Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Alaska Ocean Leadership Award Recipients
February 8, 2018

Seward, Alaska (February 8, 2018) – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards. These awards are given annually to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the awareness and sustainability of the state’s marine resources. The Alaska SeaLife Center appreciates the support provided by the award sponsors and thanks the awards committee members: Jason Brune, Lisa Busch, Ian Dutton, Dale Hoffman, and Molly McCammon for their assistance in selecting the award recipients. These awards were presented at the Alaska Marine Gala on February 3, 2018 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska. The following are the 2018 Alaska Ocean Leadership Award winners:

Mead Treadwell received the prestigious Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award. The late Governor Walter J. Hickel and his wife Ermalee endowed this award for 10 years to recognize individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources for more than 20 years. Mead Treadwell has been one of the most influential Alaska ocean leaders of the past 30 years. From his early career experience responding to the Exxon Valdez oil spill on behalf of the City of Cordova and as Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, to his service on the boards of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute and the Prince William Sound Science Center, and to his more recent roles as Chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission, Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, and as a business leader catalyzing international fisheries partnerships, Mead has demonstrated remarkable vision and helped ensure a strong science and education base for ocean management in Alaska. He has also been a leader in Alaska’s efforts to build circumpolar cooperation through the Arctic Council and through his active involvement in numerous Arctic policy-focused organizations including the Institute of the North, the Aspen Institute, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Arctic Circle, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Action Council on the Arctic. He is always open to work with diverse stakeholders and has been a proactive supporter of innovation and pan-Arctic partnerships. Mead has been a tremendous advocate for our oceans and champion for Alaska’s ocean industries, ocean dependent communities and ocean research and education institutions.

Major Marine Tours received the Stewardship and Sustainability Award. This award is sponsored by Jason Brune, and honors an industry leader that demonstrates the highest commitment to sustainability of ocean resources. Major Marine Tours applies environmentally friendly practices, by using environmentally friendly cleaning solutions on their vessels and by outfitting their vessels with emission reducing and fuel saving engines. In 2016, owner Tom Tougas was awarded the Business Energy Efficiency Leader of the Year Award from the Seward Alternative Energy Group. A current member of the Board of Directors of the Alaska SeaLife Center, Tougas invites guests to donate to the ASLC at the time of booking to raise funds for their Wildlife Response Program. They also conduct other fundraisers, and have assisted the ASLC in the release of rehabilitated wildlife from their vessels. Major Marine Tours is an active participant in Whale SENSE, a voluntary education and recognition program, committed to responsible whale watching practices. Major Marine Tours also partners with the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to promote environmental education through their onboard Park Range narration and Junior Ranger Program, helping guests from all over the world learn about how to better care for our marine environment and coastlines.

Kyrstyn Kelly received the Hoffman-Greene Ocean Youth Award, which is sponsored by Dale Hoffman. The award honors an individual or team of Alaskan youth ages 12-19 who has displayed a dedication to promoting the understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s oceans. As a freshman at Colony High School, Kyrstyn joined the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) to learn about ways to advocate for Alaska’s environment. In 2015, she was an intern for the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies in Homer, where she gained experience working in the fields of environmental education and environmental science. At the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies, she helped with research, tours, and other aspects of protecting our oceans. Kyrstyn is a member of the board of the Alaska Center Education Fund. She is a passionate advocate for research and the health of our oceans and shows an eagerness to expand her understanding of marine and environmental issues. She has attended and presented at the Alaska Forum on the Environment for three years in a row. Last summer, Kyrstyn traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Alaska delegation and urge funding for vital programs for our oceans and coasts including the Village Safe Water program. She has participated in the state Science Olympiad program in events such as ecology, hydrogeology, and invasive species. Kyrstyn is the Colony High School Senior Class Secretary, has been a member of the Key Club since her freshman year, and is an avid skier.

Paula Cullenberg received the Marine Science Outreach Award. This award is given to a person, team or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to ocean literacy via formal or informal education, media or other communications. It is sponsored by the Alaska Ocean Observing System. Paula Cullenberg is the Director of Alaska Sea Grant, a University of Alaska Fairbanks-NOAA partnership with offices across coastal Alaska. Paula has brought over 35 years of service, vision, and skill to Alaska, its coastal communities, and the marine resources we all depend on. Paula first came to the state in the late 1970’s serving as an observer on a Russian trawler in the Bering Sea. She then traveled to villages in western Alaska as the first extension agent for the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. She continued her career working as an aide for interior legislator Kay Wallis, as a subsistence advocate for the Tanana Chiefs Conference and as a Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Bristol Bay. At the University of Alaska, Paula directed the Fishery Observer Training Center at UAA and joined Alaska Sea Grant in 2002 working as a coastal communities specialist and ultimately director of the program. Paula has provided well-respected leadership of Alaska Sea Grant, whose passionate and talented Marine Advisory faculty and staff help Alaskans understand and responsibly use our marine resources. Paula established the Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship program which links newly completed graduate students with state and federal agencies. In 2015, Paula worked to create the Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan for the State of Alaska. She has also initiated an innovative school grant program that has invested more than $100,000 in marine and watershed education programming in schools around the state. She and her family fish commercially in Bristol Bay and just completed their 30th salmon season last summer.

Dr. John “Craig” George was selected toreceive the Marine Research Award, sponsored by Drs. Clarence Pautzke and Maureen McCrea. This honor is given to a scientist, team of scientists, or an institution that is acknowledged by peers to have made an original breakthrough contribution to any field of scientific knowledge about Alaska’s oceans. A Senior Wildlife Biologist for the North Slope Borough, Craig George has lived in Utqiaġvik (formerly called Barrow) since the late 1970’s. His presence in the Arctic and among Iñupiat hunters and elders has given Craig a unique perspective that has been extremely helpful for wildlife conservation and for protecting subsistence hunting opportunities. Craig has helped establish a meaningful process where combining traditional knowledge and western science has improved our understanding and management of the Arctic environment. Craig’s studies, numerous publications, and technical reports have been especially helpful in managing the subsistence hunt of bowhead whales at local, national, and international levels. He has improved knowledge about many aspects of the biology of bowheads, including physiology, energetics, foraging, survival, and reproduction. Because of Craig’s commitment we know more about bowhead whales and how they use the ocean than just about any other marine mammal in the world. Craig’s most noteworthy contribution to biological science is providing evidence that bowhead whales live up to 200 years and are likely the longest-lived mammal. The son of a well-known children’s book author and a professor of Wildlife Management, Craig attributes his achievements by being persistent, working with a diverse group of people, being curious, and recognizing the value of local knowledge.

V Rae is this year’s recipient of the Ocean Ambassador Award. The Ocean Ambassador Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in promoting public awareness and appreciation of Alaska’s oceans, coasts, and marine ecosystems. V Rae’s images at the Alaska SeaLife Center are not only gorgeous and captivating, they light the way for our deeper respect and love for Alaska’s marine animals. Her work adorns many homes and offices in Alaska and beyond. V’s overall impact is to inspire and excite all of us in our understanding, knowledge, and stewardship of Alaska’s living marine resources. But she is also a direct, fantastic benefactor to the Alaska SeaLife Center, by her many donations of breathtaking artwork for our Gala auction. Each year a portion of V’s work is dedicated to wildlife preservation efforts that protect and sustain the natural tension between subsistence and conservation unique to Alaska and Hawaii, as well as non-profit humanitarian outreach.

About the ASLC

Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium, with wildlife response and education programs. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit


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