Evergreen: Oregon Wild’s 50th Anniversary Gala Events

People mingling at Oregon Wild's 50th Anniversary Gala in Portland Oregon

On May 10 and 11, two unseasonably warm spring days, more than 200 Oregon Wild supporters – from founding board members to business partners – celebrated our 50th Anniversary at gala events in Portland and Eugene. “Forest formal” attire; beer, wine, and cider from partner businesses; and a showcase of memorabilia and stories chronicling our history were on display. We also screened a brand new video celebrating our 50-year history and highlighting our resolve to keep fighting for wild nature into the future. 

Being an advocate for wildlands and wildlife in Oregon is not easy. And often, after a big win – designating a new Wilderness area or securing endangered species protections for at-risk wildlife – we just move on to the next fight rather than relishing our accomplishments and celebrating the people that made them happen. For a 20-year period starting in the late ‘70s, the Oregon Wilderness Conference provided a perfect venue to do just that. And during that time we handed out awards to dozens of individuals and organizations in recognition of their sacrifices for and dedication to the wild. 

On this occasion of our 50th anniversary, we wanted to return to that tradition and celebrate some of the conservation heroes among us, so in addition to celebrating our collective love of wild places and wildlife, the events’ program also recognized the dedication and accomplishments of some of the conservation heroes in our midst. Candice Guth, finance director at Oregon Wild for 17 years, received the Holly Jones Award for Organizational Development. Doug Heiken, a 30-year veteran on staff, received the Carol Alderson Award for Perseverance. Regna Merritt was awarded the William O. Douglas Award for Courage for her 20 years of work, including 10 at the helm, for Oregon Wild. Andy Kerr, legendary conservationist and director at Oregon Wild in the 1980s and ‘90s, received the David Simons Award for Vision. 

In addition, Ann Vileisis, a champion for the wild rivers and natural areas of the southern Oregon coast, was awarded the Tim Lillebo Wildlands Warrior Award.

Photos from both evenings can be found in this album. (Thanks to Curtis Smith and Chloe LaMonica for lending their photography skills to the cause!)

These grand events would not have been possible without generous sponsorships and beverage donations from Mahonia Reality (Seth Prickett), the Elizabeth G. Maughan Foundation, Killian Pacific, Wyld, B+B Print Source, Mountain Rose Herbs, Worthy Brewing, Fullerton Wines, Ninkasi Brewing, Avid Cider Co., Breakside Brewery, and Schilling Hard Cider. And a special thanks to Expedition Old Growth for donating two tree-climbing adventures to the evening’s raffle!

From all of us here at Oregon Wild, thanks to everyone involved in helping out, attending, and supporting these celebrations of our past, present, and future. Look for more opportunities to celebrate in communities around the state later this summer and fall!

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