Conservation awards honor Corbeil, inspire others to continue hard work


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River Grace hopes to inspire other youth to greater conservation at the Friday, April 25 Corbeil Conservation Awards at the Holiday Inn Viera.

Viera Voice Michael Grace

When River Grace’s parents introduced him to conservation as a young child, it sparked an interest. Repeat exposure kindled affinity. His passion now in full flame, awards and acclaim from the scientific community for the 14-year-old’s research and discoveries continue to mount.

He wants to share his contagious passion for conservation with other youngsters.

Grace will be the co-presenter of the Corbeil Conservation Awards at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 at the Holiday Inn Viera sponsored by Viera Voice. The dinner honors the memory of Viera Florida Master Naturalist and nature photographer Charlie Corbeil of Viera, who died last year.

Corbeil’s work will be featured at the  annual Brevard County-sponsored Viera Wetlands Nature Festival the following day, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

“I want to tell young people that without conservation, our planet will not survive,” said Grace, who in October won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation prize for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) excellence as a part of the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition and several math and science awards since.

“I want them to know that by sparking an interest that grows into a passion, they can make a positive impact and help save these wonderful natural places that we need to preserve if our future generations are going to be able to admire them,” Grace said.

While showcasing the Viera Wetlands, the Corbeil Awards will be an annual event to acknowledge the hard work conservationists do in our community from the St. Johns River to the beach and beyond, said fellow event awards presenter and master of ceremonies Vice Lamb, founder of Preserve Brevard.

“We hear a lot about the harm mankind is doing to our environment, and that is an important first step,” Lamb said. “This event will highlight some of the things mankind is doing right for the mutual benefit of mankind and nature that can spark other solutions.”

The event features two tracks, one for adults led by Lamb and one specifically designed for children led by Grace, known as a dynamic speaker especially talented at inspiring fellow youth.

In addition to Corbeil Conservation Awards for adults, prizes will be awarded to youth in the categories of art, photography and writing. Submitted works must be preceded by a visit to the Viera Wetlands and are due by April 14. The works of finalists will be on display along with nature exhibits in the convention center foyer at no charge, open to the public.

Dinner tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for youth to age 17. For more information and tickets go to conservationawards@blogspot.com or call 321-258-5168.