It is Elfriede Sack’s first National Award and recognition since 29 years ago when she started working for SA National Parks (SANParks). It is by sheer coincidence that she stays in George in the Garden Route, a few kilometres from the home of the new reigning Miss Universe, Demi Leigh Nel Peters, who just made history as the first Miss South Africa to win the Miss Universe pageant after 39 years.
Sack says it is not about the number of years she had waited to win a Kudu Award, now dubbed ‘the Oscars of the conservation sector.’ It is the highest honour for anyone who works in conservation to win such an Award especially as an employee of SANParks. The medals are handed over by the Executive of SANParks in the presence of dignitaries, business representatives and stakeholders from various sectors.
She is the only winner from the Garden Route National Park which makes the award so iconic. The GRNP is now part of the ‘Frontier cluster’ combined with the Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo, the Karoo and Mountain Zebra.
Speaking about Sack, Area Manager of Wilderness and her supervisor, Sandra Taljaard, said ‘she is unbelievably dedicated to achieving the goals of SANParks for the Wilderness section.’ Taljaard also said Sack’s work as the Wilderness section’s Financial Officer is of such high quality that she contributes largely to controlling the overall budget and its assets.
Speaking at a glitzy function held at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria, sponsored by FNB and TotalSA, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks Mr Fundisile Mketeni said the Kudu Awards ‘honour people for their meaningful contribution to the protection of the environment through various means which reflect society’s admirable social responsibility- giving meaning to the SANParks vision of ‘a Sustainable National Parks Systems Connecting Society.’
Park Manager of the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon has congratulated Sack. He also confirmed the Park’s ongoing investment in all its employees through various training and wellness programmes to help motivate them and see their value to the organisation. ‘Getting a Kudu Award is a step above a Regional Award and sends the message that our own staff is highly valued and yes should want to work harder at achieving organisational objectives.’
Well done Elfrieda for flying the GRNP/ SANParks flag sky high!
Last year’s winner was marine ecologist, Kyle Smith for his excellent performance in the workplace and going the extra mile in all his multiple projects. The year before, Victor Cunningham, ex ranger for Tsitsikamma won a Kudu Award for his excellent skills in trail building and maintenance and placing the Park on the map with its multiple green flag status certification.
Leadership scholars recommend awards and recognition programs as at least one form of engaging, rewarding and acknowledging staff efforts.