Meditative Space
During an event in November 2020, volunteers and the Fort Hood AIM team worked together planting native shrubs, adding mulch and improving the landscape at a meditative space at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - The National Military Fish and Wildlife Association recognized Charlie Plimpton, Chelsea Plimpton and Brad Burden, biologists with the Adaptive and Integrative Management program here, as award winners for the Natural Resources Conservation Communication Promoting Public Awareness category at a virtual ceremony March 9.

“We had several very worthy nomination packages,” Zoe Duran, NMFWA director-at-large, said. “All of our award winners have done such incredible work.”

The National Military Fish and Wildlife Association communicates, informs and coordinates with professionals across the Department of Defense to protect natural resources while supporting the military mission through sustainable resource conservation.

“I am so honored to be a recipient of a NMFWA award,” Chelsea Plimpton said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be acknowledged by my colleagues as someone who is deserving of such an award.”

The category recognizes individuals and groups who promote public awareness of the military role in conserving the nation’s natural resource legacy.

A few programs the team has championed include the Fort Hood Pollinator Sanctuary, National Learn About Butterflies Day, environmental youth leadership events, education outreach center, Monarch Mission and annual Christmas Bird Count.

“I enjoyed the Park RX day event where Soldiers helped us create an outdoor meditative area in our pollinator sanctuary,” Charlie Plimpton, an avian biologist, said. “This relaxing area allows military members and civilians to connect with nature to support their mental wellbeing.”

A trail off of Rod and Gun Club Loop leads visitors to the area that includes benches surrounding a pecan tree along with signage highlighting steps for nature meditation.

“The project that has had the most impact on myself is the AIM Monarch Butterfly tagging program. It’s the first research project that I helped to design and implement,” Chelsea Plimpton said. “Not only have we been able to record valuable data, but we’ve also had several opportunities to engage with the public and discuss the importance of pollinator conservation.”

Since inception of the Fort Hood tagging program in 2017, more than 8,000 monarchs have been tagged and released.

On behalf of NMFWA, the command team of U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood - Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Ladd and Col. Jason Wesbrock - present biologists Charlie Plimpton, Chelsea Plimpton and Brad Burden an award for the Natural Resources Conservation Communication Promoting Public Awareness at Fort Hood, Texas, March 10. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

On March 10 at the Fort Hood Pollinator Sanctuary, Col. Jason Wesbrock, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, presented the award to the AIM team on behalf of NMFWA.

“I have seen it firsthand. The education programs and management of resources the team is focused on throughout the installation are going to sustain mission readiness and conservation for generations,” Wesbrock said. “The DPW team thinks the world of you guys and the Fort Hood leadership team is aware of what is going on here as well. We greatly appreciate your efforts.”

“It’s great to be recognized and know what we do makes a difference,” Burden said. “I hope we can inspire others to work outdoors and aid in conservation efforts. If we can spread our word through education, there’s no limit on the possibilities we can achieve.”

The team shared their plans to continue to grow their connection to the community and demonstrate how their research is helping to preserve the landscape, while also supporting military readiness at Fort Hood.

“Our future goals are to continue to educate about pollinator friendly habits,” Chelsea said, “promote the importance of native plants, and inspire others to develop a deeper connection with our natural world.”