2019 National Wetlands Awards Winners

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 National Wetlands Awards!

30th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement
Richard Grant
Narrow River Preservation Association (
Kingston, Rhode Island)

Business Leadership
Greg Sutter
Westervelt Ecological Services (Sacramento, California)

Conservation & Restoration
Joel Gerwein

California State Coastal Conservancy (Oakland, California)

Education & Outreach
Robert Thomas

Loyola University of New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Landowner Stewardship
Tom and Mary Beth Magenau

Tri State Marine (Edgewater, Maryland)

Science Research
Robert Gearheart

Humboldt State University/Arcata Marsh Research Institute (Arcata, California)

State, Tribal, and Local Program Development 
Angela Waupochick

Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans (Keshena, Wisconsin)

 

 

 

 


Richard Grant – 30th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement
Narrow River Preservation Association
Kingston, Rhode Island

Richard Grant has served on the BOD of the Narrow River Preservation for over 30 years and has worked tirelessly to protect, preserve and promote the Narrow River in numerous ways. I have had the honor of serving on the BOD under him as our president for 4 years now and continue to stand in awe of his passion for conservation of the river. From fund raising activities to attending and hosting numerous events, Richard is the driving force of all that the NRPA does for the river and watershed- continuous water quality testing, working with the surrounding communities on improving infrastructure to protect the river, identifying and correcting sources of pollution, promoting beneficial and low-impact use of the river; these are just a few examples. The BOD recently unanimously voted to create the Richard Grant fund with the RI Foundation in honor of all that he has done for the river- a clear confirmation that he is an ideal candidate for this conservation and restoration award as well.

Greg Sutter – Business Leadership
Westervelt Ecological Services
Sacramento, California

Greg Sutter joined The Westervelt Company in 2006 and serves as a Vice President and General Manager of Westervelt Ecological Services (WES). He has worked on mitigation and restoration planning and implementation throughout Northern California for over 40 years.  Mr. Sutter has particular technical experience in brackish, tidal marsh, riparian, and riverine systems. He is an acknowledged leader in mitigation planning, design, and implementation. He oversees all WES’s business planning and budgeting, including capital expenditures, labor, and materials costs, and operations and maintenance expenditures. Mr. Sutter has a B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from Cornell University and an M.S. degree in Ecology from the University of California, Davis.  He is also a past president and board member of the California Society for Ecological Restoration (SERCAL) and has lectured at the University of California, Davis, University of California, Berkeley, and numerous technical conferences on habitat restoration.  Mr. Sutter is also a regular presenter on the mitigation banking process at the annual National Mitigation Banking Conference.  Prior to joining Westervelt, Mr. Sutter was President of another west coast mitigation banking company; previous to entering the mitigation banking field, Mr. Sutter was a principal at Jones & Stokes Associates, a prominent environmental consulting firm based out of Sacramento, California.

Joel Gerwein – Conservation & Restoration
California State Coastal Conservancy
Oakland, California

