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The Foundation has three annual awards to recognize outstanding achievements in the renewable resources fields. Two of the awards—established in 1992—were the first awards to honor interdisciplinary achievements with an emphasis on the application of sound scientific practices in managing and conserving renewable natural resources.

The Sustained Achievement Award recognizes a long-term contribution and commitment to the protection and conservation of natural resources by an individual.

The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes a project, publication, piece of legislation, or similar concrete accomplishment that occurred during the three years prior to nomination for the award. Visual media such as films or videos, audio media such as podcasts, and technical publications such as reference books and proceedings are eligible for this award. (An individual cannot receive this award.)

RNRF's Excellence in Journalism Award, established in 2001, honors and encourages excellence in print journalism about natural resources. RNRF seeks to advance public education and understanding of important natural resource issues through the dissemination of accurate and scientifically-based information about the environment. The award recognizes work by an individual, group, or organization for both print and digital media (such as an online report, or article/feature in a newspaper, magazine, journal, or newsletter). General interest books and online videos, documentaries, and podcasts are not eligible.

RNRF also presents a Chairman's Award for professional service to the foundation.




Douglas Karlen is the recipient of RNRF’s 2019 Sustained Achievement Award. The award recognizes a long-term contribution and commitment to the conservation and protection of natural resources by an individual.

Karlen retired in March from his position as a Research Soil Scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Over the course of his 40+ year career, he has advanced the protection of soil as a critical natural resource by mentoring soil scientists and agronomists and developing, and promoting scientifically sound agricultural management practices to protect and conserve soil and water resources.

He is internationally recognized for soil health/quality assessment and bioenergy feedstock harvest strategies for sustainable food, feed, fiber and fuel production. He has nearly 400 refereed journal, book chapter, and proceedings publications with 36 in peer-reviewed journals.

He has numerous accomplishments and contributions. These include service on the National Academy of Sciences Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels panel, advising for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, and serving as a contributing author for the International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) “Responses to Soil Degradation” report.

He holds a B.S. in soil science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.S. in soil science from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in agronomy from Kansas State University.


1992 - Gilbert F. White, Boulder, Colorado

1993 - Marion Clawson, Washington, District of Columbia

1994 - E. William Anderson, Lake Oswego, Oregon

1995 - William E. Larson, St. Paul, Minnesota

1996 - William M. Lewis Jr., Boulder, Colorado

1997 - William B. Stapp, Ann Arbor, Michigan

1998 - Jane Lubchenco, Corvallis, Oregon

1999 - Jack Ward Thomas, Missoula, Montana

2000 - William J. Carroll, Pasadena, California

2001 - John Cairns Jr., Blacksburg, Virginia

2002 - Edward O. Wilson, Cambridge, Massachusetts

2003 - Michael P. Dombeck, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

2004 - L. Pete Heard, Madison, Mississippi

2005 - V. Phillip Rasmussen Jr., Logan, Utah

2006 - Heidi Margrit McAllister, Silver Spring, Maryland

2007 - Cecil Lue-Hing, Burr Ridge, Illinois

2008 - William Matuszeski, Washington, District of Columbia

2009 - Frank H. Wadsworth, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

2010 - William H. Schlesinger, Millbrook, New York

2011 - Richard B. Alley, University Park, Pennsylvania

2012 - Frederick R. Steiner, Austin, Texas

2013 - Albert Arnold "Al" Gore Jr, Nashville, Tennessee

2014 - Lynn Scarlett, Arlington, Virginia

2015 - Gerald E. Galloway Jr, College Park, Maryland

2016 - Alexander E. MacDonald, Boulder, Colorado

2017 - Rattan Lal, Columbus, Ohio

2019 - Douglas Karlen, Ames, Iowa




The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering with Nature (EWN) program is the recipient of RNRF’s 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award. This award recognizes a project, publication, piece of legislation, or similar concrete accomplishment in the natural resources field.

Since 2010, the EWN initiative has contributed to the understanding and implementation of approaches to integrate natural resources systems with conventional infrastructure to deliver more sustainable and resilient solutions. In January 2019, the EWN initiative reached a significant milestone with the release of Engineering with Nature: An Atlas, which showcases 56 projects from around the world illustrating the principles and practices of engineering with nature.

