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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

ARCHIVED NEWS RELEASE
This document is provided for archival purposes only.
Archived documents do not reflect current WDFW regulations or policy and may contain factual inaccuracies.

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May 17, 2016
Contact: Jason Wettstein (360) 902-2254

WDFW's 2016 'Citizen Awards' honor
volunteers' dedication to fish and wildlife

Olympia – One volunteer built nest boxes and a global following of wood duck conservation enthusiasts over three decades, while another helped pilot a state-wide hunter education effort oriented toward women and girls.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2016 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.

Wood ducks are just one of many species to benefit from the dedication of Volunteer of the Year, Dale Schielke. Working with colleagues at the Richland Rod and Gun Club for more than 30 years, Schielke's nest boxes have provided a window on annual duckling jumps, in which new ducklings jump from their nest boxes to delight viewers around the world via live video (http://www.rrgcwoodducks.org/)

"Dale always has a smile, whether he is providing shelter for wood ducks, organizing fishing days for thousands of young people in Central Washington, or working in fish slime from dawn to dusk at Ringold Hatchery," said Jason Fidorra, a WDFW wildlife biologist.

Educator of the Year, Cathy Lynch certified 369 students, or more than 10 percent of hunter education students in the North Puget Sound region, in 2015. She also helped train and certify 24 new volunteer hunter education instructors. When asked if she would assist in classes oriented toward women hunters, she quickly secured a venue and an all-female teaching team to make it happen months ahead of schedule.

"Cathy sees what needs to be done and does it," said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW.  "The classes oriented toward women have been so well received by the public that we decided to expand the program statewide."

Other citizen awards announced by WDFW included the following:

  • Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award:  Bill Vincent was recognized with the Terry Hoffer award for his outstanding contributions as a hunter education instructor.  He also currently serves on the Instructor Advisory Committee, and has served on the Master Hunter Advisory Group and the Fish and Wildlife Commission's Americans with Disabilities Act advisory committee.

    "Serving hunters in remote communities, as well as youth, tribal and military populations, Bill has done it all," said David Whipple, hunter education division manager. "He is a versatile, involved leader who is helping to ensure a bright future for hunting in Washington."

    The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.
  • Organization of the Year: The 15 independent chapters of Puget Sound Anglers were recognized for thousands of hours spent volunteering at hatcheries, organizing kids fishing events and educating anglers on release techniques to protect wild salmon, steelhead and rockfish. 

    "Puget Sound Anglers consistently support policies that are critical to stewardship of Washington's fish and natural resources, mark selective fisheries and hatcheries, and many other conservation efforts," said Larry Phillips, WDFW inland fish manager.
  • Landowner of the Year: Murray Benjamin and his daughter, Jenna Benjamin, were recognized for committing over 240 volunteer hours to organize people and equipment to prevent elk damage on agricultural lands in the Skagit Valley.

    "The Benjamins helped organize a community group to address elk damage concerns, said Scott Witman, an environmental specialist with WDFW.  "This led to WDFW and tribal managers implementing landowner proposed habitat and fencing solutions to reduce elk damage in the valley."

WDFW Director Jim Unsworth said citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2015.

WDFW welcomes volunteer help in activities that benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/