Corbeil's legacy lives on through Charlie Award recipients


The environmental legacy of the late Charlie Corbeil is alive and well in the deeds of the 2016 recipients for the awards named in his honor.

Hosted by Viera Voice and Preserve Brevard, the third annual Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards, known as “The Charlies” was held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, April 22 at the Heritage Isle Club, 6800 Legacy Blvd. in Melbourne.

The keynote speaker was Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, member of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition.

Named for the beloved Florida Master Naturalist, the Charlie Award is a framed print of Corbeil’s now-iconic photograph of a baby sandhill crane, all but hidden within in its mother’s back feathers.

Corbeil was an award-winning nature photographer and avid proponent of the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, as well as
a contributing photographer and writer for Viera Voice.

The 2015 Charlie winners will present the awards to this year’s winning conservationists.

The 2016 Charlie Awards recipients are:

 Dr. John Windsor | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESDr. John Windsor is  chairman of the Environmental Sciences program at Florida Tech. He developed Science Education at Sea (SEAS), a program that took high-tech research tools to school-age and college students in a mobile sea lab. 

“Over the last 35 years, I have tried to share the message about restoring and managing Indian River Lagoon resources. Effective management of any resource requires some ownership. Because we don’t have to pay for ‘the environment’ we often use the resource without considering short term and long term impacts. We probably don’t manage our home budgets that way,” he said.

Nichole Perna | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESNichole Perna is assistant land manager with the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program. Perna works on wildlifemanagement and shoreline restoration at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge and received a grant from the Sea Turtle License Plate Grant Program to update exhibits at the Barrier Island Center. 

She also assisted on Diamondback Terrapin monitoring, oversaw invasive species control projects within the refuge and led guided sea turtle walks. She is an expert on native plants and assists with shorebird monitoring. She volunteered her Melbourne Beach yard for inclusion on the Landscaping with Florida Natives Tour hosted by the Conradina Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Mike Conneen | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESMike Conneen is executive director of Anglers for Conservation which was formed in 2007. Some of the programs include Hook Kids on Fishing, Take A Vet Fishing, Advanced Teen Angling Camp and Ecoscape Days.

He began his advocacy by becoming a volunteer making oyster mats with the Brevard Zoo.

“My thousands of volunteer hours are paid for by Mother Nature and what she provides to all of us. To be able to go outside and enjoy clean air and water is a gift beyond belief. It does not cost a cent to do so, but I believe a returned favor is due.”

Maureen Rupe | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESMaureen Rupe is founder and chairperson of The Partnership for a Sustainable Future, a 30,000-member coalition of diverse groups with a mission devoted “to establishing and maintaining an economically and environmentally sustainable future for Brevard County.” 

She has served on the board of directors of the Space Coast League of Women Voters and chair of the Natural Resources Committee. 

Since 2004, she has served on the board of directors of the Marine Resources Council and of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance. She speaks for the environment at numerous commission meetings.

Bob Day | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESBob Day, retired project scientist for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, remains an active volunteer. He helped develop the IRL Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and managed the Citizens Water Quality Monitoring Program
and Shoreline Restoration for the Lagoon.

As a volunteer, he was a founder of Friends of the 1000 Islands and of Preserve Brevard, Inc. He has served as chair of the Cocoa Beach Waterways Board and served on the Cocoa Beach Land Management Committee. He currently serves as vice chair of the Brevard Nature Alliance and the Marine Resources Council.

Dr. Leesa Souto | PHOTO BY MARC RHODESDr. Leesa Souto, executive director of the Marine Resources Council, works to build awareness and provide meaningful solutions for problems impacting the Indian River Lagoon. 

During the strong fertilizer ordinance meetings, Souto provided a science-based voice to counter the fertilizer industry. She also revived the Indian River American Assembly to build consensus for the lagoon.

When she worked in the county Natural Resources Office, she developed the bin design used for the monofilament recovery and recycling program and secured a grant to coordinate workshops to spread the program statewide. The national park service later adopted her design nationwide.  

For more information, call 321-258-5168 or go to For a photo gallery of the event, visit here.