The USACE began its EWN program with the expressed purpose of promoting, “the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental and social benefits through collaborative processes.” The EWN program includes communication, research and development, and demonstration activities organized to promote four key elements in infrastructure project development and execution:

  • Using science and engineering to produce operational efficiencies;
  • Applying natural systems and processes to maximum benefit;
  • Broadening and extending the benefits provided by projects to include economic,
    environmental and social benefits; and
  • Employing science‐based collaborative processes to engage, organize and focus interests,
    stakeholders and partners.

Raising public awareness and adoption of the principles and practices of engineering with nature has been a core feature of EWN from the start. Just within the past year, in addition to releasing the Atlas, the EWN team has conducted more than 10 workshops, short courses, presentations, and other meetings to promote engineering with nature, including a briefing on Capitol Hill and an 8‐hr. short course during ASCE's International Conference on Coastal Engineering in July 2018.

More information about the program can be found here


Todd Bridges (left), National Lead, EWN Initiative, accepts
RNRF's 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award on behalf of
the EWN Initiative, presented by John Durrant (right),
Chairman of the RNRF Board of Directors, November 12, 2019.


1992 - Water Resources Education Initiative (accepted by a consortium of nonprofits and federal agencies)
1993 - Illinois Rivers Project (accepted by Illinois River Project, Inc.)
1994 - Continental Conservation Plan (accepted by Ducks Unlimited)
1995 - Manatee Messages Educational Video (accepted by Save the Manatee Club)
1996 - Florida Marine Spill Analysis System (accepted by Florida Department of Environmental Protection)
1997 - Bruneau River Elk Management National Demonstration Area (accepted by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
1998 - New Jersey Shore Cleanup Initiative (accepted by a public/private partnership)
1999 - Guest River Restoration Project (accepted by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
2000 - Snow Goose/Arctic Ecosystem Education Initiative (accepted by Ducks Unlimited)
2001 - Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Practices (accepted by NRCS on behalf of a consortium of federal agencies including ARS, CSREES, USFS, EPA, TVA, FEMA, NOAA/NMFS, USACE, HUD, BLM, BOR, FWS, NPS, USGS/BRD/WRD)
2002 - Natural Resources Leadership Course for Extension Agents (accepted by Cooperative Extension at Texas A&M University)
2003 - Seafood Lover's Almanac (accepted by National Audubon Society)
2004 - The State of the Nation's Ecosystems: Measuring the Lands, Waters, and Living Resources of the United States (accepted by The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment)
2005 - Life at the Water's Edge: A Shoreline Resident's Guide to Natural Lakeshore and Streamside Buffers for Water Quality Protection (accepted by Cooperative Extension at Clemson University)
2006 - Putting Communities in Charge: A Progress Report on an Educational Support System for Local Land Use Decision Makers (accepted by the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) program of Cooperative Extension at the University of Connecticut)
2007 - Draft National Coastal Assessment (accepted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Gulf Ecology Division) The draft assessment was nominated in January 2007 in anticipation that the final assessment would be released early in 2007. When the George W Bush Administration decided not to post or publicly release the draft or final assessment in a timely fashion, the RNRF Jury selected the draft assessment to receive the award. The final assessment was released in December 2008.
2008 - Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast (accepted by Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Governor's Office of Coastal Activities)
2009 - Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, an exhibition in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History
2010 - Michigan's Water Withdrawal Assessment Process (accepted by Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment)
2011 - LEED for Neighborhood Development (accepted by U.S Green Building Council in partnership with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council)
2012 - Changing Planet (accepted by NBC Learn/NBC News in partnership with the National Science Foundation and Discover magazine)
2013 - Chasing Ice (accepted by Jeff Orlowski, director, producer and cinematographer)
2014 - Sustainability: Water (accepted by NBC Learn in partnership with the National Science Foundation)
2015 - Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (accepted by USDA Forest Service)
2016 - The National Disaster Resilience Competition (accepted by U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Rockefeller Foundation as a collaborator)
2017 - USA National Phenology Network's Start of Spring Maps and Access Tools (accepted by the USA National Phenology Network)
2018 - Regional Program on Transboundary Landscapes (accepted by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development)
2019 - Engineering with Nature (accepted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)




“Sponge City Revolution: Restoring natural water flows in cities can lessen the impacts of floods and droughts,” written by freelance journalist Erica Gies and published in Scientific American, is the recipient of RNRF’s 2019 Excellence in Journalism Award. The award honors and encourages excellence in print journalism about natural resources, part of RNRF’s goal to advance public education and understanding of important natural resources issues through the dissemination of accurate and scientifically-based information about the environment.

