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INDIANAPOLIS --- Jana Johnson, M.S., Ph.D., is one of 29 animal conservationists nominated to receive the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. Johnson, a native of Austin, Texas, has been nominated for her dedication to endangered butterfly propagation and research. Johnson is the founder of The Butterfly Project, a cooperative effort between Moorpark College and The Urban Wildlands Group, which serves as an I.C.U. for endangered butterflies. Over the past three years, Johnson and her students have helped the Palos Verdes blue butterfly population, once presumed extinct, grow from 200 to 10,000. Johnson and her students have released thousands of Palos Verdes blue butterflies and hundreds of Lange's Metalmark butterflies back into the wild.

The Indianapolis Prize nominees' work spans the globe, representing a range of species from insects to mammals, and includes amphibians, elephants, bats, wolves and sharks, among many others. The Nominating Committee will review the applications and select the six finalists, who will be announced in the spring of 2010. The Prize Jury will then determine the winner who will be announced in mid-2010 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala, to be held Sept.25, 2010, in Indianapolis.

In addition to receiving the $100,000 Prize, the recipient is also awarded the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner's contributions to conserving some of the world's most threatened animals. The 2008 Indianapolis Prize was awarded to legendary field biologist George Schaller, Ph.D. Schaller's accomplishments span decades and continents, bringing fresh focus to the plight of several endangered species - from tigers in India to gorillas in Rwanda - and inspiring others to join the crusade.

"Following in Schaller's footsteps will not be easy, but we believe the current nominees are exceptional," said Michael Crowther, CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, the organization responsible for initiating the conservation award. "These conservationists are all living an adventure that battles the odds, achieves great victories and builds a future worth living in."

The biennial $100,000 Indianapolis Prize represents the largest individual monetary award for animal conservation in the world and is given as an unrestricted gift to the chosen honoree. The Indianapolis Prize was initiated by the Indianapolis Zoo More Info