The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF) has named Carlton Ward Jr. winner of its 2015 BlueGreen Conservation Leadership Award in Florida. The award is given each year to an individual who has contributed substantial time, effort and leadership toward promoting and implementing effective conservation for the state’s natural resources. Previous winners include Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
Carlton Ward Jr. is a conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer from Tampa. His passion for nature sprang from the Florida landscape and a perspective grounded by eight generations of family heritage. He sees natural environments and cultural legacies as Earth’s greatest yet most threatened resources. Ward began his career as a photographer with the Smithsonian Institution in central Africa before returning home to document the under-appreciated natural wonders of his native Florida. His 2009 book, “Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier,” won a silver medal in the Florida Book Awards and for that work Popular Photography magazine featured him as one of three photographers working to save vanishing America.
Ward is a leading proponent for the role of private lands in wildlife conservation. His major focus has been the Florida Wildlife Corridor project, which he co-founded, along with a nonprofit organization that advocates “Connecting to Keep Florida Wild.” In 2012, Ward led the first Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition – a 100-day, 1,000-mile trek and public awareness campaign from the Everglades to Okefenokee, Georgia. In 2015, he participated in another 1,000-mile expedition, this time from the Everglades Headwaters near Orlando to Gulf Islands National Seashore in the western Florida Panhandle, showcasing the rest of the statewide network of public and private lands that comprise the Florida Wildlife Corridor. For this project he was named the 2015 Rolex Artist-in-Exploration by The Explorers Club.
“Carlton Ward Jr. has already accomplished so much for building conservation awareness in Florida, and he hasn’t even turned 40 yet,” said Rodney Barreto, FWFF chairman. “His innovation, perseverance and leadership on the Florida Wildlife Corridor is amazing, and we have supported it from the very beginning.”
Ward is a great role model for everyone who cares about the environment and especially for our young people, Barreto said. “He is living proof of what can be accomplished when you have a passion for what you do, and he proves that ‘Creating the Next Generation that Cares’ ? our initiative to reconnect kids with nature and the outdoors through the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network program ? is vital to the future of Florida.”
Ward will be officially recognized during the 4th Annual BlueGreen Event on Nov. 14 at “Alligator” Ron Bergeron’s Green Glades Ranch in Weston.
“This will be the chance to meet, greet and make strong connections with others who share the same vision, and who have the means and abilities to make the vision a reality,” Barreto said.
The FWFF is a 501c3 nonprofit started in 1994 as the citizen support group for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Its mission is to partner with the FWC to ensure the conservation and enhancement of Florida’s fish and wildlife resources so they survive and thrive for current and future generations of Florida residents and visitors. The Foundation’s motto is, “Florida is like no other place on earth, and working together we can keep it that way.”