The Advisory Committee of the Euan P. McFarlane Environmental Leadership Award of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands has selected Olasee Davis, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of the Virgin Islands School of Agriculture on St. Croix, for the 2023 McFarlane Award in recognition of his important work as a dedicated and passionate environmentalist.
Recipients of the McFarlane Award, in the amount of $1,000, are recognized as individuals who have applied themselves to the preservation of the natural or built environment in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and who demonstrate an appreciation of and support for the advancement of environmental stewardship and balanced development throughout the islands.
Davis, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was born on St. Thomas and resides on St. Croix. A career environmentalist, he is described as an ecologist, ethnobotanist, agriculturalist, environmental activist, cultural historian, naturalist, scholar and professional writer.
His focus on building environmental awareness in the USVI spans several decades and includes publishing more than 3,000 articles, mentoring multiple generations of students, and serving as an advocate for protected area designations in the territory. He is fostering awareness of the Virgin Islands’ environment and history through hands-on projects, outdoor guided tours and other interactive outdoor experiences, according to the press release announcing the award.
“If you ask Virgin Islanders about environmental leadership, Olasee Davis is the first name that comes to mind,” said award nominator Celeste Jarvis, Ph.D,, Virgin Islands director of The Nature Conservancy. “Companies, universities, schools, churches and individuals globally seek out Professor Davis’ knowledge to learn about the natural, cultural and environmental history of the Virgin Islands,” she said.
Other awards bestowed on Davis include the Virgin Islands Environmentalist of the Year, the Environmental Quality Award of the Year by the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management 25th Anniversary Distinguished Service Award, and the Living Legend Professor.
Davis belongs to 21 nonprofit organizations locally, nationally and internationally, including the Virgin Islands Urban Community Forestry Council, St. Croix Environmental Association, Virgin Islands Trail Alliance, St. Croix Hiking Association, Forestry Stewardship Program, and The Nature Conservancy, among others.
Dr. Davis is the 32nd recipient of the McFarlane Award, with past honorees residing in 18 different Caribbean islands. The award was established in 1987 to recognize individuals demonstrating initiative, resourcefulness and leadership in promoting conservation and enhancement of the environment in the insular Caribbean.
Endowment funding for the award was provided by the late businessman and conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller, and the program was initially administered by Island Resources Foundation from 1987-2014. The McFarlane Leadership Award is now managed by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands as part of its program of support to youth, learning, family support and the environs.