 Joel has been a lover of the outdoors and an environmentalist since his youth hiking, camping, backpacking, and canoeing with his parents all around the U.S.  Joel studied biology at Harvard College, and went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts-Boston studying old-growth red oak forests in New England.  He has spent the last eleven years working for the California State Coastal Conservancy on projects to protect and restore coastal ecosystems, especially wetlands, on the Northern California Coast, with a focus on Humboldt Bay. Joel’s dedication to restoring wetlands for fish, wildlife and public access to the rich diversity of ecosystems in Humboldt Bay has been exemplary and provides a model for restoring wetland habitats across the nation. Joel has been the impetus in developing projects and acquiring significant funding for seven landscape-scale wetland restoration projects in Humboldt Bay, resulting in significant areas of key habitats in the Humboldt Bay ecosystem restored. Humboldt Bay has lost 90% of its historic tidelands to agriculture, residential, commercial, or industrial uses. The restoration of wetlands in the project area is critical for the recovery of multiple listed species and species of concern including resident and migrating songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds; and several species of fish, including federally threatened coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and endangered tidewater goby. Joel has leveraged SCC funds and authored grant proposals to provide $1,730,000 for the Martin Slough Enhancement Project which was implemented in 2018 and restores 3 acres of salt marsh along the Martin Slough mainstem channel, 1.7 acres of off channel salt marsh, 2,400 ft of mainstem Martin Slough, 3,400 ft of tidal channels, and restores riparian, brackish wetlands and salt marsh vegetation. Joel worked diligently to provide funding for the acquisition of a portion of the project area, prepared the environmental compliance document and authored grants to raise additional funding for the project ($1.4 million). Joel has leveraged SCC funds and authored grant proposals to provide $436,800 for the Wood Creek Enhancement Project which completed implementation in 2017 and restored approximately 5 acres of interconnected, shallow, seasonal brackish and freshwater wetlands to create habitat for shorebirds, migratory birds, and a wide diversity of native plants and wildlife. This project has also restored 2.5 acres of marsh and riparian vegetation and monitoring has shown that threatened coho have immediately recolonized this area and are thriving in these new habitats. Joel has provided leadership and authored grant proposals to provide $540,074 for the South Jacoby Creek Enhancement Project which completed implementation in 2018 and restored a 29-acre complex of wetlands associated with Jacoby Creek in Humboldt Bay. The project restored a 2.21-acre marsh channel network that is permanently flooded, 1.5 acres of freshwater marsh plain, marsh planting islands, a 1.66 acre guide berm to reduce juvenile salmonid stranding, 2 acres of seasonally flooded shallow depressional wetlands, 2,000 feet of freshwater channels and, 3.7 acres of riparian and marsh riparian restoration to provide habitat for threatened salmonids. Joel has authored the environmental compliance documents and secured funding to provide $1,950,000 for the White Slough Enhancement Project which began implementation in 2018 and restores 40 acres of salt marsh in Humboldt Bay. The White Slough Restoration Project involves importing ~250,000 cubic yards of sediment to raise the elevation of subsided diked historic tidelands to salt marsh elevations. Since 2013, Joel has led the effort to secure $1,900,000 for the Humboldt Bay Regional Invasive Spartina Project, worked with partners to conduct research on Spartina removal methodologies, organized symposia on the ecology of invasive Spartina and the effects of removal efforts, and authored environmental compliance documents for the regional effort. Invasive dense-flowered Spartina has infested over 90% of salt marshes in the three adjacent estuaries of Humboldt Bay, the Eel River Delta, and the Mad River Estuary. It is known to displace native vegetation, reducing the biodiversity of the salt marsh dramatically. Joel’s leadership on this project has significantly reduced spartina occurrences in Humboldt Bay, completing 350 of 1,030 mapped acres of Spartina infestation in Humboldt Bay and has provided a model for other west coast estuaries to treat their spartina infestations. Joel provided leadership and secured $950,000 to acquire and protect 116 acres coastal wetlands in Ryan Slough and Ryan Creek as part of the larger McKay Community Forest Project. Ryan Creek is a tributary to Humboldt Bay that supports important habitat for resident and migrating songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds; and critical spawning, rearing, and migration habitat for anadromous fish, including federally threatened coho salmon and steelhead trout. Of the 192-acre project area for this protection effort, approximately 50 percent is comprised of nationally decreasing types of freshwater and brackish marsh and riparian forest, which are imperiled in California. Finally, Joel has led an effort to enhance wetlands and adjacent uplands at PALCO Marsh, a 39 acre tidal marsh utilized by over 90 bird species and over 100 plant species in Humboldt Bay. The project, implemented in 2014, replaced a collapsed culvert currently connecting PALCO Marsh with the bay that resulted in an approximately 0.6-foot increase in tidal range within the marsh, improving the water quality and providing passage for salmonids and other aquatic species. Joel’s dedication to restoring significant acres of freshwater, brackish and saltwater wetlands throughout Humboldt Bay has been inspirational and has had a significant impact on the ecosystem thus far.

