Surprise ‘Charlie Award’ recipient the ‘most deserving’ conservationist of all


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Vince Lamb, co-founder of Preserve Brevard, received his own Charlie Award.

photo by Linda Wiggins

The third annual Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards dinner on Earth Day April 22 included a surprise that awardees said was the most important honor of all: a nod to the event’s emcee since its inception, Vince Lamb, one of the founders of event co-sponsor Preserve Brevard.

The “Charlie Award,” so named because it includes the most famous photo of renowned nature photographer Charlie Corbeil for whom the awards are named, was presented at the close of the evening by 2015 Charlie recipient Dr. Duane De Freese.

“With each year that goes by, there is an ever more glaring omission. Vince Lamb was a close friend of Charlie Corbeil, and like him a Florida Master Naturalist passionate to share his knowledge with others, and a tremendous nature photographer always happy to share his art to inspire others,” De Freese said, holding the award that features a photo of a fuzzy sandhill crane chick nestled in its mother’s back feathers. On close inspection, Corbeil’s image behind the lens is forever captured in the chick’s eye reflection.

“But Vince is busy working behind the scenes and would never name himself,” De Freese continued in front of scores of who’s who among local and regional conservationists at the Heritage Isle ballroom adjacent to the Viera Wetlands frequented by Corbeil and Lamb. “So we have done it for him. He is in many ways the most deserving of all.”

Organizing host sponsor of the event was Senior Life sister paper Viera Voice, which ran Corbeil’s popular nature column alongside his photos, Parting Shot. Written mostly by his widow, Charlotte Corbeil, she now writes the Viera Voice column Charlotte’s Web-spinning Tales and invites submissions by budding and established nature photographers.

Corbeil donates more than $1,000 each year in cash prizes for the event’s tandem children’s conservation art, photography and writing contest. Submissions were on display at the event and awards were given out April 25 at sponsor Pizza Gallery and Grill at The Avenue Viera.

While “The Charlies” reward volunteers, community leaders and experts in conservation to fan their efforts and to inspire others to follow suit “from the St. Johns River to the beaches and beyond,” and though the event focuses on the Viera Wetlands that Corbeil put on the map through the Viera Voice birding guide that bears his name and photos, this year’s honorees were picked for a special purpose.

“In many aspects, 2016 is the Year of the Indian River Lagoon,” Lamb said, referring to the recent massive fish kill ripped from the headlines and social media newsfeeds around the world. The most likely main cause is lawn fertilizers washed into the lagoon resulting in a bloom of brown algae that robbed oxygen from the water as it decomposed, calling for grassroots consumer awareness.

“It’s no coincidence that many of our award recipients this year are involved in restoring the health of the Indian River Lagoon. It’s one thing we can all agree on as a top priority,” Lamb said.

For photos and comments from 2016 recipients Mike Conneen of Anglers for Conservation, Dr. John Windsor of the Environmental Sciences program at the Florida Institute of Technology, Nichole Perna of the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands program, Maureen Rupe of The Partnership for a Sustainable Future, retired project scientist for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary program Bob Day and Dr. Leesa Souto of the Marine Resources Council and their award presenters, all past Charlie recipients, read the article

For more information on the awards or to find out what you can do to protect the lagoon or other natural environments, email Lamb at vince@vincelamb.com or call 321-258-5168.

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