2023 Annual Report
Conservation At The Speed Of LightHawk
From the CEO
Dear Partners, Volunteer Pilots and Donors,
As I sit down to reflect on the events of the past year, I am reminded of the dramatic shifts taking place in our world. Yesterday, I personally witnessed the aftermath of four tornadoes that struck near my home in Boston. The news is filled with reports of scorching temperatures and smoke engulfing our nation. Even the waters surrounding Florida have reached alarming temperatures, exceeding 100 degrees. And as I put these words to paper, Hurricane Hilary is ready to unleash incredible amounts of rain upon some of the driest regions of our country.
These occurrences are nothing short of unprecedented. They serve as reminders that our planet is undergoing a transformation, a transformation that is increasingly difficult to ignore or dismiss. Fortunately, LightHawk is here to tell the story and bring hope from above by driving positive change for both people and the planet.
LightHawk’s impact this year has been profound. Collaborations with photographers, videographers, and media professionals have documented, educated, and heightened public awareness about the impact of climate change and environmental decline. Another pivotal aspect of our work involved hosting policy makers, decision influencers, and representatives from impacted communities, providing them with comprehensive insights into the challenges they confront. Each of these experiences often bring about transformative shifts in understanding and action, solidifying LightHawk’s commitment to effecting meaningful change.
Our dedicated corps of Volunteer Pilots facilitated the transport of hundreds of endangered species, including Mexican and red wolves, black-footed ferrets, masked bobwhite quail, and California condors. One condor named Traveler was flown by pilot, Mark Dedon, to the LA Zoo for emergency surgery. Thankfully, the bird survived and was able to fly once again with the 300 condors that remain in the wild. We also learned that a Mexican wolf pup transported by LightHawk is now an adult and thriving in a pack of its own, underscoring the remarkable impact of our missions.
In the face of both challenges and successes, I draw immense inspiration from the dedicated individuals who make up the LightHawk staff and Volunteer Pilots. Each day, they rise with a shared sense of purpose, fully aware that their efforts are contributing to the conservation of our environment and the mitigation of the far-reaching effects of climate change. Their commitment is unwavering and their impact is immeasurable.
None of this would be possible without the incredible support of the conservation partners, foundations, and donors who also stand behind LightHawk. Our mission grows more critical each year and it is your generosity that drives our progress and fuels our future.
To all those who contribute in so many ways, I extend my heartfelt gratitude.
LightHawk By The Numbers
No. of Flights
Donated Flight Hours
Romeo November: A LightHawk Story
The Colorado River is in crisis. A decades-long drought has driven levels to record lows. Building resilience into this vital water system is a high priority for LightHawk and its partners. The aerial perspective is a valuable tool for conservation scientists.
Through the eyes of LightHawk volunteer pilot, Chuck Schroll, the film begins its journey near Fort Collins, Colorado, where Hally Strevey of the Coalition for the Upper Poudre Watershed explains how her organization and others are confronting the challenge of healing a forest ecosystem from massive wildfire. Then it heads to Price, Utah, where Jordan Nielsen of Trout Unlimited and landowner Leo Hardy show how they are working on the ground to heal a degraded stream using beaver dam analogues and other nature-based solutions. Lastly the film visit with Cochise County’s Mark Apel, who guides viewers across the San Pedro River watershed, illustrating strategies to recharge the regional aquifer to support healthy river flows and incredible biodiversity in this desert landscape.
Produced in partnership with American Rivers and Trout Unlimited, LightHawk released “Romeo November: A LightHawk Story” in February through our website, email and social media channels. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the film yet, check out LightHawk.org or follow the QR code on this page.
The Colorado River has been facing a years-long drought. As the primary source of water for communities throughout the West, its continued drop in volume has potentially massive impacts for cities, agriculture and recreation.
Photographer Alex Heilner has been documenting water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead for several years through LightHawk Flights. Heilner says, “Global warming is changing lands we take for granted right before our eyes, and the better we understand these shifts and our role in them, the better equipped we will be to reckon with them. The public – especially those not already closely aware of the Colorado’s plight – need to see the issues in a very literal way.”
Photos from this flight and others are aimed at a broad, mainstream audience through both publication and exhibition. Many of the images Heilner collects on LightHawk flights are made available to the Water Desk at CU Boulder, which serves as a resource for journalists writing environmental stories across the country.
Visually documenting the current state of the Colorado River is a project Heilner hopes will encourage smart decisions about water use in the future and to create a record of how this natural resource is being managed and mismanaged in our lifetime.
In late September of 2022, Hurricane Ian roared into the coast of Florida. A category 4 hurricane, it was the fifth strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S. It caused widespread damage and loss of life.
