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Big Thicket Association honors LU's Westgate

The Big Thicket Association tapped Lamar University’s Jim Westgate with its prestigious R.E. Jackson Conservation Award Saturday. 

University Professor Jim Westgate“Dr. James Westgate has served as an active director of the Big Thicket Association Board since 2009, and his expertise is highly valued,” said Mary Johnston. “As a teacher of teachers, his work significantly impacts appreciation and understanding of the unique geology of the Big Thicket and has truly made a difference.” 

Through the award, the association recognizes “a leader with exceptional service and outstanding contributions to conservation and scientific research.” The honor is named after the president of the East Texas Big Thicket Association, R. E. Jackson, whose preservation efforts began in the late 1920s and continued until his death in 1957. Past honorees include Senator Ralph W. Yarborough, Geraldine Watson, Arthur Temple and Congressman Charles N. Wilson. 

Westgate, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, served as president of the Texas Academy of Sciences in 1999-2000 and received its outstanding services award in 2008. He has accrued 24 years of service as a Lamar University professor of Earth and Space Sciences. 

Since 2001, Westgate has served as science advisor and associate director of the JASON Alliance of Southeast Texas.  Each year the project attracts around 10,000 students and 200 science teachers to the Lamar campus.  For 18 years, Westgate served as science advisor for Teaching Environmental Science in the Three Rivers Watershed’s and Wetlands K-12 Teacher Institute that always includes field trips on the Neches River and Village Creek. 

In 2011, Westgate received the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award for his dedication to the teaching profession and his outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievements. Westgate has received more than 45 grants, authored a book, four book chapters, published 31 research articles and 84 peer-reviewed articles. 

We sincerely appreciate his contributions to the preservation of the Big Thicket,” Johnston said. “His leadership has brought significant name recognition for the Big Thicket.” 

Westgate is a member of the BTA Executive Board and will serve as its treasurer for 2014-2015. 

For more information, visit Big Thicket.