Mississippi State associate extension professor Debbie Gaddis and university senior Amber D. Breland of Maben are receiving top awards of the state's oldest conservation organization.
Gaddis, a timber taxation specialist, is the Mississippi Wildlife Federation's Forest Conservationist of the Year. Breland, a senior wildlife science major, is its Youth Conservationist of the Year.
The awards were given recently at a Jackson banquet sponsored by the non-profit group formed in 1946 to help conserve the state's natural resources and protect its wildlife legacy.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gaddis participated in nearly 30 tax workshops on casualty losses. Her work has been praised by a U.S. Forest Service tax specialist as "the most up-to-date tax information on casualty losses and involuntary conversion available anywhere."
A Pearl native, Gaddis holds a bachelor's degree in forestry from MSU, a master's of business administration from Millsaps College and a doctorate in forestry from North Carolina State University. Before joining the Starkville faculty in 1999, she worked as an industrial forester for International Paper Co. Her father, Billy T. Gaddis of Madison, also received the award in the late 1970s while serving as state forester.
Gaddis is active on various boards and committees of the Mississippi Forestry Association, Mississippi Forestry Commission, Mississippi Association of County Agricultural Agents, and Forest Landowners Tax Council.
Breland, a Starkville High School graduate and MSU President's Scholar, is a regular volunteer at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, where she assists in inspecting and maintaining wildlife nesting boxes, capturing rare wood storks, and identifying wildlife food and cover plants, among other duties.
She is the daughter of Robert and Vicki Breland.