Defenders of Wildlife to honor director of National Butterfly Center

The Border Wall

'Spirit' award recognizes fight against border wall in South Texas

MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — Defenders of Wildlife will honor the outspoken executive director of the National Butterfly Center who has been openly vocal in her opposition to a border wall traversing her facility in Mission, Texas.

Marianna Treviño Wright will be honored with the Spirit of Defenders Award for Conservation Advocacy at the organization’s 2019 Wildlife Conservation Awards Dinner on Sept. 26, in Washington, D.C., according to the organization’s website.

“The Wildlife Conservation Awards Dinner celebrates and honors individuals with a lasting and exceptional commitment to wildlife conservation,” according to the organization’s website. Wright is being honored “for her advocacy on behalf of wildlife in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and along our southern border.”

In a video promoting the gala event, Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said of Wright: “Marianna Treviño Wright is being honored with the Spirit of Defenders Award for Conservation Advocacy for her relentless fight against the border wall’s devastation impact on the National Butterfly Center and all other wildlife on the border.”

Marianna Treviño Wright is executive director of the National Butterfly Center. (Border Report file photo/Sandra Sanchez).

Wright and three other honorees, including U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., are “conservation heroes who are defending wildlife every day,” Clark says in the video.

Wright has never shied away from publicly criticizing the Trump administration’s plans to erect a border wall through the back half acreage of her facility, which backs to the Rio Grande.

In appropriating funds for the border wall, Congress has granted the National Butterfly Center an exemption, but Wright has told Border Report that the community must remain vigilant in its opposition to any border wall because she fears at any time that exemption could be walked back. She fears President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration imperils the exemption.

The National Butterfly Center hosted a Reclaim the River event on Aug. 17, on its banks of the Rio Grande. (Border Report file photo/Sandra Sanchez).

On Aug. 17, Wright’s organization hosted a Reclaim the River II event, along with the No Border Wall coalition, on its banks of the Rio Grande to highlight the majesty and beauty of the river. They offered boat rides, free yoga classes and educational environmental information. They also offered postcards for participants to sign that would be sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers telling them they oppose any form of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley.

In a statement to Border Report on Tuesday, Wright wrote: “I am honored to be chosen for this award, although I do not deserve it. The No Border Wall Coalition, the National Butterfly Center members across the country and every person who has shown up to protest, written a postcard, or called their members of Congress to stop this atrocity should be recognized for their contributions, instead. We, the people, who care about the health of our communities and the natural inheritance of our children, we are all in this together! I will gladly accept the Spirit of Defenders Award for Conservation Advocacy on behalf of everyone who has stood before me and beside me, because without all of them my work would amount to nothing.”

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at

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