The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) recognized four individuals, three state agencies and one private landowner for their dedication to advancing fish and wildlife conservation at the Association's Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
SETH GORDON AWARD
Dan Forster received the AFWA’s top honor, the Seth Gordon Award for lifetime achievement in conserving North America’s natural resources in the public trust and contributing to the programs of the Association.
Dan’s name is iconic with the Association due to his number of leadership roles, his level of impact, and help in uniting 50 states. As President of the Association (2013-2014), Chair and Vice President of the Association’s Executive Committee (2012-2013), and President of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA, 2008-2009), Dan was repeatedly entrusted to represent the collective voice of his fellow Directors of state fish and wildlife agencies and help guide the Association to affect positive change for the states and their natural resources.
While Dan is a leader in conservation efforts across the continent, back in his home state of Georgia, where he graduated from the University of Georgia with a Master’s in Wildlife Biology, Dan started his career with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) on the Georgia coast in 1990. He has now served our state for three decades. More than one of those decades was spent serving as Director of WRD. WRD is responsible for fishing opportunities for more than 1 million anglers, hunting opportunities for more than 600,000 hunters on more than 1 million acres of public land, and management of 111 Wildlife Management Areas, 10 Public Fishing Areas, 10 fish hatcheries, 148 boat ramps, 17 shooting ranges, 16 archery ranges, and 7 Regional Education Centers.
“This is the greatest professional honor that I could ever receive, and I am truly humble,” stated Dan Forster.
ERNEST THOMPSON SETON AWARD
The Missouri Stream Team Program received AFWA’s Ernest Thompson Seton Award for leadership in promoting scientific wildlife management and is a great example of how Missourians value conservation of fish, forests, and wildlife, and how the Conservation Department, DNR, and Conservation Federation of Missouri work with citizens to conserve our natural resources.
The Missouri Stream Team Program is a citizen-led effort to conserve Missouri streams. Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), the Stream Team Program focuses on education, stewardship, and advocacy for Missouri stream resources. The Program provides supplies and technical assistance to meet the needs of Stream Teams and their diverse individual goals, and also recognizes Team accomplishments through social media, newsletters, certificates, and awards. Missouri Stream Team is a national leader in volunteer stream stewardship efforts thanks to the creativity and determination of its members and strong agency support.
In the last 25 years, the Missouri Stream Team Program has grown to over 5,000 active Stream Teams consisting of an estimated 90,000 volunteers working to conserve Missouri’s rivers and streams. Since 1989, Stream Teams have been an impassioned voice for the protection of streams that Missourians rely on for clean drinking water, quality fishing, and first-class recreational opportunities. The Program merits recognition for its achievement in engaging citizens to act on behalf of Missouri streams.
“I believe the success of the Program is due to the passion and dedication of Missouri citizens combined with providing them the resources to get involved at the level they desire,” said Sherry Fischer, Stream Services Program Supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We provide guidance but allow them to develop their ‘Team’ into what they envision. The collaborative nature of this partnership creates a supportive family atmosphere which facilitates and grows volunteer involvement over time.”
MARK REEFF MEMORIAL AWARD
Davia Palmeri, the Climate Change Coordinator with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, received the Mark Reeff Memorial Award for outstanding young wildlife management professional under 35. AFWA recognized Palmeri for her persistent, professional, and produces results for a challenging portfolio.
“I am overwhelmed,” stated Davia Palmeri. I am honored to work with people in the state agencies and get to do this work on a national scale at such a young age.”
PRIVATE LANDS FISH AND WILDLIFE STEWARDSHIP AWARD
This year’s recipient of AFWA’s Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award—Paul Tudor Jones, owner of the Blue Valley Ranch— a conservation ranch that runs cattle and bison and prioritizes wildlife.
The vision of Blue Valley Ranch is to cultivate a natural landscape of healthy, resilient ecosystems that support a diversity of wildlife. The ranch is a model of resource integration for conservation, land stewardship, agricultural production and guest services.
Mr. Jones and the staff of Blue Valley Ranch have been tremendous partners for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Together, Blue Valley and CPW have introduced several wildlife species on the ranch, all with great success. Both entities were also key players in initiating and helping to secure funding for the CO State Hwy 9 Safety Project, which began construction last year. The project features 7 wildlife crossings, including 2 overpasses, and was the direct result of a grassroots-level effort to build a private-public partnership to fund and design the project.
Sher Steuben, the ranch’s general manager, commented on receiving the award that “Blue Valley Ranch is honored to have been selected for this recognition, and our thanks go to the AFWA. Our accomplishments come from a visionary landowner, a dedicated staff, and establishing trusting relationships with local agencies. We plan to continue this tradition of cooperation and excellence in conservation for many years to come.”
CONSERVATION LAW ENFORCEMENT AWARD
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources- Law Enforcement Public Relations was selected as the 2016 Conservation Law Enforcement Award recipient for providing outreach efforts that serve to educate the public about the job that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division performs as well as improve overall public relations.
The SC Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division has worked very hard in recent years to improve public relations. In today’s landscape that has become somewhat detached from the outdoors, it is more important than ever to educate the public about the importance of wildlife conservation as well as cultivate support for outdoor activities that include hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Words like recruitment, retention, and reactivation have become the cornerstone of agency efforts to remain relevant in today’s society. Because of this, the SCDNR Law Enforcement Division has developed groundbreaking outreach programs to reach the people of South Carolina.
“Our public relations team serves to education the public about the job that the Law Enforcement Division performs as well as improve overall public relations,” said Colonel Chisolm Frampton, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. “Their ability to think outside the box with innovative ideas like our 100 Deadliest Days of Summer PSA, minority outreach programs, interactive video simulation trailers and community fishing rodeos have proven to be very successful in today’s difficult landscape.”.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDS
Finally, the Association presented two special recognition awards for outstanding commitment to the work of AFWA to Roy Grimes and the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance.
Over the last fifteen years, Mr. Roy Grimes has led the efforts of the National Archery in the Schools Program, or NASP®. Roy, who had served Fish & Wildlife Agencies in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and finally Kentucky was asked by KY Commissioner Tom Bennett to develop what would later be called “NASP®.” NASP®, an international-style target archery program, was designed to achieve specific and targeted educational and conservation related goals.
“Having spent 30 years as a state wildlife agency biologist, I consider members of AFWA, my peers,” said Roy Grimes, President of NASP. “It is a terrific honor to have the National Archery in the Schools Program® recognized by AFWA professionals for its efforts to establish millions of student archers every year.”
The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
is a network of 40 state and federal agencies, public botanical gardens, universities, utility companies and conservation organizations committed to preserving the state’s rare flora. Members helped develop and revise the Georgia State Wildlife Action Plan – the guiding strategy for alliance recovery projects targeting 100 imperiled plant species – and the network has become a model for others, noted state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams.
“GPCA has proven incredibly effective in focusing and increasing efforts to conserve Georgia’s rare plant species and their habitats,” Williams said. “Not only is this work benefiting our state, other states are considering setting up alliances, meaning plant conservation in those states will reap from what the GPCA has sown in Georgia.”