Previous Winners

2020 Conservation & Stewardship Environmental Award Winners

COASTAL STEWARD VOLUNTEER – Karen Smith, Audubon Outdoor Club        

Karen Smith has dedicated her time and passion to ensuring that Blucher Park in Downtown Corpus Christi, stays a natural and welcoming place for birders, outdoor enthusiast, native plant lovers and any resident or visitor to the Coastal Bend to enjoy.  Karen, President of the Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi, organizes a group cleanup at Blucher Park, every Monday at 4pm.  They pickup up trash and debris, water, trim and maintain walking trails, all the while assisting the Parks and Recreation Department with the upkeep.  In the past few years, Karen and her group have been the “eyes” on the park where they report to the Parks and Recreation Dept. and Police Department, any problems they find.  She was instrumental in getting the City Council to recognize the issues that overnight camping and trash buildup have caused at the park these past few years.  The Audubon Outdoor Club is an active conservation partner throughout the Coastal Bend, with preserves they own and manage on the island and at Flour Bluff.  Under Karen’s leadership, we are thankful that Corpus Christi is a destination for birders and nature lovers alike.

COASTAL STEWARD PROFESSIONAL – Erin Hill, The Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Erin Hill, a research scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies, TAMUCC, has been studying water quality and water quality issues in the Coastal Bend since she was a graduate student at the Center for Coastal Studies. When Erin discovered that area Colonias* were also experiencing water quality problems, as well as suffering from other environmental difficulties, she decided to jump in and see if she could help.  She started educating herself about Colonias, and then submitted multiple successful grant applications. The grant funds were used to create new environmental education materials in both English and Spanish. 

The program has been so successful, it has been expanded to include a watershed model that demonstrates the effects stormwater runoff has on receiving waters. The Colonias Environmental Education project has been so successful, appreciative residents look forward to more educational opportunities in the future. The program has brought hope and change to a marginalized population.

EDUCATION – K-12- Christina Spears, Rockport-Fulton Middle School

Christina Spears, RFMS Principal engaged all 750 Middle School Students in a “”Day of Kindness to Aransas County”” on Valentine’s Day this year and plans to do so annually.  The day was filled with curriculum(s), short films, discussions, a library presentation on trashes impact on our birds, sea turtles and other animals with a hands-on exhibit showing turtle bites in plastics, fishing line retrieved from turtles and birds, etc.  After lunch, all 750 students fanned out around Aransas County for 2 hours to show environmental kindness to Aransas County. Students planted butterfly pollinators in our pathways, others did cleanups all over the county.

EDUCATION – HIGHER EDUCATION – Kristin Evans, The University of Texas Marine Science Institute and The Mission Aransas Reserve          

Kristin is among the most innovative educators in the Coastal Bend. Evans holds over 25 years of experience which include education, professional services, and hands on pedagogical expertise. The experience she gained and brought with her to the UT Marine Science Institute and The Mission Aransas Reserve enabled she and her team to successfully educate during and post two unpredictable and challenging times. Kristin introduced and involved informal educators in a professional learning program that elevated our understanding of science learning and transformed our practices.  She has shared her expertise particularly by leading teacher workshops, professional development, creating intentional curriculum, maintaining a strong educational team, and seeking funding to do more programming when possible. Kristin has shaped the community of not only teachers and students, but families, and other educators in the informal realm.


Youth Odyssey has been a consistent exhibitor and partner for the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation for Earth Day Bay Day, with participation in the planning phases, and support with running the rock wall exhibit.  While their major focus is not the environment, their efforts and partnerships work to have kids immersed in nature in positive ways.  Some of their other partnerships and activities have included the Grow Local South Texas Learning Garden, Downtown Farmer’s Market, and camps held at the CBBEP Delta.

BUSINESS – Bryan Tumlinson, Island Joe’s Coffee & Gallery

Island Joe’s Coffee and Gallery are always environmentally strong. They always create programs to engage the customer towards conservation. Their latest is if bring in a yellow Don’t Litter bag and return with a bag full of beach trash, they give you a free 16oz Iced Joe. They offer the bags at the coffee shop too.

COASTAL COMMUNITY – Christina Marconi (coordinator), Texas Gulf Region Cooperative Weed Management Area   

The Texas Gulf Region Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) is a voluntary network of public and private stakeholders that are concerned with the management of Brazilian peppertree from Port O’Connor to Packery Channel on the Texas Gulf Coast. The CWMA seeks to prevent the spread and movement of the species by advocating for cooperative control amongst willing landowners and managers. In 2014, the Texas Gulf Region CWMA received a grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to establish the organization and develop a Brazilian peppertree management plan.  Since that time, the CWMA has expanded to include 9 partners and over 30 participating members, including representatives from the City of Port Aransas, Nueces County, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP), Mission-Aransas Reserve/University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI), Sam Houston State University, and members of the community. The CWMA has completed 16 volunteer work days; hosted 19 outreach events; removed Brazilian peppertree from over 240 acres; and improved management on over 9,370 acres of public and managed lands.             

INDUSTRY – Cheniere Corpus Christi Liquefaction Facility    

Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction facility is a prime example of environmental stewardship in the Coastal Bend. Leading in environmental stewardship doesn’t begin at the fence-line but is, instead, engrained into the way Cheniere operates. Their facility utilizes GE dry emission turbines as opposed to the traditional water injected turbines which is a deliberate technologic switch that substantially reduces the water needed to create the product. Through the years of construction and operations, Cheniere has invested $8M to restore and build breakwaters at Shamrock Island and Ransom Point located in Corpus Christi Bay to protect rookeries and endangered habitats. This year, Cheniere invested another $100,000 in order to help halt the declines in heron, egret, pelican and other colonial waterbird populations in our region. This investment comes at a time of financial belt-tightening throughout industry and demonstrates that the efforts our neighbors are taking to manage our local rookeries and restore our island habitats are a genuine priority for our company. Additionally, TX HWY 35, outside of the Cheniere facility, has been dedicated to, and maintained by, Cheniere employees under the State of Texas Adopt a Highway Program. This year, Cheniere employees continued the tradition of recurring TXDOT highway cleanups. Cheniere is a company that practices what it preaches.  From the facilities they build, to the investments they make in our community, to the manner in which their employees volunteer – Cheniere is a leader in environmental stewardship

President’s Award- Bob Wallace Robert Wallace, Bob, was0 one of the major players in getting the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation (CBBF) and later the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) established, setting up the organization, guiding the professional staff, and building the program. When the CBBEP first started over 20 years ago the annual operating budget comprised funding almost entirely from EPA, TCEQ, PCCA, City of Corpus Christi, San Patricio County, Nueces County, and Port Industries. Bob has helped the CBBEP grow the operating budget, acquire real property valued at over $30 million, and currently over $24 million dollars in projects underway aimed at improving and protecting the Coastal Bend’s natural resources. While a lot of both of these organization’s growth has been created by Ray Allen and his staff, Bob has been an integral leader in obtaining grants from various federal, state, and local governments and charitable organizations, supplemental environmental projects, and court settlements through his broad network of contacts and political connections. Some of the major projects he has been actively involved in have included the raising of the JFK Causeway, protecting Shamrock Island, acquiring the Nueces Delta Preserve, acquiring valuable whooping crane habitat along the Mission River. We are forever indebted to Bob Wallace for his tireless efforts and for being an exemplary leader in following the CBBEP mission to protect and restore the health and productivity of the bays and estuaries while supporting continued economic growth and public use of the bays.