RALEIGH — Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recognized Duane Raver as the 2021 recipient of the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award at its business meeting Thursday. It was awarded posthumously to Raver, one of the first fisheries biologists hired at the newly formed Wildlife Commission in 1950, and former editor of the agency’s outdoor recreation magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina. The award recognizes individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife conservation.
A fisheries biologist graduate of Iowa State University, Raver moved to North Carolina after graduation to join the Wildlife Commission. He was instrumental in developing the fisheries division; however, it was his artistic talent that made him a standout and advanced his career. Raver was an illustrator and painter who had a profound influence on the conservation of wildlife through his artwork that demonstrated the beauty and character of numerous wildlife species.
In 1960, Raver was transferred to work for the agency’s magazine, where he used his art to broaden the scope of material featured in Wildlife in North Carolina. He developed a column called Nature’s Ways, which often featured species that were unfamiliar to much of the public and illustrated features of their life histories. He was also the artist for many previous Quay awards, in which he provided original artwork for the recipients that reflected their individual contributions to the conservation of nongame fauna.
The impact of Raver’s artwork on scientists, outdoor enthusiasts, students and citizens across the globe is unmeasurable. His portrayals of fishes, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles bring to life the rich ecological diversity in North Carolina from the mountains to the sea.
Raver generously shared his work with conservation and scientific organizations to help in fundraising efforts and promotion of wildlife conservation. His work exposed many people to species they would otherwise be unlikely to observe.
Raver died on Feb. 15 at his home in Garner surrounded by family. His health had been in decline for some time, but that never stopped him from pursuing his passion. His obituary reads, “Even in his years of declining health, Duane continued producing art and was working on a fish illustration on a boat paddle just four days before he passed.”
Raver was nominated in 2021 by former colleagues who were planning to present him with the award at his home earlier this month. The high spread of COVID this winter prevented them from making the visit.
“Thursday was bittersweet. We’ve been waiting for months to present Duane with this award,” said the executive director of the Wildlife Commission, Cameron Ingram. “We were able to drop off the award a few days before his passing, but it would have been really special to have expressed our appreciation and gratitude for his work and dedication to wildlife conservation in person.”
For more information on the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, visit the agency’s website.