LightHawk partner The Everglades Foundation reached out shortly after the storm to plan a reconnaissance flight over the coastal Everglades, Florida Bay and the southwest coastline to assess water quality and document impacts from Ian’s landfall.
Volunteer Pilot Robert Decker responded to the call and took Steve Davis, Chief Science Officer with the Everglades Foundation, along with Alex Harris, reporter for the Miami Herald climate team, on the aerial tour.
During a conversation after the flight, Davis noted that the only way to make these observations and gather this kind of information is in the air. He was also able to observe the benefits of completed/ongoing restoration projects implemented in the Everglades. Due to the scale of projects and the size of the area covered, the aerial perspective is the only way to get a clear picture of the situation.
Oceans & Coastlines
Harmful Algal Blooms
LightHawk partner San Francisco Baykeeper has flown multiple missions over the past few years to monitor and document harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the San Francisco Bay Area. HABs impair waterways, making them uninhabitable for fish and dangerous for humans. According to the CDC, Algal and cyanobacterial blooms can grow in fresh water, salt water, and brackish water (a mixture of fresh and salt water) around the world, including in water people use for drinking or recreation. Harmful blooms tend to form in warm water with high levels of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
HABs are bad for water systems for a number of reasons. If a bloom becomes so dense that sunlight cannot go through, it can block other plants and animals in the water from getting the sunlight they need to survive. Dense blooms can also clog the gills of fish, shellfish, and other animals, preventing them from breathing.
Two new field investigators joined the Baykeeper team and as part of their onboarding to the organization, they flew with LightHawk volunteer pilot Peter Geiler. Their flight served to familiarize them with the ins and outs of LightHawk flights with the goal of expanding the partnership between San Francisco Baykeeper and LightHawk for advocacy, community outreach and education, science and legal investigations around harmful algal blooms.
Additionally, the flight took advantage of time in the air to conduct a seasonal overview of the San Juaquin Delta to evaluate and document remote water quality conditions as part of their ongoing HAB monitoring program.
Sea Level Rise
A series of LightHawk flights enabled Surfrider Foundation to document the king tides along the West Coast. These images and firsthand experiences will support ongoing research and planning for sea level rise and climate change impacts. Documentation will help advance our understanding of sea level rise impacts, identify coastal areas that are likely to be first impacted, and help plan for adaptation strategies.
Surfrider Foundation and coastal planners will use this information to help better plan within coastal communities for sea level rise and in particular identify critical public infrastructure (roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, etc.) that may be in harm’s way and require long term planning. Information will be shared with media and resource agencies, and pushed out through Surfrider’s local and national media channels to help raise public awareness.
Colorado River and Western Drought
In late October, LightHawk volunteer pilot Will Worthington flew a photographer from the Denver Post along sections of the Colorado River. The flight’s purpose was to collect imagery for a photojournalism project to demonstrate the scale of the challenges along the river via photos.
Communities throughout the west depend on the Colorado River for a number of uses, from agricultural, to drinking water, to industrial uses. Demand has put increasing strain on the river system as drought has reduced the water supply below the demand. Media has documented the falling water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell and the growing need to implement measures that would decrease demand and preserve vital water resources.
Photos from this flight have been used in online stories for the Denver Post and will also be used to build out a website next year that will take viewers on the journey of the water from the Colorado River headwaters to the Sea of Cortez.
Denver Post photographer RJ Sangosti had previously conducted an on-the-ground tour of sections of the river but realized he was not able to capture the scale of the drought and overuse. He needed the aerial perspective LightHawk provides to illustrate the drought and disparity along the river.
Partners Are Saying…
“Seeing the Mississippi from the air helped all of us appreciate more fully how special and important the river is but also to see clearly how much our current management approaches have altered the river and the unintended consequences of those management decisions.”
– Dean Klinkenberg, Mississippi Historian and Writer
Mississippi River Drought
LightHawk partnered with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) to fly key legislators on an aerial tour as part of the Mississippi River Network’s River Days of Action.
The tour over the floodplain educated officials about flooding, water quality issues and nature-based solutions such as wetlands and floodplain forests. As major flooding events are projected to become more prominent, the livelihood of countless communities, ecosystem health, and overall water quality are severely jeopardized. Each of these flooding events damages property, endangers human life, and washes a host of nutrients and chemicals into the river. These effects are basin-wide and accumulate throughout the river’s path resulting in a dangerous mix of pollutants impacting the river and Gulf of Mexico. By doing an event like a conservation flight with an expert guide, this can build the interest and understanding of legislators in working on legislation aimed at improving watershed health.
