ASU honors college faculty member awarded for conservation advocacy

Man wearing camouflage holding a gun and walking in a desert landscape with a dog.

Alex Young, associate teaching professor in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, has been named the Arizona Wildlife Federation's 2024 Citizen Advocate of the Year. Courtesy photo


Alex Young has loved hunting, fishing and hiking since his childhood in Oklahoma, where he was taught to be a responsible conservationist by his grandfather. 

His grandfather, a fan of the renowned wildlife ecologist and conservationist Aldo Leopold, would be proud then, to learn that Young, an associate teaching professor in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, has received the 2024 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award from the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF).

The AWF recognizes significant contributions individuals and organizations have made to Arizona conservation by annually presenting Aldo Leopold Conservation Awards in several categories. 

The awards are named for Leopold, who introduced the concept of the “land ethic,” which calls for an ethical and caring relationship between people and nature.

Young, who serves on the board for the Arizona chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, was named the 2024 Citizen Advocate of the Year by the AWF, primarily for his advocacy for conservation of Native ancestral lands and national monuments in Arizona. 

"I am so honored to be recognized by the Arizona Wildlife Federation for this award, especially because, in my work with them, I've come to know what an amazing community of deserving conservationists we have here in Arizona,” said Young, who is a scholar of the literature and culture of the American West. 

Young said this year he had several opportunities, largely thanks to the Arizona Wildlife Federation, to advocate for Native lands by working with the movement to establish the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument

That movement was a tribal-led effort that brought together Arizonans of all backgrounds to protect the ancestral homelands of multiple tribes near the Grand Canyon that are vital to protecting the Colorado watershed and are cherished by multiple different outdoor recreation communities, he said. 

“In my research on the cultural history of the American West, I study the complex and often painful histories that made those lands what they are today. In my work to advocate for those lands, I drew on both my experience as an outdoorsman and my knowledge as a scholar to speak to communities that often have a tough time finding common cause and that was really inspiring and fulfilling," Young said.

As part of his national monument and land conservation advocacy, Young appeared in an AWF video and authored opinion columns in the Arizona Daily Star and The Arizona Republic.

More Environment and sustainability


Gobabeb Research Center and Institute is seen in the distance in this photo of the Namib Desert

When it comes to carbon collection, quartz rocks

Editor's note: This is the first in a five-part series about ASU faculty conducting summer research abroad. Soil carbon is like a large reservoir that can keep carbon out of the atmosphere. But…

A land-based shrimp aquaculture pond in Odisha, India.

Geography PhD candidate receives prestigious grants for groundbreaking aquaculture research in India

Before coming to study at Arizona State University, Garima Jain spent 13 years working in her home country of India, as well as other parts of the Global South, researching disaster resilience and…

Brian Sherman standing in front of a building smiling

NSF-funded, ASU-led sustainability, economic development initiative taps new CEO

Some might look at the explosive growth of the desert Southwest, a region gripped by a decades-long drought and besieged by rising temperatures, as a testament to humanity’s hubris. For Brian Sherman…