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RALEIGH, N.C. (July 16) — On July 11, Dr. James F. Parnell was awarded one of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s most prestigious honors – the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award. It’s a fitting tribute for a noted biologist who studied under the award’s namesake at North Carolina State University while earning his doctoral degree.

“Over his many years as a conservationist in North Carolina, Dr. Parnell has made critical contributions to perpetuating important wildlife resources and habitats, especially along our coast,” said Dr. David Cobb, chief of the Division of Wildlife Management. “In an age where development and other issues are putting pressures on our environment, Dr. Parnell is a shining example of being professionally successful, but more importantly, significant.”

In the resolution, introduced by Executive Director Richard Hamilton and unanimously seconded by the NCWRC commissioners, Parnell was recognized for pioneering “research on colonial nesting waterbirds and shorebirds on dredge-material islands.” The document went on to state that his work “contributed greatly to the conservation of those fauna in North Carolina and led to the development of the North Carolina network of waterbird conservation lands, known as the Dr. James F. Parnell Colonial Waterbird Sanctuary System.”

The coauthor of numerous books, Parnell mentored hundreds of students and future conservation leaders during his time in Wilmington. He also served as a charter member of the North Carolina Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee, offering instrumental guidance as its first chair.

Thomas L. Quay served as a professor in N.C. State’s Department of Zoology for 32 years, from 1948 until 1980. Much of Quay’s work focused on how birds relate to their environment. While at State, his subjects ranged from songbirds to ringnecked pheasants and colonial waterbirds. After retirement, the self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist” served on a variety of conservation boards while also lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes.

The Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award was created in honor of the man whose passion for wildlife, ornithology, and teaching was exemplary. Parnell is the second recipient, after Quay himself was honored last year.
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