The Queensland Natural History Award is presented annually by the Queensland Naturalists Club Inc. to give recognition to persons who have made outstanding contributions to natural history in Queensland.
The Queensland Natural History Award for 2011 was presented to Mrs. Helen Horton.
Helen’s interests in natural history started through bushwalking in New South Wales and Victoria and developed further after 1961. When with herhusbnd Bill and family, she moved to Mt Isa. In 1974 the family moved to Brisbane and Helen and Bill joined the Queensland Naturalists Club and over the years they made significant contributions to this club.
Besides natural history Helen is well known in Queensland literary circles; so much so that in 2002 she was awarded an OAM for her contributions to these fields of interest.
Helen has served the Club in many ways; She has been President in 1988 and 1999; Excursion Secretary from 1976 to 1978; during which she organized a very successful bus excursion to south-west Queensland in 1978. The Club is especially grateful for the editing and distributing of the “QNC News” for 28 ½ years from 1980 to 2009. This work involved the compiling, typing and distribution of this important newsletter to approximately 400 recipients, six times per year. Helen also saw the need for indices for the newsletter and “The Queensland Naturalist” so set about this task for the newsletters from 1957 and for the latter publication, all issues from 1906 to 2008. Helen has been a member of the Council, in some capacity, for 30 ½ years. In 1995 she was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Club.
Services to the Clubs administration are only part of Helens involvement. Most members will know her as a quiet, polite but willing provider of knowledge or assistance. Some will know her through her many written projects including several books; starting in 1976 with “Around Mt Isa”; and more recently the organizing of “A Brisbane Bushland”. Helens easy to read writings have also resulted in 19 papers in “The Queensland Naturalist” over 60 nature notes in the “QNC News”, and seven guides to plants in the Clubs quick identification series (QUIDS).
Helen has also presented excellent talks at meetings including the C.T. White Lecture for 2010. A keen interest in birds resulted, over the years, in the collecting of 273 species of bird calls which are now available to all on CDs. Since 1983 when these field recordings were started many members of the public were introduced to birds by hearing Helens recordings being broadcast on the ABCs morning programmes. The public have also benefitted from Helens knowledge of plants and bird whilst on the many bird walks she conducted in Brisbane Forest Park. Over the years Helen has also contributed to other organizations including the Moreton Island Protection Committee, Society for Growing Australian Plants, Queensland Ornithological Society (Birds Queensland) and with her husband, Bill, the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme.
Helen Has a quiet and modest personality but this belies the enormous contribution that she has made to natural history in Queensland. Her broad knowledge of natural history has been shared with naturalists and the public through her publications in the form of books, scientific articles, tapes and CDs.
Receipt of this award is a fitting recognition of Helen Horton’s contribution to the Queensland Naturalist Club and to the promotion of natural history in Queensland.
Photo: Helen Horton receives the Queensland Natural History Award for 2009 from the QNC Past President, Barry Jahnke.