Robert Thomas – Education & Outreach
Loyola University of New Orleans 
New Orleans, Louisiana 

 

• First formal wetland ecology courses under Jake Valentine, Johnny Lynch, and Dr. John Theriet at USL • Spent quality time in the Louisiana and Texas Coastal marshes in the 1960s • High school science teacher, 1968-1971, at Arnaudville High in Louisiana – much field work in the marshes and swamps with students • Grad school (and serving as instructor) Texas A&M University 1971-1977. • Directed Youth Conservation Corp program at St. Bernard and Brazoria NWRs summers of 1976 & 1977 – focused on coastal marsh ecology in Texas and Louisiana • Post-doc at LSU Medical Center New Orleans where, among other things, we worked on various aspects of the biochemistry of alligators • Founding Director of Louisiana Nature Center – 1978 – That year, USGS topomaps were updated since 1956 – first hard data regarding rates of coastal loss in Louisiana – made it the focus of programs at LNC, and opened in 1980 with first ever exhibit on the topic • Began teaching Mississippi River Delta Ecology at Univ. NO (1981), and have consistently taught this course until now (now at Loyola University) • Served on faculty of highly-successful M.A.S.T. (Master of Arts in Science Teaching) Program at the University of New Orleans. Instructed high school science teachers in advanced environmental science and biology courses. • Vice President for Environmental Policy at the Audubon Institute, NOLA 1994-1996 • Senior Scientist, Conservation and Environmental Research, Audubon Institute Center for Research on Endangered Species, The Audubon Institute, New Orleans, La., 1996-1998. • Chief Naturalist, Cypress Swamp Tours, Inc., Westwego, La., 1996-2001. (during this time, co-founded The Cypress Academy, a not-for-profit educational organization whose purpose was to give educational opportunities to guides and boat captains in the swamp tour business so that they provided informed, focused presentations to their customers). • Hold the Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication, Loyola University New Orleans, 1996 to present. Professor of Mass Communication, and faculty in Biological Sciences and The Environment Program. • Founded and directed both the Loyola Center for Environmental Communication and Institute for Environmental Communication since 1998 and 1999, respectively. Both has focused largely on coastal communication. • Senior Environmental Advisor, Mullikin Law Firm, Camden, SC, 2011-2013; Senior Environmental Advisor, Government, Policy and Regulatory Affairs Team, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte, NC, 2007-2011. • Founder of Louisiana Master Naturalist Program, which now has 7 chapters statewide. • Have served on the boards of a number of coastal focused not-for-profits (examples: Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana; Restore the Earth; Orleans Audubon Society; City Park Improvement Association [started their stewardship committee]; Association of Nature Center Administrators, Strategic Petroleum Reserve [chair, Environmental Advisory Chair]; New Harmony High School [focused on coastal issues]; Louisiana Children’s Museum; Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad; Policy Advisory Committee for the Outer Continental Shelf, Minerals Management Service; President G. H. W. Bush's Domestic Policy Task Force hearing (New Orleans) on no-net-loss of wetlands; and more). • Extensive experience on radio, TV, documentaries, etc. on wetland issues internationally. Awarded five (5) Bronze Tellys for documentaries on climate change, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, and finding Common Ground on environmental and social issues. • Worked on years-long effort to establish the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildife Refuge, the only one within the boundaries of a large metropolitan area. • Has received honors/awards for his academic accomplishments, civic leadership, environmental role model, service to education, professional leadership, and conservation education. • Received grants for the following programs/projects: 1. Thomas, R.A., Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi, National Science Foundation subcontract, videos and website work summarizing success by scientists regarding the BP oil disaster, $20,000, November 2011-December 2012. 2. Thomas, R. A., America’s WETLAND Foundation, “Update of Wetlands Resource Center on website of America’s WETLAND Campaign,” $20,000, 2010. 3. Thomas, R. A., America’s WETLAND Foundation, “Design of Wetlands Resource Center on website of America’s WETLAND Campaign,” $50,000, 2005. 4. Thomas, R. A., National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, “Documentary on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet,” $80,000, 2003-2004. 5. Thomas, R. A., “Public Workshop Series,” Barataria-Terrebone National Estuary Program, $49,286, 1997. 6. Thomas, R.A. and P. J. Thomas. “Environmental Education in the Lower Mississippi River Basin” The McKnight Foundation, $95,000, 1995-1996. 7. Banbury, M. M., P. J. Thomas, R. A. Thomas, J. H. Miller, & C. E. Wellington. “Wetlands Blues,” Urban Waste Management & Research Center, $28,000, 1991-1992. 8. Banbury, M.M., P. J. Thomas, R. A. Thomas, J. H. Miller, & C. E. Wellington. “Project CEED: Coastal education for economic development,” LEQSF (1991-94)-RD-B-14, $151,710 for 1991-1994. 9. Thomas, R.A., P. J. Thomas, & M. M. Banbury. “Environmental activity book for at risk students.” Chevron U.S.A., $60,000, 1991-1993. 10. Thomas, R. A., P. J. Thomas, and M. M. Banbury. "Coastal Louisiana: Ecological investment in the Gulf of Mexico," National Science Foundation grant number MDR 8850978 (Informal Science Education), $117,000, 1989-1990.

