2020 Awards


The highest award given by the NHGS Planning Committee, the Lifetime Achievement Award, is intended to recognize exceptional and sustained activity demonstrated in Research, Education, Natural Resource Management and/or Policy centered in the Gila Region of southwest New Mexico and/or southeast Arizona.

Art Telles is a native of the Southwest, born and raised in El Paso, TX.  He graduated from New Mexico State University as a double major, earning a B.S. in both Wildlife and Fisheries.  While in school, he worked seasonally for the Lincoln National Forest, thinning trees and working on a spruce budworm spray crew.  Art’s official career in public service began when he landed a coveted fisheries internship (COOP) with the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon.  He then traveled back to the Southwest, finishing out his internship on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona, where he was converted to a full-time employee.  His 5 years on the Apache-Sitgreaves involved working on developing partnerships, inventorying streams and working on the first watershed restoration project for Apache trout, on the West Fork Black River and several of its tributaries.  Art then headed back east to Texas where he spent 2 years on the National Forests of Texas as a District Biologist (his first wildlife job), swimming with cotton mouths and re-establishing the elusive red-cockaded woodpecker colonies.  Back west it was to the Pecos Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest where he spent 3 years as the District Biologist, helping to develop guidance criteria for grazing consultations across the Region, and working to re-establish Rio Grande cutthroat into historical habitat.  Art then traveled south to the greatest gem of them all, the Gila National Forest.  He served as the District Biologist on the Black Range Ranger District spending much of his time helping to develop and implement the District’s prescribed fire program.  He then moved on to the Gila’s Forest Fish Biologist position, jumping all in to support the Gila trout and Chiricahua leopard frog recovery programs, including assisting in multiple stream renovations and working to establish leopard frog refugia habitats.  He devoted great energy and effort to protecting riparian habitats by securing funding for fencing and implementing exclusions.   He played an important role in getting a fire ecologist hired on the Gila and in integrating the natural resource and fire programs on the Gila.  Art played a key role in the Southwest Region, serving with a team of fish biologists preparing consultations for Wildland Urban Interface projects, which subsequently helped to protect communities like Alpine, AZ during large wildfires.  Art graduated to the Forest Biologist, and ultimately ended his 33-year career as the Forest Natural Resources and Planning Staff Officer.  Throughout his tenure, he supported and championed large-scale projects including the Luna Restoration Project, the Escudilla Landscape Watershed Restoration Action Plan, Travel Management Planning, and Forest Plan Revision.  With his booming voice and presence, Art has always been an advocate for the resource, and for young natural resource specialists.


This award is given for outstanding efforts in species preservation, land management, or natural resource conservation within or across the greater Gila Region. The Conservation Award acknowledges one individual or group who demonstrates overwhelming positive conservation principles. The nominee must have shown long-term benefits for the natural environment in the Gila Region of southwest New Mexico and/or southeast Arizona.

Joe is a long-time resident of Grant County, New Mexico.  He is a Native American from the Warm Springs Apache (Chiricahua/Huichol) and band of Red Paint people.  As a Native American Joe has strived to practice his native culture and ethics through his lifestyle, career, business relations and outreach to the Apache people.  He is an educator through and through with the goal of preserving the Apache culture while there are still Elders who can tell the stories.

Joe is owner/operator of WolfHorse Outfitters where he is licensed to practice outfitting and guiding on the Gila National Forest.  Through this venue he shares outdoor and wilderness ethics, horsemanship and low impact lifestyle with his customers at a personal level.  He is also much sought after as a technical consultant of the Apache culture by the film, TV and written medias.

Joe is co-founder of the Red Paint Pow Wow, now in its tenth season.  This venue is instrumental in bringing Apache people together to share their dances and customs, to preserve the Apache culture and to educate the public.

Joe is also Nantan (Chief) of the Chiricahua Apache Nation.  As a member of Tribal Council, he has worked diligently for the last decade to bring recognition to this branch of the Apache people to preserve a cultural history, lifestyle and to return the “lost” children to their land and to build a nation.


Nick Smith is a native New Mexican, having been born and raised in and around the greater Gila Region. His life has always been surrounded by the natural history of the Gila, having been raised in the household of a career Game and Fish officer, dog man, and big cat expert. In his own right, Nick developed into a the same kind of man, and also a competent outdoorsman and conservationist. Nick began his career with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in 1980 as a seasonal technician. He became a permanent employee in 1983, working on desert bighorn reintroductions and depredation work in southeastern New Mexico. He then moved back to western New Mexico and lived and worked out of the NMDGF Heart Bar property near the Gila Cliff Dwellings, working on depredation efforts and as a conservation officer assigned to the Gila Wilderness.  During that time he began working with Gila trout recovery efforts in 1985 and became an invaluable asset.  Subsequently he moved to Quemado to work as a conservation officer and habitat specialist, before ending his career as a Mexican wolf recovery field biologist the last nine years. Nick retired in 2008 from NMDGF, but continued on as a contractor working with Mexican wolf and Gila trout recovery programs. Nick has also spent considerable time in Mexico putting his expertise to work on northern jaguar conservation. At present he is working in southern coastal mountains of Mexico trapping jaguars and mountain lions for radio telemetry studies.


The recipient of this award educates, engages and motivates students, colleagues, and the community beyond the classroom, providing a model of excellence for conservation education, stewardship, and leadership in the Gila Region of southwest New Mexico and/or southeast Arizona.


A Natural History of the Gila Symposium Student Award of $200 is presented to a high school, undergraduate, or graduate student for outstanding work conducted in the area of science, conservation, education and/or policy focused on the Gila Region of southwest New Mexico and/or southeast Arizona. Individuals interested in nominating a student must submit their nomination two months in advance of the Symposium. The nomination must include a few sentences explaining why the nominator believes the student’s work is eligible for the award. The Student Award Committee will then review the submitted nominations and notify the student winner of the award at least six weeks prior to the Symposium. The winning student is required to present his/her work at the Symposium in the form of a poster or oral presentation. The monetary award to the student will also be presented during the Symposium.


The Citizen Science Award recognizes an individual or organization that shows a dedication to science in support of natural resource conservation by collecting and making available data that provide better understanding of the resource. The recipient is recognized for volunteer efforts.

Ron Parry was born and raised in Southern California.  Exposure to the beauty and biodiversity of the California landscape in his youth converted him into a naturalist at a young age.  Though he was fascinated by botany, the gift of a chemistry set from his parents one Christmas morning proved to be a turning point in his life. It eventually led him to a B.S in Chemistry from Occidental College and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Brandeis University.  After graduating from Brandeis, he carried out two years of postdoctoral research in plant biochemistry in the U. K., followed by a year of postdoctoral work at Stanford University. He returned to Brandeis as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1971 and moved to Rice University in 1978.  His research until retirement in 2012 focused on the biochemistry and genetics associated with the formation of natural products, which are the complex toxins, antibiotics, and defense compounds produced by plants, microorganisms, and fungi.  After retirement, he returned to his interests in natural history and began to study moths.