2003 David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award winners

Orna Izakson and Dawn Stover, leaders of the Society of Environmental Journalism's growing Mentor Program, have been chosen the 2003 recipients of the David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award for outstanding volunteer service to SEJ.

Izakson and Stover "took SEJ's mentoring program to a new level of activity this year," said SEJ Director Beth Parke. The program pairs veteran environmental reporters with newcomers to the beat, or with less experienced reporters who want to improve their skills.

Begun in October 2001 as a pilot project, the Mentor Program formally kicked off last July, and now has 17 mentors and 22 "mentees" (for lack of a better word) signed up. Of those people, 11 mentors have been matched with mentees so far.

Mentors typically critique stories and offer advice to their mentees via e-mail, telephone or in person. They also get together at special mentoring events at SEJ's annual conferences.

Izakson and Stover were chosen from a field of nominees who had all given great service to SEJ in the past year, according to Stolberg Award judge Tim Wheeler. Yet the judges agreed that the pair's leadership in expanding the all-volunteer Mentor Program clearly demonstrates the kind of commitment and selflessness that the Stolberg Award is intended to recognize, he added.

In addition to her mentoring work, Izakson has covered environmental issues for newspapers and magazines around the country since 1993. She lives near the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon, where she is a a freelancer and at work on a book about the Klamath Basin.

Stover works three days a week as the science editor of Popular Science. She joined the magazine in 1986, and since 1991 has been telecommuting from a log cabin near White Salmon, Washington. Also at work on a nonfiction book proposal, she focuses on the biological sciences, particularly ecology and biodiversity.

"These two richly deserve this award," said SEJ President Dan Fagin. "They are not only running a very important program for SEJ, they're also coming up with lots of creative ideas to make it better. Mentoring captures the essence of what SEJ is all about: journalists helping other journalists, for the betterment of journalism. The program works so well because it's so flexible, and because we have two amazing volunteers doing the matchmaking. The fact that we've been able to match so many pairs is a great compliment not only to Orna and Dawn, but also to the many SEJers who have stepped up to volunteer to be mentors. Even so, the demand for mentors is still exceeding the supply, so I hope we'll get many more volunteers."

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