William Thomas

New Jersey School of Conservation Director William Thomas joined an elite group of scientists and explorers when he received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club of New York City last fall.

‌With this award, Thomas joins the ranks of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, explorer Sir Edmund Hillary and popular astrophysicist Carl Sagan. The award was named for the American writer, traveler and radio broadcaster who brought the world the story of T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame.

“The Lowell Thomas Award is especially gratifying because the exploits of members of the Explorer’s Club are the stuff of legends,” Thomas says. “After years of working in obscurity, to be mentioned in the same breath as Edmund Hillary or Buzz Aldrin is both humbling and exciting.”

The 2012 Lowell Thomas Awards specifically celebrated explorers who “exhibited an extraordinary capacity to transcend traditional comfort zones to undertake expeditions that benefit us all.”

Thomas’ honor came after 25 years of working with the Hewa people, an isolated population of 2,000 in a largely unexplored region of Papua New Guinea, where he is helping them preserve their knowledge of the land while combining it with western science to preserve the region and its environment.

“A Lowell Thomas Award means that a jury of the world’s finest explorers has voted me to their all-star team,” Thomas says. “Hopefully my life and work will serve as testament that I am worthy of such an honor.”