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Unity College Names Susan Morse as Environmental Leadership Award Winner

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One of the most highly regarded wildlife trackers in North America will receive an award for environmental leadership from Unity College. Susan C. Morse of Jericho, Vermont, a nationally known tracker and expert on wildlife habitat, will receive Unity College’s 2013 Environmental Leader Award.

The leading-edge environmental college located in Unity, Maine, will honor Morse on Tuesday, April 9th.  An award presentation will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot Street in Unity.  It will be followed by a dessert reception.  The award and reception are free and open to the general public.

Also on April 9th, Morse will offer a presentation at 11 a.m. in the Parson’s Wing, Room 204 of the Student Center on the Unity College campus, based on her field experience entitled “Animals of the North; What Will Global Climate Change Mean for Them?”

President Stephen Mulkey, a leader in the growing national movement for institutions of higher education to divest from investments in fossil fuels, will attend the presentation by Morse and praised her commitment to the mitigation of global climate change.

“Females who are training for careers in service to the natural world need strong role models,” noted Mulkey.  “Susan Morse has lived a life that embodies what it means to preserve this planet for future generations.”

Morse has amassed a lifetime of achievements in wildlife monitoring and conservation, frequently raising public awareness of the need for habitat protection. The award will be presented by members of the Women in Environmental Leadership Program (WE Lead).  Each year the WE Lead program recognizes a professional woman who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in an environmental field and serves as a role model for future generations of women environmental leaders.

"Sue's commitment to wildlife conservation and education made her an outstanding choice for this award," said Nancy Zane, Experiential Programs Coordinator. "She embodies environmental leadership through her ability to connect multiple stakeholders to work on the issues facing wildlife."

Morse has spent nearly forty years researching wildlife and habitats throughout North America, with a special focus on the bobcat, black bear, cougar and Canada lynx. Her work has taken her to an amazing diversity of habitats where her expertise has been invaluable to biologists and conservationists working with the Florida panther, cougars in the Rocky Mountains and northwest, black bear and bobcat throughout their range from New England to Florida and throughout the west from British Columbia to southern Arizona.

Through her extensive fieldwork, group training programs, slide presentations at schools and community organizations, and years of consulting, writing, speaking, and advocacy for wildlife habitat protection across North America, Morse has had a profound effect upon public appreciation of the role wild mammals play in healthy ecosystems.

In 1994 Morse founded Keeping Track®, a non-profit organization based in Huntington, Vermont that trains professional biologists and citizen scientists in wildlife monitoring skills. Keeping Track®’s mission is to inspire and empower multiple stakeholders to detect, monitor and record the status of wildlife and wildlife habitat in their communities. Data collected by Keeping Track® teams has influenced the conservation and stewardship of over 40,000 acres of habitat in twelve states and Quebec.

In the words of Board member Brad Elliott, who completed the Keeping Track® training with Morse some years ago: “To be afield with Sue is a special delight for her tireless enthusiasm and joy in her work inspires us all, not only to learn what Keeping Track® has to teach, but also to actively shape conservation planning in our communities. Thus, our Keeping Track® teams become communities unto themselves. The relationships that form among team members and others we meet through the program bring us all closer to the land while also strengthening ties within the larger community. In an increasingly contentious, fragmented world I can think of nothing more important to protecting everything we love about the world we live in than the work that Keeping Track® does to inspire, inform, enrich and preserve the natural communities that thrive around us. On the two Keeping Track® teams with which I have been involved it has been impossible not to be impressed by the wide range of people who turn out. Talk about biodiversity… Young people, old people, natives, newcomers, white collars, blue collars, hunters, hikers, birders, bikers – Keeping Track® shows the power of ‘the call of the wild’ in attracting and engaging people from all kinds of backgrounds and with all types of interests.”

At home in northern Vermont, Morse’s personal vision and advocacy led to the establishment of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project (CCUCP), an effort which to date has conserved more than 8,000 acres of prime habitat. This very successful “conservation initiative,” as Morse describes it, brings together fourteen organizations that work with willing landowners in providing a means of conserving their precious land rather than defaulting to development. CCUCP has been an important and influential model for similar conservation efforts throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

"Unity College’s fields of study include Captive Wildlife Care and Education, Wildlife Biology, and Wildlife and Fisheries Management,” Zane noted. “We're sure that our students will be inspired and excited to learn about the work of Morse and Keeping Track®."

Morse, an honors graduate of the University of Vermont, has authored numerous articles and spoken to countless audiences about wildlife and habitat. Besides serving as the director of Keeping Track®, she manages her own forestry consulting business, writes a regular column for Northern Woodlands magazine and illustrates her articles and public presentations with her stunning wildlife photography.

Morse’s many accomplishments have been featured in Smithsonian, Audubon, Amicus Journal, Forest Magazine, Wild Earth, Vermont Life and Adirondack Life, and on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Both her life work as well as her photography are highlighted in the award winning children’s book, The Woods Scientist, by Stephen Swinburne. She is currently working on a major book project for Princeton University Press. More information on Keeping Track® and Morse’s work can be found at www.keepingtrack.org.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including: its focus on sustainability science; the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard; the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Thursday, March 21, 2013