Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tom Kerr Selected As New Board Chair Of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

The board of Berks County-based 
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association has selected former Wildlands Conservancy leader and conservation award-winner Tom Kerr to serve as chair of the board of directors at this world-famous raptor conservation organization.

Kerr served 20 years as the president and CEO of Wildlands, one of the largest and most successful land trusts in Pennsylvania. 

Under his leadership, Wildlands protected 45,000 acres of greenspace and established new outdoor recreation/education programs including its unique Bike & Boat program, the popular Lehigh River Sojourn, and the Lehigh River Water Trail. 

Known for his expertise in balancing natural-resource conservation with outdoor recreation, Kerr helped to design and complete several public parks, including the Bob Rodale Cycling & Fitness Park in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, among others. 

He also championed a campaign to raise $67 million for open-space conservation in Lehigh and Northampton counties and was among the founders of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, now WeConservePA.

Living in Kempton, Berks County for nearly 50 years, Tom is an active outdoorsman who enjoys canoeing, bicycling, and boat racing, and he is no stranger to the Sanctuary. 

He served previously as director of administration and has remained connected as a board member for more than two decades, including positions as interim president, vice chair, and chair of the board’s Land Conservation Committee, among others.

His service includes former volunteer positions on the PA DCNR Citizens Advisory Council, including as second vice-chair. 

His long-standing membership in the Kempton Lions Club involved helping to design and find funding for an ADA-compliant kayak “launcher” at Leaser Lake. 

More recently, he worked to establish and serve on the Albany Township Environmental Advisory Council. 

Accolades include receiving the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Hero Award, a Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award from WeConservePA, and most recently, the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award from the Northeast Environmental Partners organization, which includes DCNR, DEP, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble, and Wilkes-Barre University.

“I’ve been involved with Hawk Mountain in one way or another for almost five decades. I believe I’ve got more from it than it has from me, but I’ve never spent an unhappy moment in this special place,” Kerr explains. “To be chairing a board of dedicated, enthused leaders and working with an equally dedicated and enthused staff is an honor of a lifetime.”

Outgoing chair Jeff Weil is pleased his vice chair has assumed the leadership role. 

“Tom has all of the qualities that a great organization wants in its leaders: dedication to the mission, good judgment, and an appreciation and respect for the talents of others. Under the combined leadership of Tom and our President Sean Grace, Hawk Mountain will continue to shine as the world’s leader in raptor conservation and education,” Weil says.

Hawk Mountain has trained more than 475 young conservationists from 75 countries on six continents through its Conservation Science Traineeship Program, and its education programs annually reach thousands of people, both on-site and online. 

Operated as a nature-tourism destination, the Sanctuary welcomes an average 70,000 visitors per year. 

This year the Sanctuary will complete a visioning process to plan upgrades to its Visitor Center headquarters, along with continuing to expand its far-reaching science, education, and forest stewardship programs.

Founded in 1934, Hawk Mountain is famous as the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and today is a leader in raptor conservation science and education. 

The mission of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association is to conserve birds of prey worldwide by providing leadership in raptor conservation science and education, and by maintaining Hawk Mountain Sanctuary as a model observation, research, and education facility. 

To learn more, visit the Hawk Mountain website or to invest in its mission as a member or volunteer, call 610-756-6961.

[Posted: December 21, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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