banning Tris and Fyrol, two cancer-causing chemicals used as flame retardants on children’s sleepwear, and the pesticide DBCP. Today, Blum is fighting the use of flame retardants in every-day products such as upholstered furniture. She is the author of Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.

Margrett (“Gretta”) Boley
Forest Supervisor, Kisatchie National Forest
Superintendent Boley was first in the region to implement Biomass Plant which produces energy from wood chips for district office, parking lot lighting and other energy needs.  A leader and role model in reducing the carbon footprint, she began an office campaign for recycling paper, batteries, disposal of tree marking paint, oil, other items that are harming the environment.  
Additional information can be obtained from the public information officer, Jim Caldwell, Kisatchie National Forest, (318) 473-7160, ext. 7168

Helen Caldicott  b.1938
Physician, Author, Speaker  
Helen Caldicott, physician, pacifist, and anti-nuclear activist, has worked for over 35 years to educate the international community on the medical and environmental hazards of the nuclear age. As “the single most articulate and passionate advocate of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises,” Dr. Caldicott was named by The Smithsonian Institute as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.

Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D    b.1961
Founder and Editor, Earth Negotiations Bulletin  
New York
Pamela S. Chasek has for 22 years demonstrated her passionate commitment to working to save the planet in her writing and in her work planning a climate change awareness campaign for the National Wildlife Foundation in the 1980’s. She founded the Earth Negotiations Bulletin in1992, created an environmental studies major at Manhattan College, and continues working each day to create a green campus.

Lynne Cherry     b.1952
Author, Environmental Appreciation and Education Books
Lynne Cherry is the author/illustrator of The Great Kapok Tree and thirty+ other award-winning children’s books that teach respect for the earth. Flute’s Journey: the Life of a Wood Thrush focused national media attention on conservation efforts to save the 60 acre Belt Woods in Md. when Lynne and students were featured on Sunday Morning News With Charles Osgood.

Mary Cleave   b.1947
Environmental Engineer and Astronaut
New York , District of Columbia
Dr. Cleave was a mission specialist at NASA and flew on space flights in 1985 and 1989.  Her extensive research is in the field of soil and water pollution with a special focus on the need for minimum river flow to help maintain certain game fish.  She served as NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission and also managed NASA’s Ocean Color Satellite Program in Washington, DC.  

Dr. Margaret Bryan Davis   b.1931
Behavioral Biologist
Margaret Davis was named Regents Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology at the University of Minnesota in 1983.  Her groundbreaking study of the history of the migration of forest communities during the past 14,000 years has significant implications on various theories of global warning.  Her memberships include the National Academy of Sciences and the International Association for Vegetation Science.  

Betsy Damon
United States, China
Betsy Damon, an environmental artist and activist focusing on water, is a practical visionary and founder of Keepers of the Waters (in1991) which supports collaborations between artists, scientists, and citizens to restore, preserve, and remediate their water sources.  The Living Water Garden (Chengdu) and the Olympic Forest Park (Beijing) are two of her most well known projects.

Sylvia Alice Earle   b.1935
Oceanographer and Environmentalist
New Jersey, Alaska, Hawaii
Sylvia Earle was the first woman chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She led the investigations of the impact of the burning of Kuwait’s oil fields and the devastation caused by the Exxon Vladez in Prince William Sound in Alaska.  With a group of other women scientists she lived underwater for 2 weeks to study marine environment and the effects of isolation on humans.  

Laura Capon Fermi   1907-1977     
Science Author and Community Activist
Laura Capon Fermi joined with other women to form the Cleaner Air Committee of Hyde-Park Kenwood (CAC), near the University of Chicago.  From 1959 to 1972, the CAC lobbied and educated the public about the dangers of pollution from coal-burning furnaces and cars.  The results were local building shifting from coal to cleaner gas or oil furnaces and a ban on the burning garbage in apartment buildings.

Caroline Rose Foster   1877 – 1977    
Farmer; First County Deputy Sheriff; Community Organizer; Benefactor
New Jersey
Caroline Rose Foster created and donated the first outdoor living historical farm in New Jersey, which remains a strong place for learning thirty-years after her death.  An environmentalist, she worked to preserve the historic places within the County of Morris, New Jersey including the Morris County Park Commission which preserves 38 county parks and over 17,500 acres of land in northern New Jersey.

Dr. Alice Hamilton  1869-1970
Occupational Safety and Health Pioneer
Hamilton was the first person to document the danger of industrial poisons like lead, phosphorus, and other chemicals in the work place.  Her work at Hull House gave her the opportunity to fully investigate hazardous working conditions that led to accidents, deaths, and chronic illness. Her unprecedented work resulted in laws protecting workers and improving working conditions in this country and internationally.

Ann Hancock    b.1950      
Executive Director of Climate Protection Campaign
With over 25 years in community leadership, education, and fundraising, Ann Hancock has spearhead the most progressive climate protection campaign in the US, resulting in a comprehensive Plan to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2015 throughout their county. In 2001, she co-founded the Climate Protection Campaign and has been a sustainability planner for the County of Marin. 

