The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has honored conservation professionals from several western states with awards commending their work to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The awards were announced July 16 at WAFWA's annual conference, held this year in Eugene, Oregon.
John D. Groendyke from Oklahoma was honored with WAFWA’s most prestigious award, the Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Groendyke was honored for his more than four decades of leadership on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Since his first appointment to the Commission in 1976, Groendyke has demonstrated an incredible commitment to fish and wildlife resources and has participated in nearly every major conservation decision or initiative in the state of Oklahoma during that timeframe. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin reappointed Groendyke to the Commission for a historic fifth term in 2012, and stated how remarkable it is that he has continuously served under seven governors for both the Republican and Democratic parties. The award Groendyke received is named for Phillip W. Schneider of Oregon, whose legendary commitment to fish and wildlife resources spanned more than 40 years in a career in which he served as director of the state’s game and fish agency, and later as a commissioner and commissioner emeritus of Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Wyoming Game Warden Dustin Shorma was honored with WAFWA’s Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award for his dedication to duty. He’s been a game warden for more than 18 years and is widely recognized as being one of the hardest-working, effective and most dedicated wildlife officers in Wyoming. He’s known for his attention to detail in building cases that can be successfully prosecuted. He uses technology to help crack complex cases and shares that knowledge. His leadership and mentoring have had a profound impact on wildlife law enforcement in Wyoming. Shorma’s work ethic and personable, friendly demeanor have gained him the respect and appreciation of landowners and sportsmen and women throughout his district. He serves as a model for landowner relations, law enforcement, and responsible wildlife management which together garner public support for the conservation work of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award memorializes Idaho Fish and Game officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, who were killed in January 1981 while trying to arrest a poacher in a remote region of southwestern Idaho.
There were two honorees for WAFWA’s 2018 Professional of the Year Award. Doug Howie was recognized for his consistent professionalism and resourcefulness in administering North Dakota’s Private Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program. PLOTS is one of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s highest profile programs, and Howie is a critical player in its success. PLOTS is widely recognized as one of the most successful access programs in the country, and Howie’s dedication has impacted thousands of sportsmen and women.
Jason Schooley was honored with WAFWA’s 2018 Professional of the Year Award for his contributions in managing Oklahoma paddlefish stocks based on sound scientific data, population modeling, and angler input. He’s been widely published, and shares information with anglers across the world via websites. He regularly speaks to angling groups to share his knowledge of paddlefish and general fisheries biology and ecology. Because of his efforts, the Oklahoma Paddlefish Research Center is known to anglers and scientists world-wide as a valuable asset to science-based paddlefish stock management.
WAFWA honors the conservation efforts of federal partners with the Federal Conservation Partner of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma, which was honored for its commitment to natural resource conservation. The facility covers 45,000 acres, encompassing timberland, grasslands, brush land and aquatic habitat and wetlands. While meeting its military mission, the ammunition plant does an exemplary job of stewarding the natural resources within the facility boundaries. Quality deer management, agricultural outlease, invasive species control and pest management, threatened and endangered species, wetlands rehabilitation, and public outreach are the major components of the program.
Other awards conferred included the President's Award, which went to the Intermountain West Joint Venture. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission was honored with the Commission of the Year Award. Julie Meka Carter, Jon Sjöberg and Therese Thompson were recognized for their work with the Western Native Trout Initiative with the WAFWA Contributor of the Year Award. Tony Rodgers and Matt Skogg received a Special Achievement Award for their work to implement a new streams management program in Oklahoma. Jeff Tibbits (OK) and Tom Mackin (AZ) were each honored with WAFWA’s 2018 Special Recognition Award. WAFWA recognized the Outstanding Citizen Wildlife Contributor by honoring Joshua Coursey and Joey Faigl from Wyoming. WAFWA also conferred lifetime membership awards to four individuals for their career accomplishments and service to the organization: Kevin Hunting (CA), Edward (Pat) Madden (AZ), Ross Melinchuk (TX) and Jim Unsworth (WA).
WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/
Contact: Larry Kruckenberg 307.631.4536
Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.
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