The Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Network, CESU, recently recognized the leadership and individual contributions of Debbie Danford, grants manager for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute and director of the Gulf Coast CESU. The National Individual Contributor Award was announced at the 2023 CESU National Network meeting held in West Virginia.
The CESU is a national alliance of state and federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, as well as nongovernmental conservation organizations supporting research, education and technical assistance across natural resource and cultural management issues.
The Gulf Coast CESU is one of 17 units representing biogeographic regions across the U.S. and is housed within the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, a unit of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
“We are proud to have Debbie as the director of the Gulf Coast unit,” said Roel Lopez, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. “Her contributions to advancing the mission and impacts of the CESU span more than two decades and cannot be overstated.”
Multistate impact on research and education
Danford provides technical guidance and support to more than 80 federal and nonfederal partners across the seven states comprising the Gulf Coast CESU.
“Debbie’s long-term and consistent involvement with the CESU program, considerable knowledge and experience, and collaborative spirit have made her an invaluable resource within the Gulf Coast CESU and across the national network,” said Giselle Mora-Bourgeois, Ph.D., National Park Service liaison for the Gulf Coast CESU. “Her work to develop, nurture and maintain collaborative and cooperative partnerships and relationships, helped to realize ‘the CESU concept’ from the ground up.”
One of Danford’s key accomplishments is establishing a partnership with the U.S. National Park Service to better assess the needs of project managers and principal investigators across the Gulf Coast unit. She also led a team of developers in creating a new Gulf Coast CESU website. Further, thanks to her dedicated efforts, the Gulf Coast network gained 14 new partners in the last five years.
“There are many talented and dedicated partners in the CESU network working together to share resources and expertise while fostering the professional development of current and future scientists and environmental leaders,” Danford said. “To receive national recognition by my colleagues is a great honor.”