Rene Savenye Award

Rene Savenye

The BCPA's Rene Savenye Award was established in 2003 to periodically honour an amateur paleontologist who has demonstrated outstanding service to the science of paleontology or to paleontological education in British Columbia. The award was created in memory of the late Rene Savenye, noted British Columbia naturalist and amateur paleontologist. During his career as a fossil hunter extraordinaire, Rene visited a large number of fossil localities across British Columbia and selflessly contributed many of his significant fossil finds to scientific publications. As a member of the Vancouver Paleontological Society, Rene was a constant field trip leader to fossil sites, as well as a master lecturer who presented the results of his investigations to the paleontological societies at numerous, always well-attended presentations. Rene was very active in bringing the wonders of fossils to other organizations as well, and he spent much time in giving talks to naturalists clubs and school groups across British Columbia and Alberta.

Pat Trask 2014

In 1992, Pat moved to the Comox Valley of Vancouver Island to help promote his twin brother, Mike Trask's, discovery of the Puntledge elasmosaur. Shortly thereafter (1993), Pat began a career as a programme interpreter with the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Center. In 1994, he received training in casting and preparation in Drumheller, Alberta and mentoring from the Royal Tyrrell Museum staff on science programming and interpretation. Utilizing that training, he has since assisted with, and led, several significant fossil excavations and is co-author of several scientific publications.

In the last twenty years at the Courtenay Museum, Pat has hosted over 50,000 visitors from around the world on fossil exploration tours to Comox Valley rivers and waterways. As well, he has presented numerous lectures on fossils, paleontology, geology, and general science at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Vancouver Museum, Tumbler Ridge Museum, North Island College, Elderhostel, remote communities on north and central Vancouver Island, as well as at numerous BC Provincial Parks. He was selected by BC Ferries to provide shipboard lectures on the paleontology of British Columbia on the North Coast ferry run. He has appeared in educational videos promoting the science of paleontology and a sustainable Earth. Pat is also a founding member of the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society and an Executive member of the British Columbia Paleontological Alliance. He has also been nominated for a Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce Professional Development Award.

Pat presently holds the position of Curator of Natural History at the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Center. He continues his lifelong interest in natural history on a daily basis and encourages people of all ages and walks of life to explore the past, present, and future natural world around them. Although lacking formal professional certification, Pat has nonetheless demonstrated a totally professional ability to inspire and educate many thousands of individuals about the science of paleontology, particularly our youth. For these reasons, he is fully deserving of the BC Paleontological Alliance's Rene Savenye Award.

Pat Trask

Past Recipients

Charles Helm 2011

The BCPA's Rene Savenye Award for outstanding contributions by an amateur to the science of paleontology or to paleontological education in British Columbia was presented to Dr. Charles Helm of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) at the 9th British Columbia Paleontological Symposium, May 20-23, 2011, in Tumbler Ridge.

Charles was instrumental in the formation of TRMF in 2002 following the discovery of dinosaur tracks on Flatbed Creek two years earlier by his son Daniel and his friend Mark Turner. Charles has been a tireless organizer and fund-raiser for TRMF leading to the establishment of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre. Charles has been a driving force in the exploration of the region's paleontological resources. He is an enthusiastic field worker, collecting fossils for the research centre always with detailed field reports, and has made a number of important discoveries.

These paleontological accomplishments have occurred while Charles, at the same time, has served as Tumbler Ridge's primary and sometimes sole physician. In addition, Charles has authored several local hiking guides (including fossil sites), and written a children's book (Daniel's Dinosaurs) on the discovery of the Tumbler Ridge dinosaur tracks. The proceeds of these books have been generously donated to the museum and other community projects. He has also contributed a number of articles to the BCPA Newsletter.

Charles Helm

Graham Beard 2005

Graham Beard

At the 2005 British Columbia Paleontological Symposium held in Prince George in August, the first Rene Savenye Award for Significant Contributions to British Columbia Paleontology by an Amateur was presented to Graham Beard, in recognition of his life-long passion for fossils and the many wonderful contributions that he has made to British Columbia paleontology.

Many persons know Graham as one of the authors of the very highly regarded book West Coast Fossils. In fact, Graham has collected many thousands of fossils from around British Columbia in his 40 years of collecting, making all of these available to the scientific community for study and description. In addition, he has given hundred of lectures about the paleontological wonders of our province to fossil clubs, naturalist societies, and school groups across British Columbia. Graham was also instrumental as an early organizer in helping establish the amateur paleontology network in British Columbia, which eventually became the BC Paleontological Alliance.

Through his dedicated and selfless contributions to paleontology, Graham exemplifies the spirit and honour of Rene Savenye in every way. Congratulations on behalf of the BCPA to Graham Beard!