In early December 2022, LightHawk volunteer pilots Thomas Haas and Alex Wohlwend flew a successful mission to safely transport endangered red wolves. The wolves are a part of population managed by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Saving Animals From Extinction Program (SAFE).
The wolves in this population are used to maintain the genetic diversity of the species and produce offspring for releases as part of the current recovery plans. The purpose of the multi-day mission was to assist in establishing new breeding pairs among some of the 235 red wolves living at the 49 managed care facilities nationally. These wolves were genetically viable matches but were too far apart for ground transportation to be feasible.
The flight involved transporting a wolf from Chattanooga, Tennessee (KCHA) to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington (KTIW). Then, three wolves were picked up from Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and transported from Tacoma. One wolf was delivered to the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, another went to Reflections Riding Arboretum and Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee (KDKX), and the remaining wolf was transported to Ithaca, New York (KITH).
All wolves were paired successfully with their new mates.
The role of LightHawk in wolf and other species recovery programs is growing in importance. LightHawk provides safe, low-stress and efficient transportation so animals can avoid periods on hot, noisy airport ramps, spend long hours in crates or face the possibility of getting bumped from a flight. These factors (and many more) lead to better outcomes. LightHawk is making a real difference in the recovery of many endangered species populations.
Partners Are Saying…
“Without LightHawk we would have had to ship the wolf on a costly commercial flight which would have landed in Chicago, over two hours away. We have done this in the past, but LightHawk was cheaper, more convenient, and far less stressful on the wolf. We will check with LightHawk before transporting any wolves in the future.”
– Pearl Yusuf, Red Wolf Species Survival Plan
The golden-winged warbler is a small bird currently experiencing a substantial decline in population. It has reached the point where it is currently being considered for listing on the Endangered Species Act. In 2021, scientists with the University of Maine placed 35 VHF-coded nanotags on both male and female birds near Rhineland, Wisconsin.
A year later, LightHawk volunteer pilot Dan Silvers flew scientists and their radio telemetry gear over the same area in an attempt to relocate as many of the tagged birds as possible. This required mounting a VHF receiver antenna to the strut of his Cessna 182 ahead of the flight.
As a result of the flight, scientists learned that males and females don’t typically disperse more than half a kilometer from their territories in subsequent breeding seasons. They also learned that their nanotags are able to be detected from above. That information, shared with collaborators, will help researchers in future studies. Partners on the flight felt it was a very useful flight for the work they are doing to preserve the declining population of golden-winged warblers.
7 Lakes Alliance
LightHawk volunteer pilot Jonathon Hinson flew staff from the 7 Lakes Alliance in the greater Belgrade Lakes region of Maine. This was one of a series of flights completed with the organization this year. The alliance supports land and water conservation in the area by engaging with the whole community to achieve clean water, well-stewarded lands, and a vibrant economy. A group of dedicated volunteers and staff protect conservation properties through continuous monitoring and trail maintenance.
With more than 11,000 acres of land currently protected, monitoring efforts are significantly enhanced through the use of flight. Covering the same amount of area from the ground would take considerable time and resources.
The flights aimed to assist them in assessing their portfolio of protected lands in the region. The video and still photos captured from the air provide them with a baseline catalog from which to assess temporal change of forest structure/wetland conditions as well as early season recreational usage of conserved lands.
Volunteer pilot Hinson was able to execute a flight plan that covered the Greater Belgrade Lakes region with a focus on landscapes and associated wetland features. The flexibility of a LightHawk flight allowed them to circle important landmarks to ensure complete data was collected. This would not be possible in commercial flights or from the ground.
Passengers on the flight were able to photograph 90% of the alliance’s fee and easement lands in 1.5 hours of flight time. This one flight allowed the CEO to see the lands she is responsible for the very first time since 2018. The images they collected will be used in communication pieces, donor engagement, and foundation engagement.
California Central Coast Joint Venture
May is Migratory Bird Month and a LightHawk mission, flown by Mark Dedon, supported the protection of migratory bird habitat in California. This flight was a partnership with the newly formed California Central Coast Joint Venture (C3JV). Accomplished photographer and conservationist Jim Dougherty (https://jimdougherty.net/) offered to donate his photography skills to support LightHawk’s work with a few significant conservation efforts, and this is one of those lucky partners.
The central California coast is a very biologically important region for preserving and improving bird habitat. This Joint Venture region stretches from Santa Cruz and Monterey
This flight provided an overview of the C3JV region and allowed Dougherty to capture photos of the habitats of the Central Coast. The images collected will be used for publication to the C3JV website, outreach to partners and other uses. As a new and emerging partnership, characterizing the landscapes, from the urban centers to the agricultural valley bottoms, from the coastal dunes and beaches to the pelagic waters of the California current, is critical to building the case of C3JV’s strategic conservation mission and the support needed to strengthen their durability moving forward.
