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.




Donald Boesch is the recipient of RNRF’s 2020 Sustained Achievement Award. The award recognizes a long-term contribution and commitment to the conservation and protection of natural resources by an individual.

Arguably, Boesch's most lasting legacy of 40 years of academic and scientific leadership is the influence he has had on his peers and mentoring of early career scientists. His charismatic leadership on scientific advisory committees, particularly his insistence on ensuring diversity and inclusion of early career professionals, has had an immense impact. Committee members and the convening entities have become more effective by observing and following his guidance. Boesch has been an articulate and effective champion for the importance of independent and unbiased science to inform landscape-scale policy and management actions, evidenced by:

  • Ten years energizing and setting the foundation for the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium as executive director and professor at Louisiana State University. His lifetime interest in the problems of coastal Louisiana include chairing the LCA Science Board, appointment by President Obama to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Future of Offshore Drilling, and as a fellow of the Walton Family Foundation for the future of the Mississippi River Delta.
  • 27 years as president of UMCES guiding the growth and establishing UMCES as a trusted source of independent science to guide Maryland policy and management. He established an indelible legacy for the Chesapeake Bay and has been central in addressing wicked problems such as climate change, conservation, nutrient pollution, eutrophication and fisheries management. His role on advisory boards and commissions includes the Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland Governor’s Chesapeake Bay Cabinet (over the terms of five governors), Maryland Climate Change Commission (chairing its scientific and technical working group), and leading the Maryland-Delaware Climate Change Education, Assessment and Research (MADE Clear) program has made him an icon in Maryland. Governor O’Malley honored him as Admiral of Chesapeake Bay.

Internationally, Boesch is a proven leader and has been invited to provide vision on restoration efforts from the Everglades to San Francisco Bay to the Baltic Sea. Notably, he served as chair of the National Academies’ Ocean Studies Board.

Over more than forty years of service, he has authored two books and nearly 100 papers cited nearly 15,000 times (Google Scholar) on marine ecology and oceanography of estuaries, wetlands, continental shelves, oil pollution, nutrient-loading, assessment, monitoring and science policy.

He holds a B.S. in biology from Tulane University and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the College of William and Mary.


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

2020 - Donald Boesch, Annapolis, Maryland




Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates is the recipient of RNRF’s 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award. This award recognizes a project, publication, piece of legislation, or similar concrete accomplishment in the natural resources field.

Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates tells the story of the long-distance migrations that elk, mule deer, moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, and mountain goats make each spring and fall across the landscapes of the American West. This book is the definitive synthesis of these epic journeys as seen through the eyes of the biologists and wildlife managers who have studied the ungulates, or hoofed mammals, of Wyoming.

A century and a half ago, the push of western expansion persecuted these great herds, and some were lost. In the early twentieth century, a new ethic of wildlife conservation helped big game populations recover as the West was settled. Today many of these herds again roam Wyoming’s mountains and plains. Now for the first time, scientists armed with new satellite technology are discovering and describing ungulate migrations in detail never seen before.

Each spread in this full color book investigates an ecological, historical, or conservation aspect of migration through clear and compelling maps, graphics, and photos. Using a narrative style that is both accessible and scientifically rigorous, this atlas tells the nuanced story of wildlife migration, the scientists who are studying it, and the conservationists who are working to keep wild migrations flowing across western landscapes.

More information about Wild Migrations can be found here.


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)

2020 - Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming's Ungulates (accepted by Matthew Kauffman, James Meacham, Emilene Ostlind, William Rudd, Hall Sawyer, and Alethea Steingisser)




“Concrete: The most destructive material on Earth,” written by the Guardian’s global environment editor Jonathan Watts, is the recipient of RNRF’s 2020 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.

“Concrete: The most destructive material on Earth” is an innovative long read about a material that is more ubiquitous than plastic and a bigger source of carbon emissions than all but two of the world’s countries. The writer combines jaw-dropping statistical analysis, vivid description and his previous experience as a correspondent in Japan, China and Brazil to reveal the deep flaws in a global development model that relies so heavily on this product.

This article exposes the huge environmental impact of concrete, which has been under-reported for decades. The extraction of the composite elements - sand, aggregate and water - are a growing source of problems, including air pollution, traffic and depletion of river-beds and beaches. Greater still is the loss of fertile land and ecosystems when they are covered in a concrete shell. Watts cites scientific studies, think-tank analysis and landscape philosophy to reveal the implications.

This article, which kicked off the Guardian’s concrete week, was - for a while - the most-viewed article on the website with more than 800,000 unique page views and sparked a debate among policymakers, urban planners and architects about switching to alternative building materials, such as cross-laminated timber. It prompted the Guardian’s Scott Trust to revise its investment strategy to reduce exposure to the cement industry. The story was selected as the best piece published by the Guardian in 2019.

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

2020 - "Concrete: The most destructive material on Earth," by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian



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

2020 - Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge, Maryland