On July 25 at the Delaware State Fair, Gov. Jack Markell, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III Administrator Shawn M. Garvin honored Terry Higgins of Marydel with the 2013 Delaware Wetland Warrior Award for his lifelong efforts to conserve, restore and educate Delaware residents on the need for and importance of wetlands.
“Wetlands contribute to the quality of life in Delaware by providing storage for floodwaters and protecting us from coastal storms, providing habitat for wildlife species, and purifying water by removing pollutants and nutrients from runoff. Efforts to protect, restore and better understand processes affecting wetlands are critical to enable the continuation of the economically valuable services provided by wetlands,” said O’Mara. “We are proud to recognize Terry Higgins for his important contributions to protecting and understanding this vital natural resource.”
The Wetland Warrior Award, now in its sixth year, is presented annually to a citizen, organization or business that has demonstrated exemplary efforts to benefit Delaware wetlands in the areas of outreach and education, monitoring and assessment, or restoration and protection.
Higgins is a professor emeritus from Wesley College in Dover, where he served in the science department for 40 years, mentoring and educating more than 8,000 students. While at Wesley, he also became involved in the school’s environmental advocacy club, Team Cannon, monitoring the wetlands at Camden’s Brecknock Park.
After his retirement from Wesley in 2000, Higgins continued his commitment to wetlands as the Kent County volunteer coordinator for Delaware’s Adopt-A-Wetland Program. Through his initiative and mentoring, numerous volunteer groups have become informed and engaged wetland caretakers.
Not only did Higgins encourage others to restore and protect wetlands, he and his family also recently preserved a 10-acre forested wetland site in the Choptank River Watershed. During the annual DNREC Awards ceremony, Higgins also received DNREC’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for Conservation and Restoration for his work in environmental education and wetlands conservation in Delaware.
Higgins’ widely known passion for conserving and protecting wetlands and for urging others along the same path continues unabated. “Wetlands have an amazing ability to restore and right themselves if we just stop impacting them. They are pretty amazing, and we need to do whatever we have to do to let them do what they were created to do,” he said.
Next year’s call for nominations will be posted in the spring at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/DelawareWetlands.
For details about past Delaware Wetland Warriors, go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/DelawareWetlands/Pages/WetlandWarriors.aspx.