LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Saturday evening, the Nevada Conservation League hosted their 7th Annual Home Means Nevada Awards Dinner to celebrate legislative progress for our environment and award the Harry Reid Lifetime Achievement Award, Green Guardian Award, and Green Business of the Year Award.
With flourishing local clean energy opportunities, Nevada has been a leader in securing major climate investments. To celebrate the state’s environmental progress, the evening was kicked off by this year’s keynote speaker, Senator Jacky Rosen and other conservation leaders taking the stage to welcome guests.
“The push for a clean energy future presents a unique opportunity for us here in Nevada. We can be the national leader in creating a clean energy future in sustainability, in resiliency, and in creating thousands of jobs along the way,” said Senator Jacky Rosen. “Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re investing $370 billion in climate action across the country, to fight the climate crisis and push our country towards a clean energy future.”
The Nevada Conservation League recognized exceptional community leaders who have worked to better protect our climate, air, water, land, and health. This year, the organization awarded the following community leaders who share a vision for a better climate future:
Harry Reid Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Alan O’Neill
This award honors individuals dedicated to the protection and improvement of our state’s natural resources & outdoor spaces, investments in clean & renewable energy economy and jobs, and the overall protection of Nevada’s environment. Alan O’Neill brings over 50 years of experience managing and advocating for public lands. O’Neill worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior for 34 years, much of it with the National Park Service serving as Superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area from August 1987 until September 2000. He spent the next 10 years serving as the founder and Executive Director of the Outside Las Vegas Foundation, now called Get Outdoors Nevada. He is now a volunteer focusing on eco-tourism, public lands, and trails.
“I am truly honored to receive this award, which goes far beyond me as an individual; it’s a tribute to the collective dedication of all those who share a deep and abiding love for Nevada’s natural beauty. Throughout my career, I have been privileged to work alongside remarkable individuals who, like me, have committed their lives to the protection and improvement of our state’s natural resources and outdoor spaces,” said O’Neill. “Our collective efforts must continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing challenges facing our environment. Climate change, conservation, and sustainable development remain pressing concerns that demand our unwavering commitment. In the spirit of this award and in honor of all those who’ve dedicated themselves to making Nevada a better place, let us recommit ourselves to the mission of ensuring a sustainable future for our environment.”
Green Guardian Award presented to Ashley Hemmers
This award celebrates the work and achievements of an organization or individual dedicated to protecting our environment through research, projects, everyday work tasks, volunteerism, funding, or programming. Ashley Hemmers currently serves as the Tribal Administrator for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and is a nation-building strategist and 30×30 tribal inclusion advocate. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her focus is to create dialogue with tribal nations, federal and state partners, and amplify Indigenous voices in business, policy implementation, and climate action.
“Thank you to the Nevada Conservation League and Education Fund for doing the work. Holding space for Indigenous voices in conservation can be hard to approach because the land is intrinsically linked to its people,” said Hemmers. “When I look at Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Southern Nevada, I’m reminded of my connection to my land and my people. I’m inspired when I see NCL introduce connection to the land to Nevadans, it gives me hope that we can protect it together.”
Green Business of the Year Award presented to Gear Hut
Through the fostering of healthy and lasting environments, the award is given to a business that continually goes above and beyond the current dictated environmental conservation standards and often influences other companies to do the same. Gear Hut was established in 2018 to fill a void: to bring a used gear and consignment store to the Reno Tahoe area. Their mission is to increase access while keeping usable gear and apparel out of the landfill. Through their mission, folks are able to get geared up with pieces designed with the environment and longevity in mind.
“For Gear Hut, it’s not about making the sale. It’s about diverting waste and shaking up a broken consumerism-based industry that values profit over the end-of-life product journey,” said Gear Hut business owner, Leah Wzientek. “Our positive environmental impact is only possible due to the strong outdoor community in Reno. Our consignment business model is a two-way street. You need a customer base to supply your inventory. Thanks to Reno’s welcoming arms, commitment to a local circular economy and shopping used first, we just celebrated our five-year anniversary.”
Attendees also got a first look at the Nevada Conservation League’s biennial Conservation Scorecard. The scores grade Governor Lombardo and state lawmakers on key environmental bills regarding climate change, energy, public lands, wildlife, water, and environmental justice during the 82nd legislative session. More information about scores can be found here.
Spokespeople are available for interviews.