Maine is known and loved for its beautiful lands, lakes, rivers, and coastline—and we owe a lot to the individuals who have helped protect these natural resources. Each year, the Natural Resources Council of Maine recognizes several of those who have made significant, lasting contributions to safeguarding Maine's environment by presenting them with a Conservation Leadership Award. As part of our Conservation Leadership Awards, we include an award that is given to a person or people who are nominated and voted on by NRCM members and the public, our People's Choice Award.
In 2017, we were pleased to honor six individuals:
- David L. Courtemanch (Mt. Vernon) Lifetime Achievement Award, for his deep knowledge of and dedication to protecting Maine’s waters
- Tony Giambro and Travis Ritchie of Paris Autobarn (South Paris) For their outstanding citizen and business leadership on climate and energy issues
- Martha Spiess (Freeport) for her work as a citizen activist/videographer volunteering hundreds of hours of video production for environmental protection
- 2017 People’s Choice Award: Addie Farmer and Lainey Randall of Portland for their work to remove plastics and other pollution from Casco Bay. Listen to an interview with Lainey and Addie.
"I am humbled because I never really think of myself as a passionate advocate for the environment. Certainly not in the frame of the other awardees that have come before me. But my passion has been to learn about the natural world, to figure out the science behind it all, and especially to learn more and better understand the living world that is around us. That is what I really think is the foundation for how we act. As this moment in time, when science seems to be having a diminishing value, and some out there are either frightened by science, or prefer to avoid it, I guess I am particularly gratified that this award comes at this time to me. Thank you very much.” - Dave Courtemanch
“We learned a lot during this project, but the biggest lesson is that all of us can make a difference in the health of our ocean, lakes and rivers. We can do it one plastic bit, one cigarette butt, and one piece of garbage at a time. We hope you will join us when you can and pick up marine debris when you see it. Thanks so much for this meaningful award.” — Lainey Randall and Addie Farmer
“It’s hard for me to believe that what we are doing at the Paris Auto Barn is so special to warrant such a prestigious award, but I am deeply honored to receive it. I look forward to the day when businesses who put people and planet first are the norm, rather than the exception. Thank you.” - Tony Giambro
“Tony and I were in Germany just last week for an electric vehicle symposium, and I was amazed at the advancements they have made. It makes me optimistic for the future. From the air, you could not count all of the wind turbines spinning in the breeze. In every small village, there were houses from the 1600’s with solar panels on the roof. From sustainable energy to transportation, each of these small moves make and impact. It is possible, just make the moves and we can advance as a society.”
- Travis Ritchie
"I just wanted to say that I am part of a network. I have worked with a lot of people in this room, you know who you are. So thank you. I also wanted to say that NRCM is absolutely amazing. They do terrific work and a lot of members are doing amazing things. Thank you." - Martha Spiess