Introducing BRAW's 2020
Recognition Award Recipients
BRAW President Patrick Ready announces seven 2020 recognition award recipients .
"Selecting BRAW award recipients is becoming more challenging each year," Ready said. "Our association is fortunate to have many dedicated members who engage in teaching and communicating the importance of helping Wisconsin's Eastern Bluebirds and native cavity nesters," added Ready.
Award recipients this year are being recognized for their outstanding contributions supporting our mission to ensure the population of Wisconsin Bluebirds and other native cavity nesters remain strong and stable. Five award categories recognized seven recipients.
2020 AWARD CATEGORIES
Bluebirder of the Year
Teacher of the Year
Communicator of the Year
Each award recipient received an elegant glass plaque with a blue scuplted base engraved with their name and award category. To learn more about this year's award winners please read on.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Gene Birr, of Little Suamico, has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Birr was cited for his many years of conducting workshops and assisting hundreds of residents start their own bluebird nest box trails. “It’s been a pleasure helping our native cavity nesters by providing nest boxes and helping others build trails,” he noted.
As chairperson of BRAW’s County Coordinators Committee, Birr has ensured that there is a network of advisers throughout the state to guide anyone interested in helping cavity nesters.
Birr has also conducted research on nest boxes with skylights to discourage box pirating by invasive species. “My greatest satisfaction has come from sharing this information to improve the success rate for fellow bluebird monitors,” Birr said.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Raymond Pinter, of West Bend, has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Pinter was cited for his many years of helping hundreds of residents start their own bluebird nest box trails.
He now maintains and monitors trails with 70 nest boxes of his own. As Pinter noted: “Each nesting season brings new challenges but also new opportunities to learn about these fascinating cavity nesters.”
Some of his trails are located on the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation and Ozaukee-Washington County Land Trust properties. “The trusts provide the habitat and BRAW supplies the knowledge – a great recipe for helping the birds we love,” said Pinter.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Rita Gundry, of Fall Creek, has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Gundry was cited for her many years of conservation work with bluebirds, bees, bats and butterflies. Her concern for declining populations has been matched by positive actions to restore them.
Her family has maintained and monitored bluebird nest boxes since the 1980’s. She also volunteers as a bat counter for the Wisconsin DNR, and as a member of Monarch Butterfly Watch she raises and tags them.
In reflecting on her contributions, Gundry said: “I play a small part with these activities in hopes my grandchildren will enjoy the species as much as I do and continue my work when I am unable to do so.”
Andrew Struck has received the 2020 Achievement Year Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW). for work he has overseen in bringing back the Eastern Bluebird to Wisconsin.
Struck has done much to further promote the restotarion and conservation of bluebirds by overseeing the installation of bluebird nest boxes in two parks.
This award recognizes the the work Struck has done overseeing the installation of 90 nest boxes at county parks, including 21 at Tendick Nature Park and 22 at Hawthorne Hills County Park and Golf Course. The bluebird nest boxes are part of a restoration effort at Tendick that began in 2007 to restore native prairie and wetlands, plant native trees and improve habitat for fish, wildlife and pollinators. Installation of the bluebird nest boxes has been partially funded by grants from Bird City Wisconsin.
BRAW recognizes the importance of Struck's dedicated commitment and effort to ensure that the state's Eastern Bluebird and other native cavity nesters population remain strong and stable.
Teacher of the Year Award
Sue Hall, of Stevens Point, has received the 2020 Teacher of the Year Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Hall was cited for her 35 years of teaching children to enjoy nature. She has installed bluebird nest boxes at six area grade schools. “The children are amazed at how the nests and eggs look, as well as how quickly the chicks grow,” said Hall.
In addition to helping monitor a trail with 40 nest boxes, she volunteers with bluebird displays at the local Children’s Museum, Boston School Forest, Monk Gardens in Wausau and Fall Family Festival at the Mead Wildlife Area near Milladore.
Hall assists husband Kent in giving a presentation “Learning to Think Like a Bluebird” at the Portage County Library and for the Natural Resources Foundation. They both have served on the BRAW board of directors.
Bluebirder of the Year Award
Stephen Lang, of Madison, has received the 2020 Bluebirder of the Year Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Lang was cited for his contributions to BRAW’s Trail Builder program for new members.
He built and donated 125 nest boxes with predator guards which were used to establish and restock bluebird trails.
He and his wife, Mary, monitor 70 nest boxes on two trails in Dane County parks. “The
boxes are used by bluebirds, tree swallows, chickadees and wrens,” said Lang. “This year those boxes produced about 360 fledglings.”
Communicator of the Year Award
Val Cunningham, of St. Paul, has received the 2020 Communicator of the Year Award from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
Cunningham writes the “Backyard & Beyond” column that appears in each issue of Wisconsin Outdoor News and is a contributor to the “On the Wing” page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
BRAW cited Cunningham’s efforts in educating readers about the ways and wonders of nature in support of conservation and restoration efforts.
A dedicated birdwatcher, Cunningham describes bluebirds as “many peoples’ gateway bird, one that catches their eye and prompts them to want to conserve all species.”
“As a nature writer, I am dedicated to the idea of helping readers fall in love with birds,” said Cunningham. “One thing we all can do is make sure we provide habitat for birds and the insects they eat,” she added.
Cunningham maintains and monitors a trail consisting of a dozen bluebird nest boxes. “I got hooked on birds many years ago, and I’m still trying to help them through my writing,” she noted.