Event honors environmental heroes

Nature lovers of all ages honor memory of Charlie Corbeil


Picking up awards at the inaugural Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards dinner given by Vince Lamb, left, were Marcia Booth, Kim Wright, Sue Small, Doug Voltolina, Tony Sasso, River Grace, Virginia Barker, Jim Angy, Kathleen Hill and Capt. Rodney Smith.

Photo by Viera Voice Mike Gaffey

The inaugural Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards Dinner April 25 at Holiday Inn Melbourne-Viera Convention Center honored the memory and accomplishments of the Florida Master Naturalist, nature photographer and Suntree resident who died late last year, as well as the efforts of local conservationists. It was held on the eve of the fifth annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival, which Corbeil helped establish.

In addition to posthumous awards for Corbeil and young conservationist and Viera Wetlands fan Justin Mitchell, who died last April, awards went to 10 recipients for their work in preserving the environment and wildlife “from the St. Johns River to the beach and beyond.” The event was sponsored by Viera Voice of Bluewater Creative Group, which also publishes Senior Life and the Viera Wetlands Birding Guide.

Honorees included: 

  • Marcia Booth, president and founder of Recycle Brevard
  • Justin Mitchell, with his  mother, Kim Wright, accepting his award
  • Sue Small, director of  Florida Wildlife Hospital
  • Doug Voltolina, Southern Region land manager for the St. Johns River Water Management District
  • Tony Sasso, executive director of Keep Brevard Beautiful
  • A surprise award was given to River Grace, a 14-year-old West Melbourne student who made national headlines recently for his studies of the Madagascar radiated tortoise, a featured speaker at the event who oversaw separate conservation programming just for youth.
  • Virginia Barker, Watershed Program manager for the Brevard County Natural Resources Department
  • Jim Angy for his Viera Wetlands nature photography.
  • Kathleen Hill, education coordinator for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program.
  • Capt. Rodney Smith, executive director of Anglers for Conservation.
  • Amy Reaume, conservation coordinator for the Brevard Zoo. 

Emcee and awards presenter was Vince Lamb, a founder of Preserve Brevard. Dinner keynote speaker was Brevard Zoo executive director Keith Winsten, internationally respected for his conservation efforts. 

In addition to the Corbeil awards, prizes went to youth in grades kindergarten through 12th who submitted winning art, photography and 250-word essays with a focus on wildlife in the Viera Wetlands. Winners of a $50 top prize are Ariana Valdiviezo, 10, for art; Tori Baker, 17, for photography; and Eric Vitaliano, 12, for essay/poetry. For more information, call 321-242-1235.