Conservation award for South Sound campaigner

A woman who led a fight to protect South Sound from a coastal development has won the governor’s award for Conservationist of the Year. 

Katrina Jurn, who has coordinated the citizens group fighting to preserve South Sound, took the top honor at the National Trust event Wednesday night. 

Ms. Jurn is also the founder of environmental action group Sustainable Cayman, which led a public awareness campaign on the National Conservation Law in late 2013. 

Geddes Hislop, the curator of terrestrial exhibits at the Cayman Turtle Farm, was runner-up for his work at the venue, including implementing an iguana rehabilitation program there. 

Neil van Niekerk of Southern Cross dive resort in Little Cayman was also recognized for his work in fighting the lionfish invasion and organizing an island-wide culling program. 

Cody Panton, a volunteer with the Department of Environment who has worked on studies on fishing pressure, coral bleaching and the importance of marine parks, won the Lois Blumenthal Youth Conservationist award. 

Ms. Jurn said she was honored to be recognized for her efforts. “It feels wonderful to have the work that I have done, just over a short number of years, recognized. I am very aware that I am joining people that have been working for the environment tirelessly for decades,” she said. 

As an activist, much of her work for the environment has come in the form of public protest. 

“People have definitely warned me along the way that I could be viewed as a troublemaker. My response is that we have to speak up for what we believe in. 

“If we see something is wrong and destroying the environment – we have to raise our voices.” 

She said she got her first taste of environmental activism in the community protest to stop a road being built through a patch of Ironwood forest. 

But the ongoing battle to protect South Sound from canal developments has been her greatest cause. 

She said another important cause for her had been to educate the public and clear up misconceptions about the National Conservation Law. 

Katrina-Jurn

Katrina Jurn is Conservationist of the Year. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER