AFWA Honors its 2019 Annual Awards Recipients

September 25, 2019

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) recognized eight individuals, two 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 24, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Ed Carter received 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.

Ed Carter has been an extremely active advocate for fish and wildlife management, both in Tennessee and throughout the country since he began his career with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in 1972. Ed has worked at all levels of the agency, from wildlife officer to Director.

Ed’s career has been marked by his outstanding accomplishments over 47 years with the agency. Ed is a positive force in the management and conservation of fish and wildlife, their habitats, and public awareness and involvement in the outdoors.


Pete Cimellaro, from Arizona, received AFWA’s John L. Morris Award which recognizes a lifetime commitment to fish and wildlife stewardship by citizen conservationists who have exhibited exemplary leadership at the highest level and demonstrated a steadfast commitment to large scale natural resource challenges.

Pete exemplifies this award. His interest in wildlife is varied but one of the species of passion for him is wild sheep. At one time, bighorn sheep in Arizona were extirpated from almost 75% of their historical range and numbered about 1,000. In clear and purposeful partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, wild sheep roam most of the state and number more than 6,000. This took a huge amount of commitment from Pete that reaches well beyond the time he spent in leadership roles. Pete continues to be involved in on-the-ground conservation to this day.


Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Air Exposure Research and Outreach (AERO) team received AFWA’s Earnest Thompson Seton Award for leadership in scientific management. The AERO team has made substantial advancements in fish science with their work examining the effects of air exposure on trout and steelhead. Realizing this was only part of the challenge, the group initiated a massive outreach effort to communicate the science to both public and professional audiences.

The results of the research effort and the subsequent outreach to public and professional audiences has been remarkable with the research findings in Idaho have become part of the conversation in other states and regions. The work of the Air Exposure Research and Outreach team has tremendous implications for fish management and will help ensure that future fish management decisions can be informed by sound science and achieve meaningful conservation benefits.


Doug Burt and the Arizona Game & Fish Department are the recipients of this year’s Boone and Crockett Award, which honors an agency and team leader for outstanding achievement in promoting and encouraging outdoor ethics.

Mr. Burt’s unquestionable character and ethics, along with his unique ability to build trust among partners and channel efforts into decisive action, allowed the Arizona Game & Fish Department to have a great impact on the states Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) efforts.  Through Mr. Burt’s leadership, Arizona’s R3 task force quickly evolved into a highly effective statewide collaboration of NGO’s, rod and gun clubs, and youth development organizations rallying around hunter R3 long before it was called R3.


Samantha Pedder with the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports is the Mark Reeff Memorial Award recipient for the outstanding young wildlife management professional under age 35.

Ms. Pedder has shown extraordinary leadership skills and commitment to addressing the difficult challenges facing the Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) of hunters, trappers and recreational shooters.  Samantha also demonstrates a strong work ethic, critical thinking and organizational skills, a willingness to contribute to difficult problems and her compassion and connections with people and wildlife.  Her strong leadership and dedication are a true asset to the R3 community.


This year’s recipient of AFWA’s Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award is Nelson J. Roach and the Couch Mountain Ranch, for proactive conservation and environmental practices and exhibiting outstanding stewardship of fish and wildlife resources.

Mr. Roach embodies good stewardship in all aspects of managing his property, which includes one of the larger remaining intact forests in private ownership in east Texas, with representation from bottomland hardwood, upland pines, and riparian habitats.

Mr. Roach and the Couch Mountain Ranch is a true partner in wildlife conservation and an ally to outdoorsmen and women.  He had shown time and again that his passion for all wildlife and his stewardship provides benefit not only to game species, but a numerous bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish and native mussel species which are dependent on wild places such as Couch Mountain.


This year’s recipient of the Stephen Kellert Award is Crystal Egli in recognition for her hard work over the past year in promoting inclusive marketing and public information and education efforts at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Her example has led to improved representation from diverse communities not only in her work in creating agency videos, but also on social media, brochures, images, newsletters, public information press releases, and the agency’s website.

Crystal’s creativity, passion, and determination to make Colorado Parks and Wildlife an inclusive space for all, pushes the agency toward positive change each day.


This year’s recipient of the Gary Taylor Award is Anna Seidman with Safari Club International.  Ms. Seidman is recognized for her outstanding achievements in the field of public conservation policy, specifically related to state fish and wildlife agency jurisdiction over fish and wildlife management.  

Ms. Seidman recognizes that without the sound management decisions of state wildlife management agencies, the members of SCI and those of the general hunting community would be unable to participate in hunting and in the management and conservation strategies of state wildlife management authorities.  She also understands how important it is for the non-governmental community to work with state wildlife management agencies and to develop an open and candid dialog between the state agencies and hunting organizations. 


This award goes to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement Port Investigations Team.  Created in 2011, FWC’s Port Investigations Team was established as a specialized task force focusing on Florida’s major airports and seaports, commercial shipping facilities, highway agricultural inspection stations, and cold storage facilities targeting the illegal wildlife trade. Their continued hard work ensures that Florida’s fish, wildlife, and other priceless natural resources are conserved for future generations. Their focused efforts not only benefit the state of Florida but help to impact fish and wildlife conservation on a national and international level as well.


The Association presented two special recognition awards for outstanding commitment to the work of AFWA to Stephanie Hussey with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, and Chris Parish with The Peregrine Fund. 

As the State R3 Program Director for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), Stephanie Hussey serves as liaison with state fish and wildlife agencies in R3 efforts, from the initial stages of planning and deliberation, training plan development, to the ultimate goal of implementing new and improved strategies to recruit new anglers and boaters, retain an agency’s lifelong supporters, and reactivating those who lost their way. In leading RBFF’s state R3 program development, Stephanie has lent her support and encouragement to help state agencies increase participation in fishing and boating through the creation of many unique and key initiatives and programs.

Although Chris Parish works tirelessly to develop partnerships between non-profit organizations and other management agencies, he has not forgotten that the individual sportsmen and women are the most important partner to gain in this effort, and he will work as long as any individual to understand issues and to create a culture where voluntary change can occur. His commitment to wildlife and the ideals of the North American Model of Wildlife Management are exemplified in every aspect of Chris’s professional and personal life.

The Association would like to pay tribute to the wildlife professionals, Fallen Heroes, who have lost their lives while carrying out their duties to enforce conservation laws and regulations and manage fish and wildlife resources within the past year.  In memory of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn and Doug Megargle with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.