CERF William A. Niering Outstanding Educator Award? Are you sure you got the right guy?

It has taken me far too long to write about this, but I think in part that was my reluctance to engage in what felt like shameless self promotion. 

Well, fear not - I am filled with shame as I engage in this self promotion!

I was staggered and honored to be presented the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation’s William A. Niering Outstanding Educator Award at this Fall’s conference. I wanted to take the opportunity to say just how humbling this is, and how grateful I am for the honor. This one has particular meaning for me for several reasons.

First, while I never met Dr. Niering, I heard his name and reputation frequently, beginning  when I met Theresa (my wife) at San Diego State University in 1991. She had graduated from Connecticut College, and spoke often and warmly of Bill Niering. She praised his teaching, his knowledge, and his passion for his students and for nature. Despite never having the chance to meet him, he was (and is) nonetheless very much a presence in our house.  

Second, to receive this honor from Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, which is the go-to organization for coastal and estuarine ecologists, makes getting this distinction all the more surprising. I am stunned to see my name on the list of nine awardees since 2001 that includes Joy Zedler, John Day, Ivan Valiela, and Alejandro Yáñez-Arancibia. Getting to receive the award with my wife, daughter, and in-laws just made it that much better. 

And I was deeply moved by the kind words of those who wrote letters of recommendation - students, colleagues, and mentors who offered me praise I am not certain I earned, but that I will work hard to deserve. 

As I said at the award ceremony, I feel as though I have somehow pulled off some sort of scam…I get to work on projects I love, with people I love, and in places I love, and somehow I get awarded for that? It hardly seems fair!

Here is a picture of me with my wonderful grad student, Katie Blaha-Robinson, who was also honored with a well-deserved CERF Rising TIDES award at the conference!