Dr. Roz Iasillo    b.1958
Environmental Science Educator
Dr. Roz Iasillo developed the first environmental science class taught at the secondary level in Illinois.  She has influenced and inspired thousands of her students to live sustainable lives and be good stewards of the earth’s resources by volunteering at community clean-up days, prairie seed collecting, and the yearly removal of non-native plants from local forest preserves. Her enthusiasm and commitment to our earth is boundless. 

Elizabeth Donnell Kay    1895  – 1987
Nurse, Businesswomen, Charity Worker, Environmentalist
New Jersey,  Florida
In 1924, Elizabeth Donnell Kay, started a home-based herb mail-order business.  By 1932, she was teaching about the importance of preserving native plants and educating farmers about the harmful practice of setting fire to their fields each year after harvest.  In 1960, Elizabeth and her husband created the Pine Jog Environmental Sciences Center, which today under the auspices of Florida Atlantic University, 16,000 children visit annually.

Osprey Orielle Lake   b.1959
Sculptor, Public Speaker, Teacher
Osprey Orielle Lake, one of the world’s few female monument makers working in allegorical and abstract images.  She utilizes the power and beauty of nature-themed images and narratives to inspire people to learn about and care for the earth. Her international art projects bring attention to protecting the environment by enlivening the urban landscape with statues that celebrate nature.

Abbe Land      b.1955
Mayor Pro Tempore City of West Hollywood
Abbe Land, California, has initiated several of West Hollywood’s landmark environmental policies, including its Green Building Ordinance, the nation’s first mandatory program for commercial and residential buildings. Because of her efforts, the City’s new library will be a certified LEED Silver building. She co-sponsored a Heritage Tree Preservation Program to protect the City’s trees and increase its urban canopy.

Dr. Meg Lowman
Forest Conservation Biologist/Science Educator
Pioneer of treetop exploration, Lowman is affectionately called “Grandmother of canopy research” by colleagues. Author of 100 publications, 6 books including both definitive texts and she has chaired three international canopy conferences.  She has also “starred” on National Geographic television; runs a foundation for tropical forest conservation; and has mentored over 10 million students via distance learning.  “No child left indoors” is her personal mantra.

Sharon Rose Matola   b.1954
Maryland, Florida, International
Sharon Matola worked in Belize where she became the prime mover in arousing consciousness of citizens and the Belize government to the fears of extinction of the country’s wildlife and removal of wilderness areas.  In 1991, she was founder and director of the Belize Zoo, which uses the zoo’s wildlife preservation area to save at least 4 tapir species which faced extinction.  

Mary Eliza McDowell  1854-1936
Social Reformer
Mary Eliza McDowell was known as “The Duchess of Bubbly Creek” for leading the efforts to clean up the South Branch of the Chicago River, a stinking and unsanitary waterway into which was dumped animal waste and carcasses from the nearby slaughterhouses.  From 1894 to 1923, she led the University of Chicago Settlement House and pressed the city government build incinerators in place of open garbage dumps.

Rose Marie Williams McGuire  b.1936
Artist Educator Poet & Illustrator
Rose Marie Williams McGuire as artist, educator, poet, and illustrator has worked in several mediums for fifty-four years teaching the spectrum of ages.  Her sculptures and printed works reflect the recycled objects in everyday use. Found Objects is the central them of her art, which is on exhibit in THE PETTIE HOUSE GALLERY in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shirley Nelson
Health Promotion /Disease Prevention Coordinator
Ms. Shirley Nelson leads the Navajo Nation Trash Taskforce, a group of volunteers, government officials and concerned citizens, who have a common interest in educating the public about the Nation’s solid waste problem.  She works to educate communities on ways to become proactive in solving the solid waste issue in their communities and providing technical assistance that is otherwise lagging on certain parts of the Navajo Nation.  

Roberta J. Nichols   1931-2008
Research Engineer
Roberta Nichols began research for alternative fuels at Ford Motor Company in 1979.  She and her team developed ethanol-fueled engines and she oversaw the building of 27 natural gas trucks and worked on sodium-sulfur technology for batteries and electric vehicles.  Nichols was the first woman elected to the Society of Automotive Engineers. She earned Aerospace Corporation’s Woman of the Year and Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award in 1988.  

Agnes Baker Pilgrim  b.1924
Siletz Tribal Member
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim is one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers who are part of a global alliance; to work together to serve both their common goals and their specific local concerns. Their traditional ways link them with the forces of the earth. Their solidarity with one another creates a web to re-balance the injustices wrought from an imbalanced world.

Val Plumwood  1939-2008
Eco-Feminist Philosopher
Australia, International
Val Plumwood was highly influential in defining and promoting a feminist environmental philosophy.  She was an inspiring role model whose work and life embodied the principles of honor and respect for the environment.  Her classic work, FEMINISM AND THE MASTERY OF NATURE is essential reading to understand the cultural, historical, and philosophical issues involved in the environmental crisis that threatens our survival.