On The Horizon
As we look forward to a new year, LightHawk will continue to partner with important conservation organizations across the country and continue our vital work in both the U.S. and abroad. We will continue to work with land trusts across the country to preserve and protect wild spaces – providing wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities. We will continue flying legislators, government officials and other stakeholders to provide them with the aerial perspective, giving them the best information possible as they make decisions that will impact the environment for generations to come.
In addition to these ongoing missions, LightHawk’s program team is focused on expanding our work in three additional areas, including the transport of endangered species as well as new conservation initiatives along the Mississippi River and Baja California’s Sea of Cortez. These focus areas will further expand LightHawk’s reach and enhance our contributions to conservation throughout the continent.
LightHawk’s unique ability to accelerate outcomes means that current and future partners working in these areas will experience conservation at the Speed of LightHawk.
Endangered Species Transports
The extinction of animals can have a significant impact on our environment. With the loss of each species, we risk cascading effects on ecosystems, human societies and the planet’s overall health. The conservation of LightHawk and those of our partners aim to prevent species from going extinct and preserve the intricate web of life on Earth for today and for future generations. Extinction is not just a problem in other countries around the world. We are at risk of losing animals right here at home.
In the U.S., many animals have been declared endangered or on the verge of extinction. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 established protections for threatened or endangered species. LightHawk actively works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, zoos across the country, and other partners to directly prevent the extinction of species and support efforts to re-establish wild populations.
Several of these species have been declared “extinct in the wild,” meaning that the only examples of these species were living in captivity. LightHawk has been an important part of re-establishing wild populations. The wild populations are small and susceptible to dangers such as disease, predation, or human actions. Establishing large, healthy populations is crucial for survival of the species. This is what LightHawk is doing currently with Mexican wolves, whooping cranes, and black-footed ferrets. In the coming year, we will expand our work with endangered species, including transporting red wolves and Guam King Fisher.
The efforts of our volunteer pilots to contribute to the recovery of Mexican Wolves is paying off, as evidenced by the gradual improvement in the wild population of this critically endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with partners like LightHawk, aims to replicate these successes in the recovery of endangered Red Wolves. This species, once reduced to less than 20 individuals in captivity, is now a focus for which LightHawk anticipates playing a pivotal role in its recovery effort.
California condors were severely impacted by Avian flu early in 2023, leading to the death of more than 20 birds. This is a setback for an already fragile population. It puts a spotlight on the need to continue our work with partners to ensure a self-sustaining population in the wild. Throughout the upcoming year, LightHawk will continue our work with conservation partners by transporting condors for reproduction, release into the wild, and the continuous monitoring of these majestic animals.
LightHawk is excited to extend our collaborative efforts to aid in the recovery of additional species, like the Guam Kingfisher, also known as Sihek in the native language. This small but beautiful bird was killed off in the wild (island of Guam) in the late 1980s due to the accidental introduction of the brown snake which fed on its eggs. Presently, the Sedgwick County Zoo, in partnership with the USFWS and other collaborators, is spearheading an initiative to boost captive kingfisher numbers and establish a predator-free population on Palmyra Island. This endeavor holds promise for rescuing the species from extinction.
Baja California and the Sea of Cortez
The major challenge this year is initiating new conservation initiatives that yield substantial successes for LightHawk and create opportunities for our pilots to drive change. Our focus is on launching two key initiatives: one aimed at safeguarding Baja and the Sea of Cortez and one centered on preserving the Mississippi watershed.
For years, LightHawk worked in Baja California and the Sea of Cortez. Our actions were key for documenting changes, assessing bird populations, and supporting the protection of key areas. Our work is not complete. This area is considered one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world, particularly due to its rich marine and coastal environment which includes numerous endemic species, important bird populations, and incredibly beautiful and important coastal ecosystems. Many of these ecosystems and species are being threatened due to human development, overexploitation of natural resources, and climate change.
LightHawk is working with several organizations in the Baja California and Sea of Cortez area to launch a new initiative. We are looking to continue our work in the conservation of natural resources, perform assessments of key species, and document the wonders and challenges in the area. We expect to launch this initiative in 2024, and will be looking for pilots willing to travel to the area to perform multi-day missions for land and coastal assessments, the determination and evaluation of coastal ecosystems, and documenting conservation challenges.
2023 has been a year of breaking records. We had the hottest month ever recorded in July. We are experiencing record-braking temperatures in the Caribbean and Atlantic waters, taking extra stress in key marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. Canadian fires have been out of control for many months. The Colorado River continues losing water. LightHawk, with our partners, will continue documenting these extreme events to increase awareness about the impacts that Climate Change is bringing not only to natural ecosystems, but also to humans.
