The Ferdun Conservation Award commemorates the steady, committed and visionary work of Gareth and Georgenne Ferdun, two of the founders of Lower Nehalem Community Trust. Their vision and love for the North Oregon Coast has been inspirational since the very beginning of the Trust. The Ferdun’s commitment to conservation is exemplified by honoring others who, like them, have significantly contributed to the protection of our natural world.
Since 2014, the Trust has presented this award to a local citizen who exemplifies the Ferduns’ spirit of conservation and deep love of the North Coast. This year’s recipients are…
2022: NANCY WEBSTER – CLEan water activist
A Google search on “Nancy Webster Rockaway Beach” will quickly give you an idea of how
Nancy spends a lot of her time. Her story as a clean water activist starts in 2011, when she first
observed the clearcutting of the very steep forested hillsides within the 1400-acre Jetty Creek
watershed, the source of drinking water for Rockaway Beach. Nancy learned in conversation with two loggers that the type of logging being done, followed by spraying the clearcuts with pesticides, was not good for her drinking water. About the same time, she began receiving notices in her water bill that cancer-causing chemicals had exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency limits.
By 2012, Nancy decided to take action and with others formed a group that is now known as Coastal Communities for Watershed Protection. Today this grassroots group, from coastal communities north to Arch Cape and south to Netarts, has grown to over 700 members concerned about damage to their watersheds. They take their messages to whoever will listen, often with Nancy’s involvement, and often the spokesperson. Nancy has connected the dots for whoever will listen as to how timber clearcutting, slash burning, and pesticide spraying leads to water insecurity. She adds that the threat goes beyond drinking water quality to also include air quality, water quantity, forest habitat, and endangered fish.
City and county employees, elected officials, public meeting participants, Oregon Department of Forestry, the Department of Environmental Quality, and members of the Governors staff have all heard from Nancy over the years. So have foresters and managers of private timber companies. Is it any wonder that Nancy has been referred to as a “dynamo resident”?
Past recipients of the Ferdun Conservation Award:
2021: TOM BENDER – ARCHITECT, COMMUNITY VISIONARY, and LNCT FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
Anyone who knew Tom, knew him to be one of a kind. A visionary and trailblazer, he was passionate about energy-conserving design, saving forests, and sustainable economics of community, including affordable housing. Tom’s architectural prowess can be seen locally in the Manzanita Library, Saint Catherine’s Episcopal Church and the Columbia Bank, along with several homes.
Always the leader and working to have a positive impact on his community and the environment, Tom was a founding board member of Lower Nehalem Community Trust, Fire Mountain School, Fulcrum Community Resources, and NeahCasa. He was on the original planning committee for what we now know as North County Recreation District and served as Building Trustee for the Pine Grove Community House.
Alder Creek Farm is proof of his dedication to a healthy environment and love of community. He would be pleased with our project to improve energy efficiency at the Farm. The extension of the Oregon Coast Trail through the Headwaters property would have resonated with Tom’s desire to connect people to land. We simply cannot say enough about Tom’s influence at Lower Nehalem Community Trust and the greater area of the Nehalem region.
2019: Barbara Rippey and Barry MARSHALL –
Two of the community’s most cherished and dedicated volunteers, Barbara Rippey and Barry Marshall. The Bees or B&B, as they are known with great affection throughout the Nehalem Bay community, lead by example. Whether it’s working in the Hoffman Center gardens, planting trees for the Watershed Council or taking on any of a multitude of necessary tasks for the LNCT, they can be oucnted upon to show up. They perform their work with competence and intelligence, and bring a nuanced understanding of the consequences of the work to the people and place in which we live.
Well travelled and keen observers of how the world works, the Bees are skilled in disciplines as diverse as land surveying and organic food production and the necessary hands on work to get the job done. Its long been a mystery to most of the community as to from what deep well they get the energy to provide so much of themselves to this community, both to its institutions and to its individual members. To count yourself among their friends is an honor, and their circle of friends is large indeed.
The Trust is honored to acknowledge Barbara and Barry and their great contribution to defining community while inspiring others to do more to create a livable reality.
2018: PETER WALCZAK – BIOLOGIST, TEACHER
Lower Nehalem Community Trust is pleased to honor Peter Walczak’s contribution to our understanding the need and reward of conservation by awarding him The Ferdun Conservation Award for 2018. Thank you, Peter, for years of committed service to the Community:
For the past 30 years the youth of the Nehalem Bay Region have been blessed with Biologist Peter Walczak of Nehalem, who began his work as a fisheries and marine scientist during his three-and-a half year Peace Corps tour at the Iran Fisheries Research Institute and the Iran Department of the Environment. After finishing with the Peace Corps, he worked at the New York Science Lab, then for close to 10 years as a Fisheries Expert for United Nations in the Food and Agriculture Division.
Upon returning to the Northwest and settling in Nehalem, Peter discovered a real need for hands-on science education in the local school district. He went on to combine science literacy with fieldwork for kindergarten to 12th grade students in the Neahkahnie School District.
Never missing an opportunity to connect the dots of science to their day-to-day existence, Peter has the gift to open the eyes and hearts of children to the natural world in a way that helps them understand their role in it. Many local children who have gone on to work and pursue higher education in science credit Peter with inspiration for their choice. For children of all ages, a walk in the woods or along the shore is a magical experience.
2017: Gwendolyn Endicott – mythologist, storyteller & teacher
Gwendolyn Endicott is a fourth-generation Oregonian. She spent most of her childhood in the forests of Oregon and developed a deep connection with them. As she reached retirement age she discovered a beautiful forest property outside of Nehalem and acquired it to learn about it, experience it more deeply, and protect it forever.
As the late Kathleen Ryan wrote: “Gwendolyn has documented the various flora and fauna on the acreage and kept track of rainfall, weather patterns, and swollen streams. She has partnered with the Watershed Council to restore fish habitat. Gwendolyn is also a shaman who shares the knowledge of our many spiritual connections to the land and its seasonal rhythm. Her inspired publications tell the ancient stories of understanding our creation myths and how the earth nurtures us.”
2016: George Hemmingway – marine scientist and oceanographer
A tireless advocate for wetlands and ocean conservation, George Hemingway was past chair of the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council. George left a legacy that will long be remembered. He and his wife, Jean, moved to Nehalem after retiring in 2006. George assisted in ministry at the local bilingual congregation of St. Catherine’s. He enjoyed fishing, gardening, exploring the natural environment, and researching family history. He was passionate about learning, about protecting the coast’s amazing natural resources, elevating his community, and making friends with people of all backgrounds and experiences.
2015: Doug Firstbrook – a founder and past president of the LNCT Board
Champion of all species in our region, Doug helped found Lower Nehalem Community Trust and conserve Alder Creek Farm. He also organized the first Bay cleanup and was one of the founding members of the Land Trust and served as its chair. Beyond all that, he has spent countless hours in hands-on labor building bridges and fences, making trails, planting trees, making videos, and shoveling muck.
As Gwendolyn Endicott pointed out, “This is one fellow who is always out there working for the health and preservation of this watershed.”
2014 Neal Maine- naturalist and photographer
Neal Maine was the first recipient of the Ferdun Conservation Award. After a thirty-year career as a biology teacher at Seaside High School, he became the first executive director of North Coast Land Conservancy, which he co-founded in 1986. Since his retirement from the land trust in 2010, he has pursued his passion for nature photography dedicated to raising awareness of coastal ecology, wildlife, estuaries, freshwater wetlands and forests.