Tobey Silbert Schein Prinz    1911-1984
Teacher, Union Organizer, Community Activists
Tobey Silbert Schein Prinz working with other community activists she organized the Rogers Park Community Council (RPCC).  In 1954, RPCC successfully blocked condominium development of the Lake Michigan beachfront in the Rogers Park neighborhood, preserving the beach as public space. As a teacher and union organizer, she also fought for racial integration and tenants’ rights.

Ellen Swallow Richards    1842-1911
Richard was the first American women to earn a degree in chemistry, a pioneer in applying scientific principles to domestic situations such as nutrition, physical fitness, sanitation, and efficient home management, and creator of the field of home economics. She undertook the first scientific water quality studies in America and is called the founder of ecology.

Maxine Lazarus Savitz  b.1937
Organic Chemist
Maxine Lazarus Savitz earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from MIT in 1961.  She taught at the University of California, Berkeley where she strongly encouraged women to enter engineering fields.  Her research includes work on free radical mechanisms, anodic hydrocarbon oxidation, fuel cells and improved use of energy in buildings.  Her work resulted in the development of energy saving electrical technology and alternate fuels for cars.

Carolyn M. Scott     b.1955        
Founder and Executive Director of Turtle Island Films
Carolyn Scott is an environmental activist, writer, filmmaker whose mission is to bring “green” films and media to a large audience. Turtle Island Films is developing a visionary project: REEL GREEN, which uses sophisticated web technologies to distribute award winning films and activist toolkits to lead organizers for catalyzing events.  A founding member of the Biofuels Research Cooperative in Sonoma County, Carolyn runs her car on organic, carbon neutral biodiesel.

Kate Shackford    b.1951
Vice President, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. & Director, Bronx Initiative for Energy and the Environment
New York
Ms. Shackford leads environmental initiatives and programs.  She has been able to lead the Bronx as the foremost “green” borough in New York City and has assisted the entire City in becoming more socially and environmental conscious. She has the ability to prove that she can take on any task and make it successful, while simultaneously exhibiting her dedication to the community. 

Ellen K. Silbergeld    b.1945        
Environmental Toxicologist and Research Scientist
Ellen Silbergeld is an environmental toxicologist and researcher who was the person primarily responsible for having lead, a major environmental and health hazard, removed from gasoline.  She has been an activist in addressing lead contamination in water and has worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, the University of Maryland Medical School, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Kathleen C. Taylor   b.1942
Physical Chemist
Kathleen Taylor, physical chemist, worked with her co-workers at General Motors to invent a catalytic converter to convert nitric oxide into nitrogen gas.  This improved catalytic converter was introduced in 1975, help reduce smog emissions.  She directed General Motors’s Materials and Processes Laboratory and the Physical Chemistry Department.  In 1988 Dr. Taylor received the Garvan Medal of the American Chemical Society, sponsored by Olin Corporation. 

Alice Waters  b.1944
Founded Chez Panisse Foundation
Alice Waters is a pioneering cook, restaurateur and food activist.  In 1996, she launched Chez Panisse Foundation to inspire students to choose healthy food and help them understand how their choices affect their health, their communities, and the planet.  The programs include replacing school cafeteria canned fruits and vegetables with fresh fruit and vegetables, and developing school yard organic gardens where students cultivate food that they also prepare, serve and eat.

May Petrea Theilgaard Watts   1893-1975  
Teacher and Author
Teacher and author, May Petrea Theilgaard Watts, served as a naturalist from 1942-1957 at the Morton Arboretum west of Chicago.  Her educational programs were used as models for other institutions.  She founded the Illinois Prairie Path, a foot and bike path of almost thirty miles also west of Chicago, and led efforts to transform old rail lines into public trails.

Elizabeth Coleman White   1871–1954
New Jersey
Elizabeth Coleman White grew up on her father’s cranberry farm and developed an interest in commercial agriculture.  She pioneered the cultivation of the blueberry. Collaborating with Fredrick Coville, she developed develop a commercial blueberry based on the sweetest and hardiest of the wild varieties of blueberries growing in the NJ Pine Barrens.  She also helped start the NJ Cooperative Blueberry Association.

Diane Wilson   b.1948
Environmental Activist
Diane Wilson is a fourth-generation shrimper, who began fishing at the age of eight.  Her environmental activism began when she learned that Formosa Plastic dumping toxins into the bay made her home of Calhoun County, Texas the number one toxic polluter in the country.  Although she was threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted that the truth be told.

Esther Yanai  1928–2003
New Jersey
Esther Yanai was a giant in New Jersey’s conservation movement.  A founding member of Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM), which preserves and protects the community’s open space, she was the driving force behind the creation a natural resources inventory (NRI) for the Township and an open space inventory for Moorestown’s first Open Space Committee and later the Moorestown Environmental Advisory Committee.