OLYMPIA - What does it take to be recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)?
- Wayne Emmel of Spokane spends up to 20 hours per week airborne, recording the movements of mule deer equipped with radio collars.
- Fred Palmer of Kalama has personally distributed thousands of spawned-out salmon carcasses on the Kalama River, where they provide needed nutrients for young steelhead and other fish.
- Jim Hamlin of Conway has virtually adopted the Skagit Wildlife Area, maintaining equipment and facilities, overseeing ferry operations, posting signs and helping to locate lost hunters.
For these and other contributions to fish and wildlife stewardship in Washington state, the three men shared WDFW's top volunteer award for 2002 at a recognition ceremony Wednesday, May 7 held in conjunction with Public Service Recognition Week.
"These three men are key partners in our effort to sustain fish and wildlife in our state," said Jeff Koenings, WDFW director. "With thousands of square miles to cover and a limited staff, we rely on the commitment of volunteers like these to meet the daily challenge of providing stewardship for Washington's fish and wildlife."
Koenings also presented an award for Volunteer Organization of the Year to the Trail Blazers, a small club in western Washington with a passion for alpine wilderness and high lakes fishing. Each year, the club's 55 members stock more than 100 alpine lakes with fish, as well as maintaining trails, restoring streams and helping with WDFW research projects.
"Without the efforts of the Trail Blazers, we would very simply have a lot fewer fishing opportunities in our alpine lakes than we have today," Koenings said.
Other recipients of citizen's awards presented by WDFW for activities in 2002 include:
- Julie Larson of Yakima was named Educator of the Year after training more than a thousand Yakima Valley students in grades 1-12 to collect habitat data in the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. Her work not only gave her students a foundation in applied natural sciences, but also demonstrated the value of data collected by students. Julie's mother, Joy Larson, accepted the award on behalf of her daughter, who died in an auto accident April 6.
- Bill Goeres of Satsop received the award for Landowner of the Year. Goeres, who runs a farm and cattle ranch next to the Chehalis Valley Wildlife Area, has worked with WDFW to improve waterfowl habitat in the wildlife area and has regularly opened his own farmland to hunters. His property is also a popular stop for birdwatchers, who can see a wide variety of waterfowl on the Goeres property.
After announcing the citizens' awards, Koenings then recognized a number of WDFW staff members for career achievements and outstanding work in 2002.
The Employee of the Year Award went to Paul Ashley, a Spokane wildlife biologist who has dedicated his 28-year career with the department to protecting and rebuilding fish and wildlife populations affected by hydropower operations in the Columbia River Basin.
Detective Bill Jarmon, a WDFW enforcement officer, received the Shikar Safari International Award for his work in breaking up a major geoduck theft and crab poaching ring in southern Puget Sound. Shikar Safari is an international hunting organization. A Pierce County man could face nearly 20 years in prison after entering a plea agreement in the poaching case in April. Sentencing is expected to occur in June.
Other award winners ranged from Scott Moore, a hatchery specialist who rescued a 7-year-old girl from a potential drowning, to Thu Lang Ngo, WDFW's comptroller who spearheaded improvements in the department's budget and revenue systems.