Blue Ridge Naturalist Network 2016 Naturalist of the Year award given to George and Elizabeth Ellison on November 12, 2016, in conjunction with NC Arboretum book-signing celebration for the Ellisons.

The Blue Ridge Naturalist Network (BRNN) is an independent not-for-profit naturalist organization founded in 2013 in Asheville with a mission to connect people who share a love for the natural world. Most members of the organization are attending or were trained and certified by the Blue Ridge Naturalist program at the NC Arboretum. Currently, the BRNN represents over 60 community members and over 600 followers and like-minded organizations on social media, and hosts several events and presentations each year.

In 2015, the BRNN presented its first Naturalist of the Year award to Jeanie Martin, who founded the Blue Ridge Naturalist program. This award recognizes contributors who, like Jeanie, have dedicated themselves to the naturalist community in exceptional ways. On November 12, 2016, the BRNN awarded its 2016 Naturalist of the Year award to both George and Elizabeth Ellison for their artistic originality and decades of contributions to education, mentorships, and publications in support of the regional natural history and mountain environment of the Blue Ridge area.

The 2016 BRNN award ceremony for the Ellisons was held in conjunction with a book-signing ceremony, hosted by the NC Arboretum, to commemorate the release of their latest book “Literary Excursions in the Southern Highlands“, which is one of six they have created together. The BRNN was deeply honored to celebrate the Ellisons with the NC Arboretum in November — their commitment to raising awareness, knowledge, and understanding in our mountain region is truly inspiring! Congratulations to George and Elizabeth!

Submitted by Linda Martinson, Secretary of BRNN 3/10/17