The Conservation Medal, a memorial to Mrs. Leslie H. Gray, given by the Dolley Madison Garden Club of Orange, was first awarded forty years ago, in 1965. It is presented annually to a club or to an individual member of the Garden Club of Virginia who, in the judgment of the Conservation Committee, has rendered outstanding service in the dissemination of knowledge of the natural resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the conservation and wise development of such natural resources. I am very pleased, on behalf of the committee, to present the 2005 De Lacy Gray Medal to a woman who has proven through action, not just words, that if citizens get involved, a difference can be made. She not only participated in these actions; she helped lead them. There are few people in this lovely place tonight who are not aware of the leadership roles she has assumed in her own community and in the entire Commonwealth, so as soon as I begin to mention some of her accomplishments, you will be able to identify her! We are so very proud that one of our own has contributed so much to the conservation and beautification of Virginia's Natural Resources. She holds the admiration and respect of all members of the environmental community.
Her wonderfully efficient leadership skills, vision, dedication, and her expertise in organization and planning have led her into important positions both in the Garden Club of Virginia and in the public sector as well. As you might expect, she has served as Conservation Chairman of her club. She has also been its vice president, and she is now it's president-elect. If that is not enough, she just co-chaired Historic Garden Week for her club! She is a former member of the GCV Conservation Committee. In her community, she and her husband were leaders of a group formed to preserve open space and farmland and to prevent development in her county which would have infringed upon historically significant areas. Needless to say, they were successful.
First elected to the board of the Virginia Conservation Network in 1999, she served as its treasurer from 2001-2003. In October of 2003, she was elected the President of the Board. The VCN is the umbrella organization for all of Virginia’s environmental organizations, and as you might imagine, there are often many opinionated people offering different solutions for different problems! In her calm and humble way, she manages to allow everyone to voice his or her concern, and with skill, diplomacy and quiet humor, she brings people to consensus. She has the absolutely remarkable ability to make everyone feel included and needed. Being President of the Board, she sits on the Executive and Legislative Committees, both of which meet often. She also manages to attend other committee meetings, as well as meet with legislators and potential donors, especially during the hectic General Assembly sessions. And when a mass mailing needs to get out, you can count on her being there to help. There is no job too large or too small for her to take. Many of us watched with great pride at the VCN's 35th Anniversary and Recognition Dinner last month as she awarded our own Bunny Murray and Bessie Carter the Mighty Oak Award for their contributions to the protection and enhancement of Virginia's environment. Martha Wingfield is, without a doubt, one of the most loved and respected environmentalists in the Commonwealth, and we are pleased to honor her this evening! Congratulations, Martha!