SCCC Awards

Chris Brokate: 2018 Ernestine I. Smith “Environmentalist of the Year”

Chris Brokate

Chris Brokate founded the Clean River Alliance in 2014 with the mission of removing trash from the Russian River watershed and educating citizens about the problem of trash in our waters by creating more public cleanup events. In 2017, CRA organized over 1000 volunteers to collectively remove over 170,000 pounds of trash from the Russian River watershed. The Clean River Alliance complemented and greatly extended the efforts of the Russian River Watershed Cleanup which has organized a once a year cleanup for 30 years.

After the 2017 fires, Chris mobilized his extensive volunteer network to install miles of straw wattles to control toxic run off in burned areas. Since its inception, CRA has expanded its scope to include post-flood cleanup, Adopt-A-Highway programs in Guerneville and Cloverdale, and the Clean Camp trash collection service for those living without houses in the lower Russian River area. CRA is under the non-profit fiscal sponsorship of Russian Riverkeeper.

This award will be presented at the Sonoma County Conservation Action Gala, June 23, 2018 at the Friedman Center in Santa Rosa.

Caitlin Cornwall and Betty Young: Leadership in Post-Fire Ecosystem Regeneration

Following the catastrophic fires of last October, Caitlin and Betty used their extensive knowledge and experience with how our native ecosystems function to identify critical needs and mobilize the help of hundreds of volunteers.

These two awards will be presented at the annual SCCC & Sierra Club Holiday Networking Party, which will be held December 6, 2018 at the Sebastopol Grange.

Caitlin CornwallCaitlin Cornwall went into action immediately after the fires to defend out watersheds. Caitlin led the Sonoma Ecology Center staff and volunteers into burned areas to assess damages, install erosion control, and contact landowners. She was among the first to put out desperately needed information about tree safety and toxic runoff, providing respected guidance to protect the safety of people as well as the landscape.

Caitlin has worked in conservation for over 20 years and does research, science, education, policy and volunteer organizing for the Sonoma Ecology Center. She has also been a key player in forming the collaborative and science-based North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative, a regional effort to respond to climate change.

Betty YoungBetty Young used her 30 years of experience growing native plants and restoration work to conceive and organize the ‘Re-Oak’ initiative. She led volunteers on numerous acorn collecting trips after the fires, bringing in the help of local nonprofits and agencies, and oversaw the task of cleaning and processing over 50 thousand acorns. The acorns and seedlings are being used in revegetation projects on burned areas on public and private lands throughout Sonoma County.

Betty also saw the need for a new native plant nursery that meets current disease prevention standards and the needs of the Laguna Foundation and the Milo Baker Chapter of the Native Plant Society. She partnered with the Foundation to fundraise for, design and build a nursery that will both serve the needs for restoration plants for the Foundation as well as to be sold by the Native Plant Society to home gardeners.

The Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award, initiated in 1975, recognizes people who made outstanding efforts to protect regional resources, directly or indirectly, or advanced their better stewardship. The Ernestine I. Smith Lifetime Environmental Commitment Award initiated in 1994, was granted to persons recognized by the SCCC as having devoted a major part of their lives working for the conservation and improvement of the natural environment. Additionally the SCCC has made awards for Young Environmentalist of the Year; for Outstanding Educators, Projects and Programs; and for Special Recognitions.

Ernie Smith at the 2006 Environmental Dinner
Ernie Smith in 2006 at the Environmental Awards Dinner.

In 2016 the SCCC Board merged the Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award with the Ernestine I Smith Lifetime Environmental Commitment Award. This award is now called the Ernestine I. Smith Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award. Ernie Smith was one of the key early Conservation Council leaders and a long-standing Sonoma County environmentalist. This award recognizes Ernie’s inspirational legacy, her generation of trail-blazing environmental leaders, and environmental trail-blazers of today.

