Conservation Leaders Recognized with 2017 Refuge System Awards Washington, D.C.

refsystemawardsheaderThe National Wildlife Refuge Association announced the 2017 National Wildlife Refuge System Awards exemplifying the outstanding conservation management skills and volunteer leadership found throughout the Refuge System. The annual awards honor the Refuge Manager, Refuge Employee, Refuge Volunteer and Friends Group of the Year. “We are extremely proud to honor these individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to enhancing and protecting America’s national wildlife refuges, said Geoffrey L. Haskett, Acting-President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “They are an inspiration to all of us to remain positive and continue promoting the Refuge System.”

The 2017 Awardees are:

Kevin Godsea: The Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award

Kevin Godsea, Refuge Manager, Florida Panther NWR | USFWS

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is proud to award Kevin Godsea of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge with the 2017 Refuge Manager of the Year Award. He is a visionary, an innovator, and an advisor for fellow conservation partners, community leaders, landowners, and his staff when it comes to conserving Southwest Florida’s critically important landscape. Kevin has been instrumental in developing strong relationships to build and uphold the integrity of critical Florida panther habitat. He empowers his staff to innovate, to be creative, and to think outside of the box to address important challenges. Refuge staff admire Kevin’s leadership and dedication to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. He is approachable, patient, trustworthy, and has grown into an inspirational leader among his peers. We are proud to present Kevin Godsea with this prestigious award.

Read more about Kevin’s great work

Dale Pittman: Refuge Employee of the Year Award

Dale Pittman, Regional Heavy Equipment Coordinator for Region 3 of the USFWS

The National Wildlife Refuge Association has selected Dale Pittman as the recipient of the 2017 Refuge System Employee of the Year Award. As a Regional Heavy Equipment Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stationed at Illinois River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Illinois, Dale has developed and implemented critical programs not only to ensure the safety of Service employees but to also reduce costs. Dale led the Service in the development and implementation of the Maintenance Action Team (MAT) Program, which saved over $15 million in direct costs, eliminated over $10 million of deferred maintenance and habitat restoration backlog, and expanded equipment operation training and professional networks. Throughout Dale’s 25-year career with the Service, he has served as a mentor and a leader of his community. In 2015 Dale was selected for the Service’s Meritorious Service award. His vision and dedication have empowered staff to make the Refuge System a better and safer place to work.

Read more about Dale’s great work

Richard Esker: The Volunteer of the Year Award

Dick Esker, Refuge Volunteer at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia | USFWS

Richard Esker, a volunteer at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia, is the recipient of the 2017 Refuge System Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments of volunteers in support of the operation and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System. A retired engineer, Dick has been a dedicated volunteer, logging more than 11,645 hours since 2003 and using his expertise to design elegant solutions when given a task or objective to accomplish. The variety of his projects includes design and construction of kiosks, aquaculture systems, a tree nursery bed, bird and bat boxes, visitor center aquarium, refuge information signs and maps – and more! Innovation and critical thinking comes naturally to Dick, making him an essential asset to the team at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. His creativity, positive attitude, patience, and diligence are an inspiration to all who are privileged to work beside him.

Read more about Richard’s great work

Friends of Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge: The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award

The Friends of Trempealeau NWR in Wisconsin, is our 2017 Molly Krival Refuge System Friends Group of the Year, named to honor the late Molly Krival, a pioneer in the Refuge Friends Group movement. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by a group of dedicated volunteers in Friends organizations who provide essential services to their refuge and the Refuge System. In 2016, the Friends of the Trempealeau NWR worked tirelessly to construct the Outdoor Wonders Learning Center, an environmental education classroom for the more than 4,000 school children that visit the refuge every year. Friends work side-by-side with the visitor services staff to provide for the needs of visitors including school children, disabled hunters, birders, bicyclists, and tourists. They work with maintenance staff to pull, spray, cut and mow invasive plants and they work with the refuge manager to strengthen the relationship between the refuge and the surrounding communities. They have worked tirelessly to help their refuge grow and prosper, and we are proud to present them with this award.

Read more about the Friends of Trempealeau

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2017/04/conservation-leaders-recognized-with-2017-refuge-system-awards-washington-d-c/

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