NOAA 03-R253
Contact: Greg Hernandez
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the Department of Commerce, selected H. Don McFarland of San Antonio as one of this year’s NOAA Environmental Hero Award recipients. The award recognizes McFarland for his outstanding efforts in support of the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Austin/San Antonio Forecast Office.

Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their "tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment."

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D. , undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

A strong supporter of the NOAA National Weather Service for nearly a decade, McFarland has served as an amateur radio operator, spotter and network controller for the local SKYWARN Program. He was instrumental in securing funds for a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter, expanding SKYWARN capabilities and receiving and retransmitting warnings and forecasts through the Emergency Management Weather Information Network (EMWIN).

McFarland’s timely reports on numerous ungauged locations, during the flood events of November 2001 and July 2002, were critical in saving lives. He also improved the delivery of warnings by linking the EMWIN warnings to pagers carried by local officials. In addition, his expertise on the San Marcos River and its tributaries has proved invaluable to the Austin/San Antonio forecast office’s flood forecasting capabilities.

Before accepting his current position as Criminal Justice Manager for the Alamo Area Council of Governments, he served as a peace officer, fire marshall and emergency coordinator for Guadalupe County. Throughout his career, McFarland has demonstrated a single-minded dedication to the safety and well-being of the citizens of South Central Texas.

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present you with this 2003 Environmental Hero Award,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to the recipients. “Your dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments greatly benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans.”

There are a total of 36 winners (35 individuals and one organization). Five awards are being presented posthumously. Previous award recipients include oceanographers Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle and actor Ted Danson.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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