The Mississippi River is the most important waterway in the United States. More than 30 million people depend on it for their water supply. An extensive agricultural industry (more than 90% US agricultural exports) depends on it. A quarter of U.S. fish native to North America live in it. Sixty percent of bird species in North America use the river as their flyway. And commerce traveling the river moved more than 500 million tons of imports, exports and domestic freight. At the same time, the river has been declared one of the most endangered in the U.S., with large amounts of pollutants coming from sewage, industrial activities, and agricultural runoff. Climate change is also threatening the river. In 2022, a historic drought was recorded, decreasing its navigability and impacting the normal flow exchange of goods along the river.
Given these compelling factors, safeguarding the Mississippi River has emerged as a national priority. LightHawk is actively developing a Mississippi initiative with the goal of showcasing the river’s beauty, ecological significance, and the importance of its conservation. Expected to launch in the coming months, this initiative will require pilots equipped for capturing photography and videography of the river’s natural wonders and its threats. Additionally, we are seeking partnerships with conservation organizations, particularly those dedicated to bird preservation, to bolster their assessment and monitoring efforts.
Nadim Abuhaidar • David Acker • Kenneth Adelman* • Gabrielle Adelman* • Jim Afinowich • Terry Alberta • Stephen W Allsop • Thomas AmRhein* • Steve Anderson* • John Anson • Paul Armstrong • Ralph Arwood* • John Baker • Bryan Baker • Daniel Barley • Courtney Barnhorst • Michael Baum* • Greg Bedinger* • Milton Bennett • Jon Berman • Jay Beveridge • Ernie Bitten • Brent Blue • John Bone • Chris Bonter • Zach Border • Blair Bouchier • Chris Boyer* • Art Bridge • William Brine • Norman Brod • Tom Bryant • James Buck • Eileen Burger • Gregory Burnett • Brandon Butsick • Jim Cameron • Anthony Carson • John Chlopek • Scott Cianchette • Bob Cipolli • Frederick Colby • Peter Coltman • David Comarow • Wayne Connor • Denise Corcoran • James Crawford • Charles Crinnian • Warren Dean* • Matthew Debski • Edward DeCastro • Robert Decker* • Mark Dedon* • Thomas Dillon • Reg Dowdall • Patrick Andrew Dunigan • Rick Durden* • Joseph DuRousseau* • Jerry Edgerton • Noam Eisen • James Elegante • C. Rudy Engholm • Jon Engle • Daniel Evans • Jeffrey Fainer • Barbara Filkins* • Richard Filson • Kurt Fischer • Joseph Fischetti • Dennis Fitzpatrick • Eric Sandberg Fogelin • Kenneth Foster • Aaron Foster • James Fulginiti • Jamie Gamble* • Mark Gaponoff* • Steven Garman • Peter Geiler* • Lee Gerstein • Clifford Gill • Bob Gill • Gerald Glaser • Martin Goldfarb • Donald Goodman* • Reg Goodwin • Peter Gordon • Shane Gorman • Lane Gormley* • Kelly Gottlieb* • Emil Gould* • Ney Grant • Eric Grant • Richard Greenawald • Howard Greenberg* • David Grimm • Thomas Haas* • Douglas Harford • David Harnitchek* • Barry Harper • Mike Hart • Benjamin Harvey • Eric Haskel • Hal Hayden • Jeffrey Hazlett • James David Heaney • Randall Henderson • Timothy Hendricks • James Herring • Charles Heywood • Bruce Hinds • Jonathon Hinson* • Jerry Hoogerwerf • Bruce Horn • Susan Hostler • David Houghton* • Jim Houser • Joe Howley • Scott Humphries • Rick Hunt • Arthur Hussey III • Steve Isom • Richard Jacobs • Michael Jesch • Dean Johnson • Kirk Johnson • Thomas Jordan • William Joyner* • Jerry Karlsberg • Joe Keeton* • Chris Keithley • Robert Keller* • Steve