The President’s award is given to individuals that inspire vision and leadership within the Coastal Bend environmental community. Scott Holt was selected for the President’s award because of his steadfast efforts in developing and preserving natural habitats. As a retired fisheries biologist with the University, Scott has been able to apply his expertise in understanding ecosystems to helping preserve the right habitats in the right locations. He was integral in the creation of the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond in Port Aransas Texas. This haven for wildlife is a 2-acre habitat is a stop on the spring migratory route for smaller warblers and other songbirds, while many feathered friends call the pond home all year long. The wheelchair accessible boardwalk and 3 observation decks provide easy access to get "up close and personal" with the birds under a mantle of trees. Scott’s dedication to the local environment has ensured that future generations will be able to enjoy and appreciate the habitats that pull people to the area.
Dr. Ken Dunton was selected for the president’s award because of his research efforts and mentorship of students. He has helped shape and support hundreds of students’ interest and passion for marine science. In 1985, he and his wife Susan moved to Port Aransas and began working at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute where he blended his expertise for research with his love of teaching. During his tenure he has established several successful and meaningful programs, including the UT Summer Science program that instructs 3rd to 8th grade kids about scientific methods and enable them to participate in activities that get them excited about the environment and conservation. This program hosts four week-long programs throughout the summer with dozens of scientific experts teaching the kids about marine science. Dunton has also established a seagrass monitoring program that monitors 95% of the seagrasses in Texas. In addition, his research and participation on numerous advisory committees has helped the state of Texas establish freshwater inflows for Nueces Bay and San Antonio Bays. His students see him as a mentor for his environmental work, his enthusiastic teaching style, and his passion for getting the next generation involved in real science.
Jace Tunnell was awarded the Coastal Steward for his dedication to the preservation and conservation of the Coastal Bend’s natural resources without any expectation of compensation or recognition. Tunnell has initiated ad hoc community trash cleanups and helped plan marsh planting events. He participates regularly in important conservation efforts to protect birds, habitats, and wildlife, and has been involved in several key efforts to bring large groups of communities together to communicate about the environment, such as the Baffin Bay Study Group and the South Texas Environmental Professionals. Tunnell is also interested in promoting a sense of stewardship to the local community. In particular Jace Tunnell has a knack for creating videos that invoke inspiration about conserving our local coastal resources. He has also published a book with his father titled ‘Pioneering Archaeology in the Texas Coastal Bend,’ with the hopes that some of the Coastal Bend archaeological sites might someday be protected through conservation. His passion for the environment goes above and beyond what is required of him through his job. He is an advocate for conservation, educating people on the importance of nature so that the next generation can enjoy the same experiences we have enjoyed.
The Coastal Bend Bays Foundation is a public interest organization dedicated to the conservation of freshwater and coastal natural resources for current and future generations through consensus, facilitation, communication, advocacy, research and education.