On March 31, 2015, Ecotrust’s founder, Spencer B. Beebe, was honored with the Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership at the National Audubon Society’s annual Gala. Held at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, the event welcomed 350 guests and raised $1.2 million for the National Audubon Society’s continued work in conservation.
The Lufkin Prize was established by Dan W. Lufkin’s family in honor of his love and dedication to supporting conservation and environmental causes. The award includes a $100,000 cash prize, making it one of the richest environmental recognitions in the world, and is given to individuals who have dedicated their lives to on-the-ground conservation.
“Spencer Beebe is a remarkable and visionary conservation leader,” said Dan W. Lufkin. “His ingenuity and tenacity have changed the face of conservation around the world, with tremendous results for people and wildlife alike. His focus on the connections between communities and ecosystems creates real change and real progress, particularly as it impacts land use.”
Former Idaho governor Cecil D. Andrus, who has known Spencer since the 1970s when they worked together with The Nature Conservancy and others to protect the Silver Creek Preserve in southern Idaho, presented the Lufkin Prize. Cecil spoke colorfully of Spencer’s many achievements in the field of conservation — from his leadership at The Nature Conservancy, to the co-founding of Conservation International, to the founding and continued leadership of Ecotrust, joking that Spencer has been a “911” call for countless conservationists over the years.
In addition to the Lufkin Prize, the National Audubon Society presented Jack and Laura Dangermond, founders of Esri, with the Audubon Medal in recognition for their outstanding achievements in the field of technology and conservation innovation and support for research institutions, schools, and nonprofit organizations.
On acceptance of the award, Spencer expressed his deep gratitude to Dan Lufkin and his family for their generosity and dedicated support to advancing the field of conservation, and to his many family members, friends, peers, and former colleagues in the audience, including board members Nell Newman, Robert Friedman, and Karie Thomson.
He also highlighted the worldview that has informed the many accomplishments of his career: “the undeniable reality that we the human species are about one of tens of millions of species, and while unique in so many extraordinary ways, we are all an inseparable, interdependent and wholly visible part of a larger community of life.… This worldview requires that our conservation strategies embrace the whole system. Social justice, economic opportunity, and conservation are all part of a larger whole. Every transaction in our world must strive to enhance both people and place. End of story.”