Kent* • Alan Kinback* • John King • Steve Kiss • Jim Knowles • Richard Koril • Jason Kozak • David Krahn • David Kunkel • Nathan Kurth • John Kusianovich • Paul Kutler • Hubert Lacey • Vincent Lalomia • Jonathan Lampitt • Robert Lange • Michael Langston • Timothy Lapage • Andreas Lauschke • Tom LeCompte • John-Michael Lee • Ray Lee* • Ted Leenerts • Roy Lewallen* • Jeremy Lezin • Todd Libke • Gary Lickle* • Perry Lindsay • Robert Lober • Brian Locascio • Jack Long* • Allen Low • Pavel Lukes • Douglas Lumgair • Ryan Lunde • Matthew Machen • Jeanne MacPherson • John Mahany • Mark Mantei • John Marcinkevich • Miguel Marin • Dan Marks* • Allen Mathews • James Matthews • Carl Mattson • Michael Maya Charles • Michael McBride • Wayne McClelland* • Richard McCraw • Bruce McLean* • Mike McNamara • Richard McSpadden • Mark Merrill • John Merritt • Steve Meyer* • David Miller • William Mims • Anne Minder* • Doug Monger • Tony Moradian • David Morrison • Fredric Moskol • Wayne Munson • Russell Munson • David Murphy • Arlene Myers Alexander • Val Nasano • Ken Newbury* • Janice Newman • Bill Nicolai • Jane Nicolai • Peter Niewieroski • Paul Novak • Gerold Noyes • Geoffrey R. Nye • Paul O’Bagy • David Osher • Patrick Paap • Robert Panebianco • Gregory Paulin* • Larry Petro • John Plaza • Steven Poirot • Geoff Pope • Stephen Powell • Mike Poznansky • R Daniel Prentiss • John Priscu* • William Psaledakis • Sandy Quillen • Bruce Ray • Joe Reaves • Tomer Regev • Rex Reynolds • Ross Rice* • Jim Richards • David Riffle* • Patrick Riley • Kevin Roache • Leon Robert • Lisa Robertson • Mark Robidoux • James Robinson • Nelson Ronsvalle • Chuck Rosenfeld • Jane Rosevelt* • Eric Ross • Polly Ross • Rob Ross • Jim Roswell • Bill Rush* • Scott Ryan • John Sandvig • Wayne Sayer* • Michiko Saylor* • Michael Schaffer • Charles Schildecker • Jim Schmidt* • Michael Schroeder* • Chuck Schroll* • Susan Schwaab • Terry Scott • Michael Scott • Jerrold Seckler • Scott Sedam • Donna Shannon • David Shapiro* • Ken Shapiro • Dan Silvers* • Skip Slyfield • Bob Smith* • JP Soldo • Jochen Spengler • Micheal Spurgeon • Jay Steffenhagen • Bob Stoecker • Eric Stoltz • Dick Stone • Michael Sutton • Bill Tarmey • Timothy Taylor • Zachary Thomas • Robert Thomas* • Dan Thompson • McHenry Tichenor • Tom Tillman • Timothy Timmons Timothy Toal • G.Val Tollefson • Wayland Tonning • Kelly Trigg-Grossetete* • Marijke Unger • Rick Utermoehlen • Julian Veitch • Gilberto Velez-Domenech* • Michael Venturino • Matt Verdieck • Greg Vernon • Varlin Vissepo • Herb Wagers • Park Walker • Charles Walling • David Warner* • Peter Watkins • Terri Watson • David Weeks • David Weissman • Peter Welles • Lynn Welling • Rich Wellner • Stephanie Wells* • Randall Wells • Cory West • Michael White • Judston Wickwire • Kent Wien* • Rhon Williams • Brian Williams • Steve Williams* • John Wilson • Robert Woodley • Will Worthington* • Chuck Yanke • Scott Young • Andy Young • Mark Zaller
YEARS OF SERVICE
* Pilots who donated missions for LightHawk during the 2022-2023 year.
Volunteer Pilot Awards
Spirit of LightHawk Award
Bill & Betty Rockwell Award
Rookie of the Year
Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman
$50,000 and above
Buehler Aviation Research Foundation
Cornell Douglas Foundation
Smart Family Foundation
The Eucalyptus Foundation
The Volgenau Foundation
Thomas W. Haas Foundation
Walton Family Foundation
William Penn Foundation
Benedict Family Foundation
Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation
James and Christine Gamble
David and Gale Kunkel
The Batchelor Foundation, Inc.
