Conservation Award

The Delaware Audubon Conservation Award
1985 - Lynne Frink


For more than a quarter century, Lynne Frink served as a catalyst for change in the way people perceive and act toward the environment and wildlife. Born in Bethlehem, PA in 1946, Frink moved to Texas in 1970, where she taught English at Lamar University. While living in Texas, she was active in efforts to halt poisoning of coyotes on publicly owned lands. She went on to work to save the Big Thicket National Preserve and have Sydney Island set aside as an Audubon Sanctuary for Roseate Spoonbills. By the time Frink and her husband returned to Delaware in 1975, they had been transformed into environmental activists and dedicated birders. In 1976, she was instrumental in the foundation of the Delaware Audubon Society and served as its president.

In 1976, following the last of a series of five oil spills on the Delaware River, Lynne organized a multi-disciplinary group of concerned citizens, state and federal officials, veterinarians, biologists and researchers to explore the effects of oil spills on birds and to develop research and treatment procedures. Lynne vowed after those spills, "There never will be such a haphazard response to a spill again." She worked closely with federal and state government officers, industry representatives, scientists and local citizens to create a coordinated contingency plan for addressing oil spills in the Delaware River that still is a model of efficiency and cooperation.

Simultaneously, Lynne founded Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc., with the mission to study and promote healthy populations of native wildlife through the Wildlife Clinic, oil spill response and training, as well as research and education of colleagues and the public. Today, Tri-State Bird Rescue operates a federally licensed, non-profit professional avian rehabilitation clinic, open 365 days a year, which cares for more than 3500 injured, sick and orphaned native North American birds a year and also staffs a professional 24-hour oil spill response management team. Thanks to her years of guidance, Tri-State has gained an international reputation for leadership in oil spill management and training.

Lynne first cared for injured wildlife in 1973, when she received orphaned purple martin nestlings in need of care. She pursued appropriate training and obtained the necessary state and federal permits for wildlife rehabilitation. "I realized, very early on, that injured and orphaned animals needed a true multi-disciplinary approach to care," she commented in 1992 at the dedication of Tri-State's Wildlife Center. "In addition to veterinary care, these wild animals needed special housing, special foods and they needed high quality care if they were ever going to heal well enough to survive in the wild."

Lynne poured her passion and commitment into everything she did, from teaching Shakespeare to college students in Texas to teaching principles of wildlife rehabilitation to government representatives in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1968 with a B.A. in English literature. She held an M.A. in English literature and history from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She also took post-graduate studies at St. Peter's College of Oxford University, England. Lynne served on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Audubon Society, Delaware Nature Society, and the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. She co-authored the chapter on "Rehabilitation of Oil-Contaminated Birds" in the veterinary textbook Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy IX (1986), in addition to authoring over two dozen popular press and scientific articles on rehabilitation of oiled wildlife. She was also a member of the Cross-Country Garden Club.

Lynne's leadership, scholarship and service to her life's cause earned her world-wide recognition and helped to establish treatment protocols and focus international, national and local attention on the effects of man-made crises on wildlife.

Lynne Frink died after a five-month battle with cancer on January 28, 1998.