Marla Ruskin AWF

Pictured with Marla Ruskin, center, are PowerSouth Energy’s Horace Horn, conservation commissioner Chris Blankenship, AWF president Grant Lynch and Alabama Power Company’s Susan Comensky.

Marla Ruskin, a communications specialist and managing editor with the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF), was recently awarded Communicator of the Year by the AWF. 

Ruskin said she gained an appreciation of the outdoors, wildlife and natural resources from her father Hobbie Summerhill, who was a landowner and forester. It’s an appreciation of nature which she said continues to drive her each day. 

Ruskin even joked she can portray a “mean turkey gobble.”

“I was brought up to love the land,” Ruskin said. “I can remember riding in the truck with (my dad) while he talked about the pine trees he just planted or the ones he needed to cut. We would hear the sounds of wildlife and try to mimic them.”

Ruskin helped tell stories of forestry through social media, advertising and the AWF magazine.

Ruskin now had the spotlight shine on her at the annual AWF Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards (CGAA) banquet last month in Prattville. The GCAA was created to promote leadership by example and increase conservation of Alabama’s natural resources.

Ruskin learned some of those qualities riding around with her father.

“I am thankful for my parents who have given me the opportunities to grow to be the person I am today,” Ruskin said, “and to those that recognize what a great job they have done.”

Over the past 45 years, the Alabama Wildlife Federation has presented awards to individuals and organizations that make great contributions to the conservation of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources.

Ruskin, who started with AWF seven years ago, was presented with the Communicator of the Year Award. For those wondering, yes, she wrote her own press release.

Ruskin said she strives to make an impact on young people and adults, utilizing all media outlets to educate readers, listeners and participants on conservation issues and initiatives.

“I am a creative person, unique indeed, and most people probably say God broke the mold as quickly as He could,” Ruskin said. “I love the fact that my job involves sharing His creations with those around me. Although I’m not in the outdoors every day, I have the pleasure of sharing our outdoors with others, to encourage them to come out and experience nature first-hand, in all aspects of marketing and communication.”

The Alabama Wildlife Federation was established by sportsmen in 1935 and is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization.

The mission of AWF is to promote conservation and wise use of Alabama’s wildlife and related national resources as a basis for economic and social prosperity.

AWF noted Ruskin’s greatest strength as being able to let each means of marketing draw someone in to tell its own story of conservation.

Ruskin said her goal is to influence people to be good stewards, to visit AWF’s facilities and hear from experts, to take opportunities and enjoy nature with family and to learn the value of the outdoors.

Her work is far from over.

“Sharing that love for the land comes easy to me,” Ruskin said. “Our family would hunt and fish and spend a great deal of time outdoors. They were special times and times that I didn’t even know I was learning the importance of our natural resources. Now that I’m older, I can truly appreciate those moments and life lessons more than I ever did.”

To learn more about AWF, contact Alabama Wildlife Federation at 1-800-822-WILD or visit