Desert Botanical Garden has been a leader in the conservation of desert plants and habitats since its inception in 1939. The Garden’s early conservation efforts were focused in Phoenix and the low desert areas of Arizona. In its middle years, the Garden expanded its reach to include the entirety of the Sonoran Desert, in both the United States and Mexico. More recently, the Garden was selected by IUCN as the global nexus for conservation of cactus, agaves and all the world’s succulent species.
The Desert Botanical Garden Conservation Award was created by the Garden’s Board of Trustees in 2017 as a way to highlight the plight of desert plants and other succulent species, and to recognize the conservation heroes—be they individuals or organizations—who are valiantly working to stop the precipitous loss of desert plants and habitats in Arizona and around the world.
The Desert Botanical Garden Conservation Award honors exceptional individuals and organizations which have innovated and championed the unique environment of the Sonoran Desert and the conservation of biodiversity in Arizona. Selected with the help of the Arizona community and the Garden’s partner organizations in the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, all of the winners of this prestigious award represent visionaries who are recognized for their positive impact on nature and the well-being of all who call Arizona home.
Nominations Open Monday, May 24th, 2021
past award winners
Mayor Jackie Meck
The first Desert Botanical Garden Conservation Award was bestowed on Mayor Jackie Meck in 2017 for his visionary leadership in Buckeye, which emphasized the protection of the city’s open spaces for residents, and included his involvement in the formation and management of the White Tank Mountains Conservancy.
In 2018, the Garden honored Tamara Woodbury for her pivotal leadership as the CEO of the Girl Scouts- Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. Her work has led to the connection of countless young women to nature and it was under her guidance that the Bob & Renee Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain was open to serve the Arizona community in 2017.
Maxine Lakin was honored in 2019 for more than 50 years of contributions to the conservation of the Sonoran Desert. With the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Countil (PMPC), she helped pass the Phoenix Parks and Preserves Initiatives to protect Sonoran Desert lands, now the Sonoran Preserve. She also helped pass Chapter 26 of the City of Phoenix Charter and is the founder of Save Our Mountains Foundation. In 2019, still an active member of PMPC, Lakin worked with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Director and team to bring what was Camelback Mountain Park in to the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.
Patrick J. Graham
The 2020 award winner was Patrick J. Graham, the former State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Arizona who was a champion for landscape conservation throughout Arizona for over 19 years. He has built a lasting legacy through innovative ideas and approaches and built partnerships with organizations, government, and both urban and rural communities for the benefit of our unique state. Graham is not only responsible for leading these innovative projects on the ground, he has also worked to move the needle forward for conservation at the policy level both in the state and in Washington, D.C.