RALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 30, 2012) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has awarded Dr. Harry E. LeGrand, Jr., a zoologist with the N.C.Natural Heritage Program, with one of its most prestigious awards, the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award.
Gordon Myers, the Commission’s executive director, presented LeGrand with the award, along with a plaque and framed wildlife print at the Commission’s business meeting today.
“Dr. Harry LeGrand, Jr., is one of the most precise and exacting scholars in the wildlife conservation science community today,” Myers said. “His dedication, focus and expertise as a wildlife biologist and natural resources inventory specialist are just a few of the many reasons why he is so deserving of this honor.”
LeGrand, a vertebrate biologist with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, is the program’s authority on the conservation of rare vertebrate animals and their habitats. He maintains the Rare Animal Listing published by the Natural Heritage Program and referenced by anyone who has an interest in rare animals.
During his 28-year career with the Natural Heritage Program, LeGrand has served in many capacities. He was an investigator on numerous natural area inventories, seeking and cataloguing all rare plants, animals and high-quality natural communities within survey areas.He has been instrumental in surveying and making recommendation for the dedication of state nature preserves across the state, which include Commission game lands, state parks and state forests.
The information LeGrand has gathered over the years has been used by landowners, consulting firms, local, state and federal agencies, and private citizens for conservation planning and implementation of ecologically sound development projects.
While LeGrand is known throughout the natural resources community for his extensive knowledge of vertebrate animals, he is also an expert on butterflies and dragonflies, volunteering many hours to develop The Butterflies of North Carolina, widely regarded as the butterfly atlas for the state. He has authored a similar online atlas for dragonflies and damselflies of North Carolina.
Like his former professor and the award’s namesake, Dr. Thomas L. Quay, LeGrand is an avid volunteer and mentor,always willing to answer questions, share information and teach others about North Carolina’s rich natural diversity. He served on the Commission’s Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee for nearly 20 years, providing valuable expertise and insight on nongame and endangered wildlife issues statewide. Although he recently left the committee, he continues to provide guidance on Scientific Councils and technical reviews.
LeGrand leads field trips for groups of professionals and amateur naturalists, birders and wildflower enthusiasts.He spends his weekends and holidays participating in “wild-a-thons” and bird counts, and frequently contributes information and expertise answering questions on various listservs for birds, butterflies and plants.
“Harry has an incredible work ethic. He structures his time so that he maximizes his contributions to conservation during working hours, as well as volunteering many hours of his personal time,” said Misty Buchanan, Natural Areas Inventory Manager for the Natural Heritage Program and LeGrand’s supervisor. “He is very committed to learning about biodiversity in North Carolina, and reporting the information so that others can use it to make informed decisions.”
LeGrand is the seventh person to receive the honor, which recognizes individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation.
The first recipient was Dr. Quay himself, a retired professor of zoology at N.C. State University and self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist.” Quay, who had a particular passion for birds, served on a variety of conservation boards while lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes. Quay died in April, but his accomplishments and life’s work as one of the champions of wildlife embody the spirit in which the award is given each year.
“I do wish Dr. Quay were still with us and could be here today,” LeGrand said. “I’m extremely honored to accept this award, especially one named for my former teacher and mentor.”
For more information about wildlife conservation in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s Conserving page.
A high-resolution of the image above is available for download here. Please credit Melissa McGaw/NCWRC.