Common Good Awards

The Common Good Award honors those alumni who have "demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest and for the benefit of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gains in wealth or status."

Ray B. Owen, Jr. '59

Bucky Owen

"Ray B. “Bucky” Owen, Jr., distinguished member of the Class of 1959, you are among the most effective, influential, and genuinely passionate conservationists of the State of Maine’s natural environment. Bold but deeply thoughtful, you have made environmental conservation and sustainable resource management in Maine your life’s work, and your positive impact on the state’s landscape is immeasurable.

Your love for the outdoors is personal, academic, and professional. A lifelong fisherman and hunter, you have a profoundly held belief in the sanctity of Maine’s land, waterways, and wildlife, and have devoted your life to protecting these resources. A biology major at Bowdoin, you received a PhD in ecology from the University of Illinois and then returned to Maine, where you taught at the University of Maine’s flagship Orono campus for more than thirty years, chairing the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology for a decade and being elected to emeritus status upon your retirement. You taught and advocated for environmental conservation “with infectious enthusiasm,” noted one of your former graduate students, who went on to become a professor of ecology.

Called upon for your insight and expertise, you willingly served in numerous impactful roles for conservation organizations at the state and national level. You chaired the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, served as trustee chair of the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy, were a fellow and member of the governing board of the Wildlife Society, and served on the board of directors of the Forest Society of Maine, among many other roles. In 1993, you were named as the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and your tenure in that position was transformational for the state.

As Commissioner, you initiated and implemented Maine’s Quality Fishing Initiative, which revolutionized the management of native trout fishing and enabled the state’s fisheries to stabilize, heal, and thrive. You also were appointed as chairman of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission and a commissioner of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, and you were a driving force behind the Penobscot River Restoration Project, in which you worked closely with the Penobscot Nation and other partners to restore more than a dozen species of migratory fish to the Penobscot River. Maine’s well-earned reputation as a premier sport fishing destination is largely due to your efforts and foresight, and in 2009 you were recognized for your impact with the prestigious national Lee Wulff Award from the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

As your former student said of you, “he loves people and the wilderness and recognizes that preservation of one requires engagement of the other.” For your lifelong dedication to, and indelible impact on Maine’s environment, we are proud to present you with the 2024 Common Good Award. We join your family, classmates, friends, colleagues, and many admirers throughout the state and across the nation in honoring you."