The article was written to educate the public about nature-based solutions for adapting to floods in cities, show how early projects are improving the livability of our cities and our planet, and bring these methods more widely into the public conversation.

Urban flooding is an increasing problem all over the world, including in the United States. A recent study querying 350 cities in 48 states found that 83 percent reported they had had urban flooding. A big part of the problem is the expansion of asphalt and concrete that comes with urban sprawl, and channelization of rivers that leaves heavy water flows nowhere to go but up. A small but growing global movement is working to reclaim space for water in cities to reduce floods and capture more water for local supply. China has perhaps the most ambitious version of this, the national sponge city movement, championed by President Xi Jinping. This story looks at China’s efforts so far and offers parallels to U.S. efforts, such as Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters initiative.

The complete article can be found here


2001 - Bay Journal, Karl Blankenship, editor; Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, publisher
2002 - "Georgia's Disappearing Songbirds" by Charles Seabrook, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2003 - "Our Troubled Sound" by a team of reporters led by Robert McClure, Lisa Stiffler, and Lise Olsen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2004 - "Toxic Air: Lingering Health Menace" by Jim Bruggers, The Courier-Journal  (Louisville, Kentucky)
2005 - "Invaded Waters" by Tom Meersman, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
2006 - "Crude Awakening" by a team of reporters, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)
2007 - Platte River Odyssey, the magazine, produced by College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2008 - "Fueling Iowa's Future: Biofuels" by a team of reporters, The Des Moines Register
2009 - "Invasive Species of Oregon," Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon)
2010 - The Chesapeake Watershed: A Sense of Place and a Call to Action, by Ned Tillman
2011 - Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children Ages 3-7, produced by Council for Environmental Education
2012 - "Reversing 300 years of damage / A movement is under way to purge the trash, bacteria and pollution that have long infected the city's heart" by Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun
2013 - Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia's Water Crisis, by Cheryl Colopy
2014 - "Mahogany's Last Stand" by Scott Wallace, freelance writer, published in National Geographic Magazine
2015 - "Louisiana Loses Its Boot" by Brett Anderson, freelance writer, published on Medium
2016 - The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age, by David S. Abraham
2017 - Anthropocene, the magazine, Colorado Global Hub of Future Earth
2018 - "Saving America's Broken Prairie" by David J. Unger, freelance journalist, published in Undark
2019 - "Sponge City Revolution: Restoring natural water flows in cities can lessen the impacts of floods and droughts," by Erica Gies, freelance journalist, published in Scientific American



2001 - Albert A. Grant, Public Interest Member of RNRF Board of Directors, Potomac, Maryland
2002 - John S. Dickey Jr., American Geophysical Union, Washington, District of Columbia
2003 - John Marvin Jones II, JM Jones & Associates LLC, McLean, Virginia;
Robert H. Metz, Linowes and Blocher LLP, Bethesda, Maryland; and
Larry E. Walker, The Walker Group LLC, Bethesda, Maryland
2004 - A.F. Spilhaus Jr., American Geophysical Union, Washington, District of Columbia
2005 - Howard N. Rosen, Society of Wood Science and Technology, Silver Spring, Maryland; and
David L. Trauger, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech, Falls Church, Virginia
2006 - Sarah Gerould, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Reston, Virginia
2007 - Enos K. Fry, Provident Bank, Gaithersburg, Maryland
2008 - Enos K. Fry, Provident Bank, Gaithersburg, Maryland;
Robert H. Metz, Linowes and Blocher LLP, Bethesda, Maryland;
John Marvin Jones II, JM Jones & Associates LLC, McLean, Virginia; and
Larry E. Walker, The Walker Group LLC, Bethesda, Maryland
2010 - Sarah Gerould, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Reston, Virginia
2013 - Ann Cairns, American Geophysical Union, Washington, District of Columbia
2014 - Charles B. Chesnutt, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, Virginia
2015 - Nancy C. Somerville, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, District of Columbia
2016 - Doug Parker, California Institute for Water Resources, University of California - Agriculture and Natural Resources, Oakland, California
2017 - Gerald "Stinger" Guala, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia
2018 - Robert D. Day, Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, North Bethesda, Maryland; and
Leslie A.C. Weldon, U.S. Forest Service, Washington, District of Columbia
2019 - Richard A. Engberg, American Water Resources Association, Middleburg, Virginia

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