Professor Brian Murphy and his wife, Martha, are this year’s recipients of the A. Willis Robertson Citizen Conservation Award. The Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society presents the award to nonprofessionals who have exercised outstanding conservation practices on their own land or who have contributed to conservation efforts in Virginia.

Over the past 15 years, the Murphys have worked to convert their 67-acre farm in Craig County into a conservation area for native species. They have done so in many ways, including fencing livestock out of streams, reducing the size of the herd, installing food-producing shrubs, converting all of their pastures to native plants, and raising bees to produce honey.

The Murphys frequently open their farm to students and community groups for tours and learning opportunities, and work to educate their community on the importance of habitat and wildlife conservation. They hope their neighbors and community members will be inspired to begin their own conservation efforts.

They have seen great improvements to their farm in light of the changes. “As soon as you put the habitat out there, the animals show up,” Brian Murphy said. “We’ve seen an enormous increase in diversity of both plants and animals. I even see species that we didn’t plant beginning to come back because they can grow here again.”