October 29, 2020
Felicia Sanders, who serves as the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Bird Conservation Project supervisor, has been named the Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
"We are so fortunate to have Felicia as our Shorebird Project leader at SCDNR," said Emily Cope, SCDNR’s director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. "She truly understands the importance of developing partnerships and building support for conservation. Her hard work, passion, and gentle nature are extremely evident in her everyday activities and set her apart as a true leader in her field."
Sanders, stationed at Santee Coastal Reserve in McClellanville, received the 2020 Biologist of the Year Award Oct. 27 during the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ virtual annual conference from Springfield, Missouri.
She has spent 30 years on conservation efforts for a wide diversity of bird species and began her career at SCDNR in 2001. Sanders has worked extensively with sea, shore, and wading birds as well as red-cockaded woodpeckers, grassland birds and neotropical migrants. Since 2007, she has been a tireless champion for the conservation of South Carolina’s coastal birds.
Sanders has led South Carolina’s coastal bird management and built a program recognized internationally. She has established partnerships with private, government and non-governmental partners and galvanized grassroots support to protect coastal bird habitat at about 30 sites. This has often included navigating conflict between multiple stakeholders to achieve these protections. Sanders is a dedicated biologist and her research activities have resulted in coauthoring 29 scientific publications and has highlighted the importance of South Carolina during red knot migration. She has mentored numerous wildlife professionals and served on 10 graduate committees.
Her many conservation accomplishments include designation of five coastal island Seabird Sanctuaries allowing beach closures to increase nesting success, and the designation of the Cape Romain-Santee Delta Region as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site of International Importance. Also, Sanders is an invited participant in the Artic Shorebird Demographics Network, an internationally coordinated effort with 17 partners working across Alaska, the Canadian Arctic and Russia. She is a founding member of the American Oystercatcher Working Group, a model for shorebird conservation, and coordinated the first statewide winter shorebird and Wilson’s plover breeding surveys in South Carolina.
The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information, visit www.seafwa.org.