Ernestine I. Smith Sonoma County Environmentalists of the Year

2018  Chris Brokate
2017  Teri Shore
2016  no award
2015  Kimberly Burr and Larry Hanson
2014  Stephen Fuller-Rowell
2013  Dennis Rosatti
2012  Steve Birdlebough
2011  John Herrick
2010  Jane Neilson
2009  David Keller
2008  Daisy Pistey-Lhyne
2007  Anne Hudgins and Suzanne Doyle
2006  Dave Henson and Keith Kaulum
2005  Rue Furch
2004  Peter Ashcroft
2003  Pavitra Crimmel
2002  Margaret Pennington
2001  Diane Hichwa
2000  “Look around, there’s on within 10 feet”
1999  Peeter Vilms
1998  Christa Shaw
1997  Mark Green
1996  Sandra Elles
1995  Krista Rector
1994  Juliana Doms
1993  Richard Charter
1992  Dick Day
1991  Joan Vilms
1990  Elizabeth Eddins
1989  Dee Swanhuyser
1988  Helen Libeu
1987  Carol Vellutini and Brenda Adelman
1986  Bill and Lucy Kortum
1985  David and Shirley Thatcher and Len Swenson
1984  Clark Nattkemper
1983  Barbara Meyn
1982  Joel Hedgpeth
1981  Ken Stocking
1980  Ernie Smith, Martha Bentley and Iva Warner
1979  Virginia Hechtman
1978  Chuck Rhinehart
1977  John Crevelli
1975  Chuck and Jean Hinkle

Special Recognitions

2018 Caitlin Cornwall and Betty Young, Leadership in Post-Fire Ecosystem Regeneration
2014  Wendy Krupnik, Queen Bee
2012  Duane De Witt, Outstanding Grassroots Environmentalist
2008 Iva Warner
2007 City of Sebastopol Sustainability Program
2006 Portia Sinnott, Environmental Innovator of the Year (LITE Initiatives)
2005 Pat Wiggins and Keith Kaulum (COAAST founders)
2004 Ann Hancock
2003 Ann Stroberger
1998 Frances Tanti
1997 Teresa Ramondo

Sonoma County Young Environmentalist of the Year
Initiated in 2011, this award is granted to younger people who are stepping up to help protect and restore our environment.

2011  Jessica Jones, Student Vice President of Santa Rosa Junior College

Ernestine I. Smith Lifetime Environmental Commitment Award
Initiated in 1994, this award is granted to persons who are recognized by the SCCC as having devoted a major part of their lives working for the conservation and improvement of the natural environment.

2014   Anne Teller and family, Oak Hill Farm
2012   Roger Raiche
2009  Betty Guggolz and Betty Burridge
2008  Brenda Adelman
2007  Bernie Album
2006  Peter Leveque and Phyllis Schmitt
2005  Marty Griffin and Ken Stocking
2003  Barbara Biebush
2002  Martha Bentley
2001  George Ellman
2000  Dick Day
1999  Bill Kortum
1998  Chuck Rhinehart
1997  Len Swenson
1996  Clark Nattkemper
1995  Barbara Meyn
1994  Ernestine Smith

Outstanding Educators, Projects and Programs Award
Initiated in 1990, these awards are granted to persons, projects and programs recognized by the SCCC as having used special innovation and insight to teach students – young and old, about the environment.

2014  STRAW: Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed
2012  Nichole Warwick, Sebastopol schools
2011   Conservation Corps: North Bay
2010  Daily Acts (Trathen Heckman)
2009  Cotati Creek Critters (Jenny Blaker and Wade Belew)
2009  Pachamama Alliance
2008  Cool Schools Program, Climate Protection Campaign (Maitreyi Siriguri)
2008  Leadership Training for a Sustainable Future and Sonoma Academy Youth Program (Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy)
2007  Michael Teller
2007  In Our Own Backyard and Adventures in the Big Outdoors (Land Paths)
2007  Sonoma County Conservation Action
2006  Danny Bever, Jeff Tobes, Wendy Losee, and Tina Poles
2006  The Student Commute Project (Analy High School AP Statistics Class)
2006  Environmental Pilot Program (Oak Grove Union School District)
2006  Bouverie Preserve Docents and Audubon Canyon Ranch (Madrone Audubon)
2006  Russian River State Parks Environmental Education Program (Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods)
2005  Bonny Stene
2004  Dave Casey and John Klobas
2003  Fred Hall
2002  Krista McAtee
2001  North Bay Science Project (Sharon Janulaw)
2000  Sharon Mansfield
1999  Marci Cook and David Neubacher
1998  Kathy Angell and Mike Heffernan
1997  Tom Furrer, Jennifer Creeth and Ron Head
1996  Chris Peterson, Paula Fogarty, Kathy Angell, Anne Harris, and Leslie Supan
1995  Kathy Vyenielo