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Oceanic Society President Wins Prestigious Award for Volunteerism

By Morrison Mast

Oceanic Society president and CEO Roderic Mast was awarded the prestigious Ed Drane Award for Volunteerism last week at the 39th International Sea Turtle Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. The award was established in memory of Ed Drane (1949-2009), an International Sea Turtle Society volunteer for more than 20 years, and is awarded to nominees who share his volunteer spirit and commitment to sea turtles.

Since 2003, Rod has been co-chair of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (MTSG), a global volunteer network of experts that is considered the global authority on sea turtles and helps to define global priorities for conservation. The MTSG is a group of approximately 300 sea turtle conservationists from 100 countries and is responsible for determining the Red List status of the world’s seven species of sea turtles.

Rod served as the ISTS president in 2004 when he convened the 24th International Sea Turtle Symposium in San Jose, Costa Rica, an event that was hosted in partnership with Costa Rican President, Abel Pacheco, and the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment (MINAET). Rod also served as a member of the ISTS board of directors from 2003-2005.

In addition, Rod served as the auctioneer at the Symposium’s annual live auction fundraiser from 1989 until 2017. The auction has become an annual tradition of celebration and community-building, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the ISTS' student travel grants. Rod’s nearly uninterrupted 27-year tenure as auctioneer was highlighted by Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols, author of "Blue Mind" and fellow sea turtle conservationist, who presented the award. In his speech, Nichols pointed out that many members of the sea turtle conservation community have benefited from Rod’s ability to harness the community’s passion and generosity towards fellow sea turtle conservationists who lack the funding to attend the symposium.

Ed Drane’s passion for sea turtles and his commitment to the ISTS and its international mission were both energizing and inspiring, and Oceanic Society’s staff is proud to see Rod recognized in Ed’s name.

Author

Morrison Mast is an Oceanic Society naturalist and special projects manager, and has devoted his career to wildlife conservation and education. Morrison holds a dual B.S. in Biology and Environmental Policy from the College of William and Mary and is a U.S. Student Fulbright Scholar.