Jim Becker and Mimi Macksoud
Blyler- Thompson Charitable Fund
Central Arizona Project
Robert and Susan Crenshaw
Mark and Willow Follett
Ray Lee and Sue Morgensen
Jack and Carolyn Long
Josh and Becky Marvil
Christina and Douglas McVie
John and Margaret Sandvig
Wendy Shattil, Share the View Photo Contest
Celia P. Taylor
Textron Charitable Trust
The Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman Fund
The Nature Conservancy
Philip Walker and Cheryl Tritt
Sandy and Will Worthington
Nadim and Maggie Abuhaidar
Agricultural Stewardship Association
Dr. Baggish and Ms. Winter
Reinier and Nancy Beeuwkes
Bowdens Heart Fund
Christopher and Jennifer Boyer
David and Martha Cole
Diane and Seth Davidson
Judith S. Engelberg
J Henry Fair
Fanwood Foundation West
Robert and Carol Keller via Keller Family Fund, a donor advised fund of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties
Erin & Whitney Manzitto-Tripp
Larry and Gail Mayo
Peter and Nancy Mickelsen
Lisa and Steve Robertson
Merry Schroeder and David Matthews
Jochen Spengler and Elena De Angelis
The Benevity Community Impact Fund
The Boston Foundation
Albright Accounting Services
David Hindin and Sally Bloomberg
Sally and Tom Cahill
Tim and Anne Davies
Deborah and William Roach Trust
Rudy and Grace Engholm
John and Paula Foy
Jason and Linda Lillegraven
Michael and Lisa Lorden
Edward J. Pushich
Wayne and Paula Sayer
Kevin and Sara Tolman
Margot B. Unkel
Rowene Aguirre-Medina and Roy G. Medina
Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation
Scott Allen Barber
George and Anita Berlacher
Penny L. Blubaugh
Eileen J. Carney
Michelle Carter and Michael Venturino
Louise T. Chow and Thomas R. Broker
Margaret and Ron Claypool
Benjamin Drummond and Sara Steele
Jerry and Jeanne Fiorito
Mary Ann Frye
Mark M. Giese
Donald and Natala Goodman
P. Hawk Greenberg
Robert and Sharon Handelsman
Richard A. Horvitz
Phillip and Audrey Huffman
Kirk and Leslie Johnson
L. Christine Judson
Jane Ann Lamph
Robert Lenox & Sharon Smith-Lenox
Jacopo and Robyn Lenzi
Robert Linck and Leanne Klyza Linck
Tony and Maureen Malmed
Nancy B. Marsh
Joelle R. Mauthe
James A. McClure
Dan and Diane Meyer
Jim Mitchell and Nonie & Bill Newman
Glenn C. Muhr
Russell W. Munson, Jr.
Network for Good
Mary Kaye O’Neill
Ocean Defenders Alliance
John and Lani Ochs
David and Terri Pagni
Jeffrey A. Soots
Tracy C. Thompson
Tom and Sue Tuxill
R. Thomas and Donna Miller Ward
Richard and Kathleen Westcott
Barbara J. Wilhite
John and Jill Winter
James A. Wood
Bryan L. Wyberg
In Honor Of…
Christina and Douglas McVie in honor of Greg Bedinger
Claire Bridges in honor of Todd Bridges
Jerrold Seckler in honor of Josh Marvil
John and Paula Foy in honor of Rudy Engholm
Loucinda McLean in honor of Jack Long
Michele and Howard Rutledge in honor of John and Edwina Newell
Stephen Law in honor of Dr. Sarah Rinkevich
In Memory Of…
Albright Accounting Services in memory of Jim Roush
Tim and Anne Daviesin memory of John Magoffin
James Kochevar in memory of John O Magoffin
John Newell in memory of Edwina K. Nesbitt Newell
Jim Mitchell and Nonie & Bill Newman in memory of John O. Magoffin, Jr
Linda Nicholes in memory of Bob Nicholes
Jean Schulz in memory of Nydia Goode
7 Lakes Alliance
Agricultural Stewardship Association
Alexander Heilner, Photographer
Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative
Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation
American Rivers NW WA
American Rivers- Upper Mississippi River Basin
Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Aspen Valley Land Trust
Babbitt Center, Water & Tribes Initiative
Bear Yuba Land Trust
Benjamin Drummond + Sara Joy Steele
Bill Hatcher, Photography
Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center- USFWS
Bodega Marine Laboratory
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge- US Fish & Wildlife Service
Business for Water Stewardships
California Central Coast Joint Venture
Cascades Carnivore Project
Catalina Island Conservancy
CBS Morning News
Central Arizona Project
Central Colorado Conservancy
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
City of Flagstaff
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
Collier County Pollution Control
Colorado River Sustainability Campaign
Colorado River Water Users Association
Colorado Water Institute
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Dave Showalter Nature Photography
David Moskowitz, photographer
Eagle Valley Land Trust
Earth Concerns International
Fazal Sheikh, Photographer
Finger Lakes Land Trust
Food & Water Watch
Food and Water Watch- Delaware
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Friends of Ironwood Forest
Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Friends of the Everglades
Friends of the Gualala River
Friends of the Verde River
Friends of the Yampa
Gallatin Valley Land Trust
Gallatin Wildlife Association
George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center
Go Austin/Vamos Austin (GAVA)
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Greater Hells Canyon Council
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
High Country News
High Desert Partnership
Honor the Earth
IDW Test Partner
Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association
Inland Empire Task Force
Institute for Wildlife Studies
