Mark LaBarbera addressed that national conference of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies years ago about working with the media and communicating with the next generation.
OHEC Board Secretary Coni LaBarbera accepted the WWF award for State Conservation Organization of the Year.
The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation announced August 15 that Mark LaBarbera of Hazel Green is being honored as “2020 Conservation Communicator of the Year.” WWF also named the Outdoor Heritage Education Center non-profit group as its “State Conservation Organization of the Year.”
LaBarbera is Founder and chief volunteer for OHEC, guiding its R3 efforts and adding an historic dual honors twist to the prestigious WWF annual awards program for outstanding contributions to the conservation of natural resources. WWF Executive Director and former DNR Secretary George Meyer praised the work of the WWF award recipients as he and WWF President Craig Challoner conducted a statewide meeting via Zoom.
“Like all of our OHEC volunteer mentors, we are surprised and honored to be recognized. Thank you,” said LaBarbera when notified by WWF Awards Committee Chair Lil Pipping.
Pipping said the Federation’s top communicator honor is awarded to one person in the state who stands out above all others in communicating effectively about important and timely conservation issues.
The State Conservation Organization of the Year Award goes to a statewide or local organizations including sportsmen’s clubs or civic organizations that are eligible. The recipient’s consistent work must have demonstrated keen interest in projects and programs within the state which deal with significant natural resources related issues.
The mission of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is to conserve Wisconsin’s wildlife, natural resources and outdoor sporting heritage through conservation education and advocating for strong conservation policies on state and national levels. Its website says, “WWF is the state’s largest conservation organization comprised of over 200 hundred conservation organizations. The Federation is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt member-supported nonprofit organization and is an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.” It includes businesses, clubs and sporting conservation groups made up of thousands of hunters, anglers, trappers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
LaBarbera has been the Founder and Chief Volunteer of the Outdoor Heritage Education Center charitable nonprofit organization for more than two decades. OHEC is about to unveil new communications tools, including top-notch website OHECyes.org and online magazine “LearnTheOutdoors.com” designed to recruit, retain and reactivate outdoor enthusiasts. He launched and organizes the annual Midwest Outdoor Heritage Education Expo each year, reaching about 3,000 students. He edits and publishes SCI HUNTERS magazine for chapters in Wisconsin and Illinois, writes an outdoors column for Morris Newspapers of Wisconsin, and produces outdoor TV and online video programs with Dan Small on public TV, Fox Sports North in five states and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
LaBarbera is a regional director of WWF and a delegate to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. He wrote the strategic plan being implemented currently for the Wisc. Youth Conservation Congress. He also serves on the Wisconsin Sporting Heritage Council appointed by the Natural Resources Board and as Vice-Chair and former Treasurer of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.