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Ann Berry Somers Presented with Wildlife Conservation Award

  • 19 July 2019
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Ann Berry Somers Presented with Wildlife Conservation Award
Wildlife Commission executive director Gordon Myers, Ann Berry Somers and Wildlife Commission Chairman John Coley.

RALEIGH, N.C. (July 19, 2018) — Today the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission presented the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award to Ann Berry Somers, recognizing her 40-plus years of service and experience in the field of herpetology conservation in North Carolina.

Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers presented Somers with an engraved plaque, along with a framed print, during the Commission’s business meeting in Raleigh.

“Ann’s thoughtful and innovative leadership have led to innumerable species conservation accomplishments,” said Myers. “It’s my honor to present her with this award.”

The Commission presents the prestigious Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award annually to North Carolinians who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation. 

Somers, a Greensboro resident, has dedicated her life to the conservation and management of reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as “herps.” A Senior Lecturer and Lloyd International Honors College Faculty Fellow at UNC-Greensboro since 1989, Somers has been recognized multiple times during her career for teaching excellence having developed many innovations in teaching, mentoring student-service learning projects in science and publishing numerous pieces of wildlife conservation research, curricula and literature.

She and her students were the driving force behind the creation of the Commission’s new Wildlife Conservation license plate, which features an artistic rendition of the Pine Barrens tree frog, the official state frog of North Carolina. Twenty dollars from each plate goes to the agency’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, which is used to fund projects and programs benefitting native nongame wildlife.

Somers is a member of several herp-related organizations, such as North Carolina Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and is a 40-year charter member of the North Carolina Herpetological Society. She also has served on numerous conservation-related boards and committees, including a 20-year stint on the Commission’s Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC), a board comprising 15 North Carolina citizens who advise the agency on nongame wildlife conservation issues across the state.

As an officer on the N.C. Wildlife Federation (NCWF) board, Somers has been a motivating force behind the Federation’s efforts to conserve nongame species, including the protection of native turtles from overharvest and the conservation of aquatic ecosystems for freshwater mussels and threatened herpetofauna.

Perhaps Somers is best known for “The Box Turtle Connection,” a long-term, citizen-science project that collects scientific data, educates scientists and the public, and promotes a better understanding for the conservation and management of the eastern box turtle, North Carolina’s official state reptile. 

“Ann’s knowledge, skills and experiences allow her to effectively work with sportsmen, birders, gardening enthusiasts, agencies, the business community and elected officials for the greater gain of nongame species conservation,” said Tim Gestwicki, NCWF’s executive director who nominated Somers for the award. “An example of this is in her advocating and rallying students and others to advocate for nongame funding in D.C., via State Wildlife Grants and recently for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act for wildlife diversity and the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan.”

Somers is the 14th recipient of the Quay Award. The first was Dr. Quay himself, 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.

Media Contact:

Fairley Mahlum

919-707-0180

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