RALEIGH, N.C. (July 28, 2017) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission presented the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award on Thursday to Alvin Braswell, a renowned herpetologist, naturalist and leader in the conservation of North Carolina’s wildlife, particularly reptiles and amphibians.
Wildlife Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers presented Braswell the award, along with a painting by wildlife artist Duane Raver, during the Commission’s business meeting in Raleigh.
The Commission presents the prestigious Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation.
Over the span of nearly 50 years, Braswell has developed a reputation as a leading researcher and conservationist in the field of herpetology — the study of reptiles and amphibians. The Raleigh resident worked for more than 40 years at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences where he started his career as a research curator and later became Curator of Herpetology, Laboratory Research Director and Deputy Director.
During his career, Braswell contributed greatly toward the conservation of the state’s native wildlife, particularly turtles. He was instrumental in helping to develop legislation in 2003 that led to the prohibition of the take of more than four turtles without a permit — a law that has helped to sustain turtle populations in the state.
Braswell also has authored or co-authored more than 55 journal articles as well as two well-known and respected guides for identifying reptiles and amphibians in the mid-Atlantic region — Reptiles of North Carolina and Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia.
Braswell was a key player in bringing together a small group of herpetology enthusiasts in 1978 to form the N.C. Herpetological Society, whose members work to foster appreciation and a better understanding of North Carolina’s herpetofauna through field trips, mentoring and education programs. He served as a member of the N.C. Plant Conservation Scientific Committee for 26 years, seven as the chair, and also served as a member of the Wildlife Commission’s Nongame and Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC) for 23 years. The NWAC comprises 15 North Carolina citizens who provide advice to the Commission on nongame wildlife conservation concerns across the state.
Braswell has received numerous honors for his commitment to wildlife conservation including the Governor’s Wildlife Conservationist of the Year in 2006 and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in 2011. He also received the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2014, which is bestowed upon North Carolinians who have a record of extraordinary service to their organizations, their communities and to the State of North Carolina.
While Braswell is well known for his conservation work in herpetology, he is also considered one of North Carolina’s premier naturalists, having conducted field studies in every county of the state. He knows the Tar Heel state’s many and varied wildlife species, their habitats and their behaviors and he readily shares his knowledge with his fellow professionals, many friends and acquaintances and students across the state.
Upon his retirement from the museum in 2015, Braswell was granted an Emeritus Research Coordinator position at the museum, which has allowed him to return to the field and the classroom, where he can continue his conservation work.
“More than any of his professional accomplishments, Alvin’s contribution to the appreciation and conservation North Carolina’s wildlife diversity is mainly personal,” said Linda Pearsall, who was one of two people to nominate Braswell for this year’s honor, and a former recipient of the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award herself. “Everyone who has ever spent a quiet hour by the fire or a day in the field with Alvin has come away enriched with new knowledge and inspired by new appreciation.
“As a former student of Doctor Quay, he embodies the commitment to wildlife conservation and public education that Dr. Quay demonstrated.”
Braswell is the 12th person to receive the honor. The first recipient was Dr. Quay, a former professor of zoology at N.C. State University and self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist.” Quay, who passed away in April 2012, served on a variety of conservation boards while lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes.
For more information about wildlife conservation in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s website, www.ncwildlife.org/conserving.
Jodie B. Owen
Download a high-resolution version of the above image. Please credit Melissa McGaw/NCWRC