Tom and Mary Beth Magenau – Landowner Stewardship
Tri State Marine
Edgewater, Maryland

 

For over 20 years, Tom and Mary Beth Magenau, founders of Tri State Marine, Inc. (TSM) in Deale, Anne Arundel County, MD have  combined  business goals with sustainable practices to  protect the Chesapeake Bay.  From humble beginnings in 1965, TSM has grown into a successful, full service marine business that sells and services power boats up to 37’. The Magenaus believe that preserving and protecting the Bay makes both business and environmental sense. The company has worked closely with the Corps, Maryland Department of the Environment and Anne Arundel County, to balance preservation and utilization of land as the company continues to grow.  Since 1999 TSM has worked to reforest 20+ acres of an abandoned golf course with wetland trees and plants as well as protecting over 50 acres under conservation easements to the County and to the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET).  TSM implemented measures to reduce the company’s energy consumption including LED lighting, roof and insulation upgrades. In the early 1990’s, low water quality and declining fish population indicated that Bay water quality was in trouble. A temporary ban on fishing for striped bass provided a serious “wake-up call” for all bay-related business interests. The Magenaus recognized that the Deale site presented a unique opportunity for regional storm water management to help address serious sediment pollution. Due to prior land acquisitions, it was possible for TSM to proactively address solutions that reached beyond its own boundaries. TSM acreage is located on the “low end” of a 30 acre drainage area. A low value drainage ditch was conveying an estimated 12,803 pounds of untreated sediment per year from 14 upstream impervious acres, including adjacent MD Rte. 256 and other off-site commercial and residential properties, into Parker Creek and the Bay. Beginning in the early 2000s , TSM  met with Corps,  MDE & AAC personnel  to plan and eventually received permits for a regional storm water management project at that location. In 2010, an AAC Critical Area variance was approved with praise from the hearing officer to Mr. Magenau “for donating his time and money to improve water quality in the area.” This project also received support from South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACRED). In 2015, as business recovered from the recession, TSM partnered with the South River Federation , a successful watershed restoration organization ,  and obtained a grant of over $200,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the County Watershed restoration program.  With this financial support and considerable TSM expense, TSM  created a 60,625 sq. ft. stormwater wetland that will treat  existing sediment  and reduce over 70% of the sediment  flowing untreated into the Bay. This new   wetland will also provide significant habitat for a variety of species. The project has been fully approved. The Magenau’s work over the past 20 years merits recognition.  As noted in the accompanying letter from Kate Fritz, the Executive Director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Magenaus exemplify the kind of landowner stewardship critical to the Alliance’s mission of restoring the Bay. The Magenaus work in wetland and forest preservation, as well remediation of untreated stormwater, represents the kind of model needed to clean up the Bay. They have demonstrated that landowners can work closely with federal, state and county agencies, nonprofits and the community to benefit  the environment while pursuing sustainable business practices.

