Annual Environmental Awards

RECIPIENTS OF THE 2015 AWARDS

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Dr. Candace Oviatt (nominated by Judith Swift and Tom Borden)

Candace Oviatt, of Richmond, “is one of the most respected experts in the study of coastal ecosystems, with a particular emphasis on the study of Narragansett Bay,” Swift and Borden said in their nomination. As director of the University’s Marine Ecosystems Research Lab, Oviatt’s research, which has spanned decades, has provided strong scientific foundation for RIDEM actions requiring significant reductions in nutrient pollutant loadings to upper Narragansett Bay and has been instrumental in advancing water pollution control and protection of Rhode Island coastal waters. Swift and Borden add that she has recently provided scientific input to the development of a new statewide shellfish management plan, supports workshops that bring together resources managers and academic researchers with the goal of fostering information exchange, and leaves a legacy of graduate and undergraduate students who have been inspired to pursue degrees and careers in marine sciences. 

Of her award, Oviatt says, “I am very surprised and honored to be chosen for Save The Bay’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I have always appreciated the advocacy work of Save The Bay, for being the watchdog of the Bay and for the great restoration efforts for Bay habitats.”

The Environmental Achievement Award 

Angelo S. Liberti III

Bristol resident Angelo Liberti’s distinguished career began at RIDEM, a natural course for his early appreciation of the outdoors, water and the environment. At RIDEM, Liberti has directed the surface water quality permitting and restoration programs for the past 16 years. The Save The Bay policy team, who jointly nominated Liberti for the award, emphasizes his efforts to reduce nutrient loadings to the Bay through strengthened permit limits on wastewater treatment facilities, responsibility for assisting municipalities with wastewater facility planning to guide construction of sewer infrastructure, close work with the Environmental Protection Agency on Massachusetts discharge limits affecting the Bay, and leadership in the areas of shellfish monitoring/pollution related closures and stormwater strategy. As a boater, SCUBA diver and recreational quahogger, Liberti spends as much of his free time as possible enjoying Narragansett Bay.

“I am grateful to Save The Bay for this award, which I accept on behalf of a great team of coworkers with whom I’ve had the privilege of working at DEM. …the progress in water quality protection and restoration that we have made in Rhode Island would not be possible without strong advocacy from the professional staff and volunteers at Save The Bay and other organizations,” Liberti said.

The Alison J. Walsh Award for Outstanding Environmental Advocacy 

Dave McLaughlin (nominated by The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program)

Dave McLaughlin, co-founder of Clean Ocean Access, has successfully inspired a community to come together to work on environmental issues. The Newport resident led the 2006 grassroots movement and 2013 formalization of the non-profit Clean Ocean Access, which works to eliminate marine debris from shorelines, improve water quality from watershed to marine ecosystem, and protect, preserve and maintain shoreline access for residents and visitors. Formerly in information technology at Hasbro, McLaughlin credits Hasbro’s core values of community service, giving back and social responsibility for positioning him to transition his career and focus toward advancing Clean Ocean Access’s efforts for Aquidneck Island. He also serves as vice chair for the organization’s wastewater and stormwater committee and is a member of the City of Newport’s cliff walk commission.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award. It means so much because it reinforces the finite nature of our time here, and that each of us needs to find the courage to act, to make this a better place,” McLaughlin said of his award.

Volunteer of The Year

Louise Pryor of Cranston

Louise Pryor has been volunteering with Save The Bay since its beginnings in 1970. The Cranston resident is an avid supporter of Save The Bay’s advocacy efforts, and, as a long-time “mail volunteer,” who “helps ensure our message, whether a call to action or an appeal for financial support, gets out the door and into the hands of our constituents,” said Save The Bay Internship and Volunteer Manager July Lewis.

Bay Educator of The Year

Heidi Gauch of Gaudet Middle School

Heidi Gauch, of Middletown, is a frequent visitor to Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium, has been a Project Narragansett Teacher with Save The Bay for two years, and has been a strong proponent and participant of Save The Bay’s environmental education programming for five years. The Gaudet Middle School science teacher has successfully sought funding that has allowed hundreds of her students and colleagues to participate in Save The Bay’s Narragansett Bay Field Studies program. “My work with Save The Bay has made me a better teacher, taught my students to be scientists, and instilled in them the importance of protecting this valuable resource. I am honored to be selected for this award,” Gauch said.

Bay Student of the year

Isra Siddiq of North Attleboro High School

Isra Siddiq is a rising senior at North Attleboro High School. She has volunteered for the past two summers as a Save The Bay Summer Camp Counselor in Training, and returns again this July. As a counselor in training, Siddiq assists camp staff with leading games, activities and stories with Junior BayCamp groups. So inspirational were these experiences for her, that Siddiq attended Save The Bay’s first Summer High School Academy last year to explore marine science career options, and is now taking environmental science classes at school to continue studying the Bay and its watershed. “I’ve enjoyed volunteering at Save The Bay over the summers. I love being part of the educational experience for the campers. I’m very happy to have received this award,” Siddiq said.

Read about our 2014 award winners