Neil Johnston
Project CATE Foundation (Conservation Action Through Education) Foundation
Mobile, Alabama

After many years of environmental and conservation activism in his private and professional life, Neil Johnston has derived his formula for environmental change and stands by it: “Educate, educate, educate.” Mr. Johnston, fisherman, hunter, conservationist, and devoted father of two, contends that the key to education depends on having a simple message framed in an understandable way and delivered by someone the public trusts. It is this “can do” attitude that marks the many successful environmental programs led by Mr. Johnston along the northern Gulf Coast.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, and a partner in the law firm Hand, Arendall, L.L.C., Mr. Johnston is chair of the firm’s Environmental and Land Use Section. Despite his workload and his devotion to his family, he somehow finds the time to be active in several local civic groups and boards. Most dear to his heart is the Project CATE (Conservation Action Through Education) Foundation, an organization dedicated to the balanced environmental education of children. Formed by Mr. Johnston in 1990, Project CATE develops interactive classroom materials that highlight conservation of Alabama’s plant and animal species. The foundation’s first educational CD, Ribbit’s Big Splash, was introduced in 2000 and focuses on water conservation and habitats. The CD has won many state and national educational awards. Project CATE also co-sponsors the Coastal Kids Quiz, an environmental competition that utilizes the CD as a basis for its questions. The competition’s other sponsor is the Alabama Coastal Foundation, an organization that Mr. Johnston was instrumental in re-establishing and now serves as its president.

In an era where free time is fleeting, Mr. Johnston untiringly leads the charge in the search for solutions to the environmental issues facing his state and hometown.

— Tom Hutchings, Alabama Coastal Foundation, Montrose, Alabama