Seeking to recognize a leading Vermont environmentalist and honor the legacy of a legendary wildlife advocate, Green Mountain Power has called for nominations for the 2017 GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award.
Presented annually and named for famed osprey advocate Meeri Zetterstrom of Milton, the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award is given to one person, business, group or non-profit who has made a significant contribution to Vermont’s environment. The award is accompanied by a $2,500 donation to the winner’s environmental cause.
“Meeri’s legacy continues to be visible in the dozens of ospreys that now make Vermont home, and the Vermonters who emulate her passion and perseverance,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. “We have been thrilled with the quality of applicants over the years, and hope for some inspiring nominees for the 2017 award.”
Zetterstrom, a passionate wildlife advocate unafraid of making waves, began what became a statewide initiative to restore endangered ospreys in Vermont in the late 1980s. Despite people annoying the birds accidentally and intentionally, and repeated nest failures, Zetterstrom was a passionate advocate who remained focused on her goal.
Zetterstrom lived in a small cabin with a bird’s-eye view of Lake Arrowhead in Milton, and was among the first to notice when a couple of ospreys returned to fish the lake’s waters after their near extinction in Vermont in the 1940s.
Her vision, collaboration and leadership prompted utilities, the state and private landowners to work together, and ultimately led to the resurgence of ospreys over the next 20 years.
The birds were removed from the endangered species list in 2005, and plans for the Zetterstrom Award were announced shortly before Zetterstrom died in 2010.
GMP Vice President Steve Costello worked closely with Zetterstrom, and came to view her as a grandmotherly figure — with attitude.
“Meeri was warm and charming but she was also direct and forceful when she wanted to get a specific thing done in her quest,” Costello said. “She had a singular focus on bringing ospreys back, and it permeated virtually every aspect of her life. She was also one of the most caring, gentle and thoughtful people I’ve ever met.”
Past Zetterstrom Award recipients include Sally Laughlin, a leading wildlife advocate and scientist whose work was instrumental in restoring three species of endangered birds in Vermont; Michael Smith, the founder of Rutland’s Pine Hill Park; Margaret Fowle, who led Vermont’s peregrine falcon restoration program; the Lake Champlain Committee, which works to protect and improve Lake Champlain; Kelly Stettner, who founded the Black River Action Team in southern Vermont; Roy Pilcher, founder of the Rutland County Chapter of Audubon; and Lake Champlain International, a nonprofit working to protect, restore and revitalize Lake Champlain and its communities.
Nominations for the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award will be accepted through May 31, and the winner will be announced this summer. The winner will be chosen by a panel of GMP employees with responsibilities related to land management, resource protection, community relations and education, and environmental compliance.
Nominations may be made by the nominee or by any other entity and should demonstrate a commitment of the nominee to benefit Vermont, its land, air or water, wildlife or the enjoyment of the outdoors by others. This may be through educational efforts, environmental stewardship, resource rehabilitation, protection, preservation or conservation.
Photo courtesy of Steve Costello
A female osprey with a 2-foot northern pike it had just caught at Lake Arrowhead.