International Crane Foundation
International Dark-sky Association
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Rivers Revival
J Henry Fair, Photographer
Jackson Hole Land Trust
Jefferson Land Trust
Jon Waterman, Photographer
King County Water and Land Resources Division
Lauren Owens, Photographer/Videographer
Los Angeles Waterkeeper
Los Padres ForestWatch
Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Marine Life Studies Whale Entanglement Team
Massachusetts Coastal Pine Barrens Partnership
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Mono Lake Committee
National Caucus of Environmental Legislators
National Geographic Magazine
National Marine Sanctuaries
Natural Resources Council of Maine
Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife
Neil Ever Osborne Communications
New England Forestry Foundation
New Hampshire Audubon
New Jersey Highlands Coalition
New Mexico Game & Fish
New Mexico PBS
Nez Perce Tribe
North Carolina Zoological Society
North Cascades Conservation Council
Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative
Northwest Biological Consulting
Ocean Defenders Alliance
Oregon Natural Desert Association
Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition
Oregon State University
Pete McBride, Photographer
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Red Wolf Species Survival Plan
Rensselaer Plateau Alliance
Restauremos el Colorado AC
Rig to Flip
Santa Barbara Zoo
Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
Sedgwick County Zoo
Sky Island Alliance
Sonoma Land Trust
South Platte River Waterkeeper
SR3 Sealife Response, Rehab and Research
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Tampa Bay Watch
The Coalition for Wetlands and Forests
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey
The Nature Conservancy-Arizona
The Nature Conservancy-California
The Nature Conservancy-Colorado
The Nature Conservancy-New Jersey, The Delaware Bayshores Office
The Redford Center
The Story Group
The Whale Museum
Tom Hegen, Fotodesign
Trout Unlimited-National Office
Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land-Maine State Office
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust
Tuolumne River Trust
University of Central Florida
University of Colorado- Boulder- Center for Environmental Journalism
University of Maine
Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board
Upper Valley Land Trust
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Washington’s National Park Fund
Water & Tribes Initiative
White Abalone Captive Breeding Program, UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab
Winter Wildlands Alliance
Wissahickon Trails (formerly Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association)
Woodie Wheaton Land Trust
World Parrot Trust
Yakama Nation Fisheries
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative-US Office
Development and Administrative Associate
Strategic Communications Manager
Diego L. Gil-Agudelo
Director of Conservation
Director of Advancement
Board of Directors
Erin Cook, San Francisco, Calif.
Kimberly Eckert, Denver, Colo.
Steve Kent, Warwick, NY
David Kunkel, Boulder, Colo.
Chris Lee, Austin, Texas
Josh Marvil, Yarmouth, Maine
Erin Manzitto-Tripp, Denver, Colo.
Will Worthington, Carefree, Ariz.
Barry Baker, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colo.
Greg Bedinger, Tucson, Ariz.
Brent Blue, Jackson, Wyo.
Russ Cowart, Fort Collins, Colo.
Rick Durden, Conifer, Colo.
Rudy Engholm, Cumberland Foreside, Maine
John and Martha King, San Diego, Calif.
Tom McMurray, Jackson, Wyo.
Sally Ranney, Colorado
Michael Sutton, Carmel Valley, Calif.
Terri Watson, Lander, Wyo.
Stephanie Wells, Arvada, Colo.
Brian Williams, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Make Conservation Fly
This year’s guiding theme, “Conservation at the Speed of LightHawk,” highlights the urgency with which LightHawk is tackling the vast environmental challenges facing our planet. But we recognize that we cannot do this important work alone.
Your gifts, no matter the size, accelerate LightHawk’s conservation success and shine a light on the path to a better future for us all. Every dollar donated, every flight hour contributed, and every partnership forged is instrumental in revealing new insights and driving positive change.
LightHawk embarks on a mission to capture more than just images – we aim to document a story of change that the world needs to see. By taking to the skies for conservation, we raise awareness, inspire conversations, motivate informed decisions, and compel people to action in the fight to preserve our planet’s natural resources.
We invite you to stand with us in safeguarding our precious landscapes, watersheds, and wildlife for future generations. Together, we amplify our impact and make a lasting difference in safeguarding the natural world we need and cherish.
Please visit LightHawk.org or scan the QR Code below to make a gift and harness the power of collective action at the speed of LightHawk.
Let’s turn our shared dreams of a better world into a reality!
What We Do
Pilots & Partners
Pilots & Partners
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LightHawk is headquartered in beautiful Colorado.
Mail Service: P.O. Box 2751, Grand Junction, CO 81502 970-797-9355 ©2022, All Rights Reserved.