WILLAPA — Jackie Ferrier, the hard-working leader at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex, has won a top national award.
She has been named the 2019 Paul Kroegel National Wildlife Refuge System Refuge Manager of the Year.
Presented by the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and given in honor of Kroegel, the first manager of a national wildlife refuge, the award recognizes outstanding accomplishment by a refuge manager in the protection and management of national wildlife refuges.
A female first
This is the first time in the award’s 25-year history that a female manager has been selected.
“It’s exciting,” said Ferrier, who will be honored at a dinner in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27. “I am just tickled, because there are so many dedicated people in the National Refuges who do incredible work.”
The group highlighted several programs that contributed to the award, as well as her managing of a staff whose expertise crosses several disciplines.
“Ms. Ferrier’s extraordinary work taking on the complex issues makes her most deserving of this award,” said Geoffrey Haskett, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, a group which supports the federal government in its wildlife and habitat protection programs.
“Her efforts on Spartina alterniflora eradication, dune restoration, protections for listed species including plovers, larks, and endangered Columbian white-tailed deer are only a few examples of the remarkable work she is doing on behalf of species and refuges.”
Ferrier since 2010
Ferrier has been project leader for the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex since 2010. The Willapa complex consists of Willapa as well as the Julia Butler Hansen and Lewis and Clark refuges.
Kathy Freitas, president of the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, applauded the decision to honor Ferrier.
“Being a project leader involves complex interactions with all levels of government, private parties, staff, and volunteers on a daily basis. Jackie’s ability to manage all those entities with her expertise, experience, and enthusiasm is nothing short of inspiring. Her passion for the work of the Willapa refuge continues to inspire the Friends’ mission to support and bring recognition to the refuge.”
“Jackie is a listener and a doer and a gatherer of ideas and people,” Freitas added. “On her own time, she attends every Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge board meeting, hears our sometimes crazy ideas, but then does her level best to try to make them happen. If the final answer is no, there is always a reasonable explanation.”
Ferrier, 48, began her professional career after experience as a volunteer in upstate New York. Her first job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was working with reptiles and amphibians at Great Swamp in New Jersey while completing her master’s degree. She later served at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge on the Colorado River in Arizona and another refuge in Sacramento, Calif., before moving to Pacific County.
She agreed that she is passionate about her work. “We have the best mission in the federal government, to be able to work for wildlife and habitat, and improve places for people to visit,” she said.