Want great conservationists? Hook them while they’re young


Charlotte Corbeil, researching a column at the Viera Wetlands, hopes to create a new generation of “Charlies” through the Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards youth arts contest.

Linda Wiggins

For Viera resident Charlotte Corbeil, art and nature are one and the same. So it made perfect sense to honor the memory of her husband, Charlie, with more than $1,000 in cash prizes to encourage children to take photographs, draw or paint pictures and write essays that convey the beauty of nature and inspire mankind to steward that precious resource.

“To view and behold nature in its true form is a joy,” said Corbeil, who writes a column in Viera Voice called Charlotte’s Web-Spinning Tales. She invites photographers to submit their favorite nature photo to accompany the column, a role her beloved Charlie used to fill for their former column, Parting Shot.

“Moreover, the appreciation of nature is further enhanced through art, photography, or prose and poetry,” she added. “Participation in these fields at an early age leads to the conservation of nature.”

The winning works of the students will be unveiled at the Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 9 at the Heritage Isle Clubhouse Ballroom in Viera. Hosted by Viera Voice and the nonprofit Preserve Brevard, the awards acknowledge individuals who have made great strides in conservation. The student works will also be displayed at the Viera Wetlands Nature Festival, which Corbeil helped launch six years ago, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 11.

Corbeil, who died unexpectedly in late 2013, was well regarded in conservation circles, holding a certification as a Florida Master Naturalist and whose nature photography is displayed all over the world. He was among the original “Wetlands Rangers” at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Viera Wetlands, pointing out wildlife and helping budding nature photographers build their skill, and promoting the unique site in his travels worldwide.

Charlotte Corbeil said the student arts contest is a great way to raise up future “Charlies.”

“A child might be introduced by a parent, an educator, or a special group, such as scouting. For example, Charlie Corbeil became a conservationist at an early age through the Boy Scouts of America where he earned his Eagle Scout badge. Then, in his adulthood, he resumed his conservation efforts through photography, nature articles and volunteer work. Thus, he hoped to protect the precious creatures and their habitats.”

For more information on the student arts contest or to purchase tickets for the conservation awards dinner, go to TheCharlieAwards.org or call 321-242-1235.