Innovation, resourcefulness, leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use of America's coastal and ocean resources with the needs of the resources themselves - these are the hallmarks of the Walter B. Jones Memorial and NOAA Excellence Awards.
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 created a unique and voluntary partnership of federal and state governments to provide a balance between land and water uses and resource conservation along America's 95,000 miles of coastlines, including the Great Lakes. In 1990, as part of the reauthorization of the CZMA, the late Congressman Walter B. Jones provided NOAA with the authority to honor the people and organizations of America for their dedication and outstanding contributions in helping the nation maintain healthy coastal and ocean resources and balance the needs of these resources with human use.
At that time, Congressman Jones identified three award categories as particularly important—excellence in local government, excellence in marine and coastal graduate study, and coastal steward of the year. NOAA later added additional categories to recognize the broad spectrum of contributions made by this country's many motivated, caring individuals and organizations.
The awards program is open to individuals, organizations, and state and local government agencies and their employees. Individuals, organizations, and agencies cannot nominate themselves; they must be nominated by others. Candidates can receive an award in a category only once. Federal employees and officials are not eligible for the Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards, and are not eligible for the NOAA Excellence Awards, except for the category of Excellence in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
Coastal Steward of the Year - honors an individual who has exemplified strong, sustained leadership in finding a balance between the human use of the coast and ocean and the needs of that environment.
Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study - recognizes graduate students whose academic study promises to contribute materially to the development of new or improved approaches to coastal or ocean management. Up to ten awards may be given.
Excellence in Local Government- given to local governments that have inspired positive change in the field of coastal management by developing or implementing principles embodied by the CZMA. Up to five awards may be given.
Volunteer of the Year - recognizes an individual of any age who, outside of his or her work in an employment or student capacity, has donated substantial time to significantly improve the coastal or marine environment.
NGO of the Year - honors a nongovernment entity, such as a nonprofit organization, association, citizen's advisory council, friends group or foundation that has made significant contributions supporting coastal or marine resource programs.
Excellence in Promoting Diversity in Coastal or Ocean Resource Management - bestowed in honor of the late U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. The award is given to a representative of a university, state, local or tribal government, or a private citizen who has made an outstanding commitment to integrating cultural or ethnic diversity into coastal or ocean resource management programs.
Excellence in Business Leadership - recognizes a business organization that has made significant contributions, "above and beyond the call of duty," to improve or protect the coastal or ocean environment and that demonstrates the ability to balance business interests with environmental needs, as articulated in the CZMA.
The Susan Snow-Cotter Award for Excellence in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management- given to an individual who has initiated innovative practices and brought positive change to the management of ocean or coastal resources at either the state or national level.
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