Robert Gearheart – Science Research
Humboldt State University/Arcata Marsh Research Institute 
Arcata, California

 

Robert Gearheart is an exceptional biologist, engineer, and educator who has dedicated his 40-year career to understanding biogeochemical cycles of wetland systems and how those processes can be leveraged to transform waste to a resource. Throughout his career, Dr. Gearheart served as: 1) an educator, 2) a researcher, 3) a scientific communicator and advocate for appropriate development, and 4) a design engineer implementing full-scale projects. Robert Gearheart is an emeritus professor of environmental engineering at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. Dr. Gearheart taught courses in water quality and chemistry, environmental impact, and wastewater and drinking water treatment for 35 years. He has inspired 100’s of students through his teaching and research on the use of wetlands for wastewater treatment and pollution abatement and the ancillary benefits that this sustainable technology brings to communities. He brought a unique perspective and knowledge on the design of engineered natural treatment systems (specifically constructed wetlands) to the engineering program – infusing a biological perspective that became a program strength and continues today. His teaching and mentorship has influenced 100’s of engineering graduates to consider wetland systems in their design for water treatment. For the past 40 years, Dr. Gearheart has spearheaded groundbreaking research on the use of constructed wetlands for stormwater and wastewater treatment. In 1975, the State and regional government of California proposed a new wastewater treatment plant to serve the three largest populated communities in Humboldt County. Gearheart and his colleagues countered with an innovative solution of a constructed wetland to treat the wastewater, followed by a discharge to Humboldt Bay. Dr. Gearheart argued this alternative had a lower capital and operating cost, was more reliable, used less energy, provided numerous educational and recreational opportunities for Arcata, and enhanced the beneficial uses of Humboldt Bay. He played a pioneering role in interfacing between state and regional politicians and regulators with water quality control boards, and wastewater professionals to pave the way for 40 acres of degraded wetlands to be restored and used as a natural treatment system. He is a founding designer of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary (AM&WS) in Arcata, California that now serves as a wastewater treatment plant, a recreation area, and a wildlife sanctuary. The AM&WS includes 307 acres of freshwater marshes, salt marsh with tidal slough, grassy uplands, tidal mudflats, brackish marsh, 5.4 miles of walking and biking paths and an Interpretive Center that serve over 200,000 visitors every year. The AM&WS is an international model of successful wastewater reuse and wetland restoration and Dr. Gearheart hosts dozens of scientific visitors each year who come to learn more about the system. As the director of the Arcata Marsh Research Institute (AMRI), Dr. Gearheart has continued his research efforts, focusing on understanding the biogeochemical cycles and hydraulics of wetland systems, quantifying the ecosystem benefits of our wetlands, and exploring operational management strategies to improve both BOD reduction and nutrient removal while dealing with the internal load resulting from 35 years of full scale operation of the system. Dr. Gearheart has always been concerned about passing on the knowledge he has learned from his research activities to others. With over 100 technical reports, presentations, and guest lectures, he has freely shared his experience with others, promoting the value of wetlands. He has been the advisor for dozens of senior and graduate projects and theses, and continues his mentoring of students even after retiring from the university. Dr. Gearheart developed and taught a constructed wetland short course for seven years that was attended by several hundred professionals. The course provided ~30 hours of training on the use of free surface constructed wetlands for treatment of wastewater. The course was intended for design engineers and wetland scientists who were interested in the planning, design and management of wetlands for wastewater treatment and pollution abatement. He has consulted on treatment wetland systems world-wide including systems in Mexico, Sierra Leone, Ghana, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Gaza and systems throughout the western US. In Arizona, Robert Gearheart has led the design of an innovative wetland to treat excess nitrogen for Apache Nitrogen Products and has been actively working in the Klamath River watershed for 25 years. Robert Gearheart has spent his 40 plus year career dedicated to understanding wetland systems and sharing his unique perspective and passion with a multitude of students and practitioners. He inspires a commitment to sustainability and a scientific approach to understand our natural wetlands systems based on integrity. He has been incredibly generous with sharing his knowledge, and has inspired two generations of engineers, scientists, and decision makers to appreciate the ecological value of wetlands, and how their multitude of layered beneficial uses can provide low-cost, reliable treatment of stormwater and wastewater, wildlife habitat, and a myriad of active and passive recreational activities for communities worldwide.

