“Just Keep Going With This Work”

The National Wildlife Federation’s Susan Kaderka has just been awarded the 2019 Terry Hershey Texas Women in Conservation Award by Audubon Texas.

As the Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s South Central Regional Center in Austin, TX, Kaderka oversees the National Wildlife Federation’s conservation and education work in 12 states and two territories.

Susan Kakerka holding the Terry Hershey Texas Women in Conservation Award

Kaderka has long had a particular interest in protecting the region’s water resources—its rivers, streams, wetlands, and estuaries. Under her direction, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to reform Texas’s state water policies to better protect fish and wildlife, to restore the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, to address the wetlands loss crisis on the Louisiana coast, and to influence Congress to fully fund long-overdue restoration in the Everglades.

Furthermore, during Kaderka’s tenure, two National Wildlife Federation programs for schools—Eco-Schools and Certified Wildlife Habitats—have touched more than a million children in the 12-state region she manages.

As water policy expert and environmental attorney Mary Kelly notes, “Susan is the consummate behind-the-scenes player. She is the one who makes it all work. She communicates to philanthropy how important this is, she organizes the groups so they stay on the same page and she helps each person meet their goals.”

The award is named in honor of legendary Houston conservationist Terry Hershey A tireless advocate for conservation, Hershey fought to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from channelizing Buffalo Bayou, used her position on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to protect vulnerable habitats, and launched several conservation groups that are still active today.

Kaderka’s remarks at a luncheon benefiting Audubon Texas conservation leadership program touched on her relationship with Hershey, who was a benefactor to the region’s efforts to protect Texas’s rivers and bays.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Terry since hearing about this honor. I remember getting a grant award letter from Terry and her foundation one year. Above her signature, there was a little note from Terry. It said something like, “Just keep going with this work” and I could almost hear her voice. It was a little bit impatient, a little bit brusque—but it was also extremely encouraging. Conservation work in these times is challenging and I just wanted to take this opportunity to invoke Terry and her spirit and to encourage of all us to just keep going with this work.”

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