The Herbert W. Kale, II Award
Nomination statement for Dr. William B. Robertson Jr., recipient of the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society's 2000 Herbert W. Kale, II Award:
As members of the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society, we nominate Dr. William B. Robertson Jr. (Bill) for the Herbert W. Kale, II Award. Bill is recently retired from the Biological Resource Division of the U.S. Geological Survey after 46 years of federal employment, of which 43 years were with the Everglades National Park.
Bill came to the Everglades of Florida in 1951. Since that time, he has devoted his life to preserving and understanding that unique ecosystem. Bill started his professional career in the Everglades with his Ph.D. work on the relationship between breeding birds and South Florida vegetation. He witnessed and documented many of the negative ecosystem changes that the Everglades restoration is now poised to reverse. Bill's research on fire led to the development of fire as a management tool in Everglades National Park and the Park Service nation-wide. That research was the start of a National Park Service paradigm shift whereby fire was no longer viewed as something that should always be suppressed. Bill's cumulative knowledge has been repeatedly relied upon during the Everglades restoration process. He is justifiably considered “the Everglades expert” by many in south Florida.
Bill influenced wildlife issues in Florida through approximately 100 scientific papers. But equally effective, were his roughly 50 popular articles and numerous personal meetings with environmental policy makers and planners. In each of those meetings, Bill was an advocate for wildlife. His advocacy was also manifested through involvement with environmental activist groups like Florida Defenders of the Environment, National Audubon Society, and the Florida Audubon Society.
Bill is recognized for his conservation efforts both within and beyond Florida's boarders. Bill was the first president of the Florida Ornithological Society. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologist's Union, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Park Service, and he has been nominated for the Meritorious Service Award from the National Park Service. Bill was the plenary speaker at a recent Colonial Waterbird Society conference. He has been sought out as an international advisor on avian mortality issues, and he has served on numerous graduate student advisory committees.
It seems that almost every publication on South Florida's natural resources, subjects ranging from geology to birds, acknowledges the help of Bill Robertson. Bill published popular articles in “Audubon” and “National Wildlife” magazines. Bill also authored “The Parks Story,” which has been one of the best selling books at the Everglades National Park bookstore. Bill continues to make his mark on South Florida's natural resources even in retirement, and the ecosystem is the better for it. Although he has retired from the government payroll, Bill will never retire from working in the place he cares so much about. He is truly one of Florida's great wildlife professionals.