Angela Waupochick – State, Tribal, and Local Program Development
Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans
Keshena, Wisconsin

Angela has been with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians for almost 9 years. She began her tenure with the Tribe as a GIS specialist, contributing to the Tribe’s first wetland functions mapping project “A Landscape-Scale Wetland Functional Assessment and Identification of Potential Wetland Restoration Sites for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community”. She became further immersed in 2011 when she was hired as a wetland specialist to manage US EPA Wetland Program Development Grant (WPDG) the tribe had been awarded. During the first project period, she completed the Tribe’s wetland program plan. The five-year plan provides a strategy for planning and implementing a sustainable wetland program, communicating the intent and need of the program to EPA, and providing valuable water resource information to the tribal leadership. 

In 2015, she became the Tribe’s hydrologist, adding the management of the Tribe’s Clean Water Act Section 106 program to her duties. In 2016, she completed all the necessary planning and drafting of documents, establishing the Tribe’s Nonpoint Source 319 program, while continuing to oversee the wetland program. She is a driving force behind the implementation of stream and wetland restoration activities on the reservation. 

Angela developed project plans, secured funding and effectively managed 3 recent projects on tribal lands which supported restoration of both wetlands and streams. 

The Miller Creek project involved removal of abandoned rail bed sections and culvert installation that effectively restored hydrologic connectivity to the stream and adjacent wetlands, returned Miller Creek to its original channel, recreated stable habitat for native species and restored wetland functions to adjacent wetlands. The restoration positively impacted a mile of stream and its adjacent wetlands within 7 mile, 52-acre parcel. 

The Cemetery Scrape project focused on improvement of wetland function, increased wetland acreage and diversity and manage undesirable species. This site was identified as a potential restoration site through the GIS landscape level functional assessment created previously. Angela and program staff re-assessed the area to confirm hydric soils, historical wetland boundary, species composition and functional assessment. The work included grading of the site, removal of invasive species and planting of tamarack seedlings, all of which were collected from the reservation to keep costs low. The project restored approximately 5 acres of wetland. Most recently, another project underway, located near the tribe’s golf course, is focused at restoring a 4-acre site, impacted from development. 

During her tenure, Angela has applied for and successfully received four WPDG’s: Development of Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program for SMC (2013), Advancing SMC Wetland Program through Research, Training and Watershed Planning (2015), Improving Outreach and Program Capacity for the SMC (2016), and Establishing and Implementing a Long-term Monitoring Network to document the hydrology of tribal wetlands pre- and post- Emerald Ash Borer invasion (2018). While also securing several project funding proposals from other agencies. 

Angela most recently orchestrated the creation of a web-based story map. The story map showcases successful water-related projects across the reservation and highlights the history of the tribe and their connection to water resources (https://www.stockbridge-munsee-water-resources-program.org/). Angela partnered with St. Mary’s University of Minnesota GeoSpatial Services on this project to create one of the first tribal water resources story map nationally. 

The story map has facilitated communication of all Tribal water resources program goals, informed Tribal members and the public about the importance of wetlands and overall watershed health, facilitated the initiation of partnerships and combined efforts with landowners and local agencies to improve water quality, and allowed for the summation of water quality and wetland data. It has proven to be an extremely effective education and outreach tool. 

Angela has presented her work at US EPA Region 5 State and Tribal Wetland Program meetings and participated in a wide range of national webinars, eager to share the story map as well as gather feedback from other states and tribes on ways to enhance this successful tool. As such, Angela's work on the story map has prompted interest from numerous state's and tribes nationally. She has laid the groundwork for other tribes to enhance education and outreach of wetland resources and projects on tribal lands.

Angela is deserving of recognition because she has worked hard to accomplish an incredible amount of work in a relatively short period of time; including development of new programs for the Tribe, planning and managing restoration projects and continually sharing her work at regional and national meetings. Angela has tirelessly devoted her time to securing funding and advancing the Tribe’s wetland program she initiated in 2011.

Her work and vision on the story map has set an example to other tribal programs in the Region, and nationally, about creative and effective ways of providing education and outreach to Tribal members, the public, and state and federal environmental agencies.

 

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To read more out about past NWA Winners, click here.