2016 Andrea Lawrence Award presented to Dan & Leslie DawsonMay 21st, 2016 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
On May 13th community members, friends, and family of Andrea Mead Lawrence gathered at Mammoth Mountain’s Parallax Restaurant to commemorate Andrea’s life and those who embody her spirit of community and conservationism through the presentation of the Andrea Lawrence Award.
Andrea was a visionary environmental leader, two-time Olympic gold medalist, mother of five, 16-year Mono County Supervisor, and Mono Lake Committee board member. Since her passing in 2009, the Mono Lake Committee has hosted the Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner to celebrate her influential life and those who continue to improve and protect the Eastern Sierra through their passionate engagement with community and the land.
The 2016 award was presented to Dan & Leslie Dawson, who recently retired from the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, for their 37 years of tireless work improving upon and expanding both the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL) and Valentine Camp—together referred to as the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, which is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System.
Dan has been instrumental in improving the facility itself, and making it possible for researchers to conduct their studies in the Eastern Sierra. This research both improves our knowledge of Mono Lake and the surrounding area and also informs conservation efforts in the Eastern Sierra as a whole.
Leslie dedicated her time at the reserve to creating and running the educational programs. Before her arrival at the reserve there were no outdoor education programs offered to the public. Today there are many education opportunities available to both children and adults through Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve—including field trips that involve 2,000 students per year from six different school districts.
The Dawsons have made Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve the premier scientific and educational institution that it is today and in the process have brought the Eastern Sierra community together around science and nature. Their positive influence on the community was evident throughout the evening—keynote speaker John Melack of UC Santa Barbara spoke of the important work conducted at the reserve, and the role that Dan and Leslie played in providing a venue for that research. It was clear that the Dawsons had touched the lives of many through their educational work at the reserve—nearly every guest had attended either a lecture at SNARL or had kids who participated in a Valentine Camp field trip or summer camp. We can’t think of a better example of individuals who embody Andrea’s goals of supporting community and conservation in the Eastern Sierra.
Dan and Leslie join a list of Andrea Lawrence Award winners that has been steadily growing over the last nine years: 2015—Ted Shade, Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District; 2014—California Department of Fish & Wildlife; 2013—Karen Ferrell-Ingram, founding Board member and former Executive Director of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust; 2012—Bodie Foundation; 2011—Eastern Sierra Audubon; 2008—Mono Lake Committee; 2007—Friends of the Inyo.
The Committee is honored to help keep Andrea’s legacy alive by hosting this annual event, but it would not be possible without the generous support of the Lawrence family and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area—thank you. Thank you also to our guests, and award recipients like Dan & Leslie Dawson for their important work.