AUGUSTA — A leading climate scientist, small business owner, local energy efficiency advocate, and the long-time natural resources director at the Penobscot Nation are being honored as Maine’s 2021 Conservation Leadership Award winners for their significant, long-lasting contributions to protecting the nature of Maine.

The awards program, which will stream live online on Tuesday, Oct. 26 from 6-7 p.m., is hosted annually by Maine’s leading environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

“The environmental leaders being honored this year give me great hope for the future of Maine’s environment. We will need to depend on the energy, enthusiasm, and strong moral conviction of leaders like this if we are to take the bold actions necessary to avert a climate crisis and protect the woods, waters, and wildlife that make Maine so special,” said NRCM CEO Lisa Pohlmann. “These Mainers identified environmental challenges in their communities and beyond, and have gone to great lengths to tackle those challenges head on using the power of science and leading by example to rally others to join their cause.”

The four individuals being honored by NRCM at the 2021 Conservation Leadership Awards are:

·        University of Maine Professor Ivan Fernandez of Orono will receive a Conservation Leadership Award for his leadership as one of Maine’s top climate scientists, providing policy-makers and the public with cutting-edge information about our changing climate, including by serving as a member of the Maine Climate Council.

·       Small business owner Laura Marston of South Portland will receive a Conservation Leadership Award for advocating for and pioneering new ways to reduce waste and encourage reuse through her business, throughout her community, and across Maine

·        John Banks of Orono will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his countless contributions to the protection of natural resources on behalf of the Penobscot Nation, with a special focus on restoring water quality, fisheries, and connections among people and nature

·        Sam Saltonstall of Brunswick will receive the 2021 People’s Choice Award for almost two decades of tireless advocacy for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation.

For more than 30 years, NRCM’s Conservation Leadership Awards have recognized residents across the state who work to protect the natural resources that are so important for Maine’s economy and way of life. Past recipients include Senator George Mitchell, natural history author Phyllis Austin, former Baxter State Park Director Buzz Caverly, Olympic champion/clean air activist Joan Benoit Samuelson, and more than a hundred other citizen heroes who have made a difference in their communities and beyond.

More information about the work of this year’s award winners is available upon request. More about NRCM’s Conservation Leadership Awards can be found at

Founded in 1959, the Natural Resources Council of Maine is our state’s leading nonprofit membership organization protecting Maine’s land, air, waters, and wildlife. We harness the power of science, the law, and the voices of more than 25,000 supporters from across Maine and beyond to protect the nature of Maine.