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Announcing The 2016 Lowell Thomas Awardees

We are proud to announce our 2016 Lowell Thomas Awardees: Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, Rick Ridgeway, Laly Lichtenfeld, and Martin von Hildebrand. Tickets for the event will go on sale shortly, check back on here our website and our Facebook page for updates! Be sure to book your lodging soon, spots are going fast. You can click here for more information on lodging options in Santa Barbara.


Kristine McDivitt Tompkins

Kristine Tompkins has a sense of urgency. It’s a feeling that comes from being on the brink of permanently enshrining conservation safeguards for vast landscapes in Chile and Argentina that she and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, spent 30 years putting in place, and completing what is often called one of the greatest conservation efforts of the 21st century. Starting in the 1990s, Doug and Kristine began a remarkable and audacious process of acquiring and protecting over 2 million acres of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, with the ultimate goal of donating these lands to the national governments with protective conservation overlays and public access. To facilitate that goal, Kristine founded Conservacion Patagonica, which works to create national parks in Patagonia. Her efforts are currently focused on Pumalín Park, an 800,000-acre nature reserve near Chile’s Lakes Region, and an area of northeastern Argentina comprising one of the planet’s great freshwater wetlands complexes. Before committing her life to land conservation, Kristine spent two decades helping build Patagonia, Inc. into not only a leading provider of high quality outdoor equipment, but also one of the most conscientious businesses around today.

Rick Ridgeway

Rick Ridgeway is one of the world’s most accomplished mountaineers. His impressive climbing résumé features many first ascents including being amongst the first Americans to summit K2, and to complete all “Seven Summits” of the highest peaks on each continent. It is thus no surprise that Rolling Stone magazine once dubbed Rick “The real Indiana Jones.”  But Rick’s passion extends far beyond mountaintops and “first tracks”. It was during those long forays into the most remote and wild regions on earth that Rick developed a finely tuned awareness of the risks posed by human encroachment on these untrammeled landscapes. Rick then sowed the seeds for Freedom to Roam, an initiative aimed at reversing ecosystem fragmentation and preserving safe passage for millions of birds, animals, fish and insects as they migrate across our continents, following food sources, and returning to birth and rear their young. These migrations depend on wildlife corridors - regions that allow unobstructed and undisturbed movement and dispersal of wildlife - which are now increasingly safeguarded as a result of Rick’s initiative. When he is not out roaming or tracking wolverines, Rick serves as Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Patagonia, Inc. 

Laly Lichtenfeld

Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld believes wild animals and humans can coexist in harmony. With 20 years of on-the-ground experience in East African wildlife conservation, Laly specializes in human-wildlife conflict prevention focusing on lions and other big cats. Encompassing nearly 10 million acres of Acacia woodlands, bushland and open grassland, Northern Tanzania supports one of the highest large mammal diversities in the world, where wildlife still moves freely, unhindered by fences. However, this landscape also represents one of the most challenging environments for ecosystem and open space preservation because most of it is on community lands. Saving this threatened landscape depends on the commitment of rural people who govern these lands, which is where Laly comes in! Together with her team of 50 Tanzanian citizens, Laly developed an extremely ambitious, multi-faceted approach to rangeland conservation in this vast landscape through her organization, The African People & Wildlife Fund. They have enjoyed remarkable success. Laly is a Distinguished Alumni of the Yale Tropical Resources Institute, a National Geographic Explorer and six-time National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee as well as an invited member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Martin von Hildebrand

Dr. Martin von Hildebrand has devoted his life to giving back—literally. Thanks to his efforts, the indigenous people of the Columbian Amazon basin, who in the ‘70s were still being exploited in rubber camps, now control their own destiny and that of their 64 million acre homeland forests. The unstoppable von Hildebrand is now spearheading a new and even more ambitious endeavor: establishment of the world’s largest ecological corridor, stretching from Colombia across Venezuela and Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean. Partnering with indigenous communities, national governments and others in the northern Amazon region, the project, dubbed “Path of the Anacondas,” aims to safeguard 333 million acres of forests, and maintain connectivity between the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic ecosystems. Martin and his organization, Fundación Gaia Amazonas, is front and center for this extraordinary effort. Born in the United States to European parents, his family moved to Columbia when he was quite young to help establish the University de los Andes. Martin grew up with a keen awareness of the rights of Amazonian peoples and their dependence on native lands. He is determined to safeguard those rights and traditions, as well as the ecosystems upon which they depend.

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Published by : Explorers Club Staff

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