Dan Lynch: (603) 271-3511
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
May 1, 2006

Seven Earn Fish and Game Commission Awards of Excellence

CONCORD, N.H. -- Seven outstanding New Hampshire citizens and organizations have been recognized by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission with Awards of Excellence for their efforts in the conservation field in support of the N.H. Fish and Game Department's mission. This is the first year the Commissioners have presented the annual awards, which recognize outstanding achievements by individuals and groups outside Fish and Game in furthering the work of the Department. The awards were presented at Discover Wild New Hampshire Day (April 22, 2006) at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.

"Fish and Game is fortunate to have many dedicated partners, supporters and volunteers, who we work with every day to achieve great things in wildlife conservation," said Fish and Game Executive Director Lee E. Perry. "This is our chance to express our thanks for their hard work and diligence in conserving and managing the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources."

The 2005 Commission Awards of Excellence (click to skip to details for a particular award recipient):

The Ellis R. Hatch Jr. Commission Award of Excellence recognizes an individual, group, organization, club, foundation or agency that has excelled in efforts to promote, enhance or benefit fish, wildlife or marine resources or Fish and Game's mission through any variety of involvement. The 2006 RECIPIENT, Shirley Johnson, of Salisbury, has volunteered for Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program for nearly 20 years, played a valuable role in improving and expanding Fish and Game's Federal Aid Program, and who has served on the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program committee for 11 years. An avid hunter and angler, Johnson "has been an unsung hero for New Hampshire Fish and Game's mission as she quietly and selflessly worked long hours to contribute to her love of New Hampshire's fish and wildlife resources," said Fish and Game Hunter and Aquatic Education program leader Laura Ryder.

The Communication Award of Excellence recognizes an outdoor communicator, writer, or media source that has written or published articles or materials beneficial to public understanding about fish, wildlife or marine resources as they relate to Fish and Game's mission. The 2006 RECIPIENT, radio station WOKQ and production manager Mark Williams, of Dover, have consistently supported Fish and Game's mission over the past ten years by regularly recording and airing free public service announcements for the Department. The station has donated air and production time, with a value approaching $1 million, to Fish and Game. Working with Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Eric Orff, they have created a pool of public service messages about wildlife, fishing and hunting that are used on WOKQ and shared with 57 other radio stations around the state. WOKQ production manager Mark Williams (known as Mark Wiitala when not on the air), has demonstrated consistent support and enthusiasm for Fish and Game goals through this cooperative work. "Our deepest appreciation goes to Mark [Williams] and WOKQ for their work in creating and delivering delightful and always interesting public service announcements about New Hampshire's wildlife resources and opportunities to hunt, fish and watch wildlife in the Granite State," said Fish and Game Executive Director Lee Perry.

The Conservation Organization Award of Excellence recognizes any organization, group, foundation, or agency that has excelled in efforts to enhance the welfare of fish, wildlife and marine resources, and supporting achievement of the N.H. Fish and Game Department's mission. Recipients are judged on their efforts to promote the wise use of natural resources for their recreational or economic value. The 2006 RECIPIENT is The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire Chapter, which was recognized for its diligent work in protecting critical habitats around New Hampshire's Great Bay through the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership. Since 1994, the Conservancy has served as the group's lead acquisition agent, working with a variety of landowners to negotiate deals that protect critical wildlife habitat, safeguard Great Bay's waters and ensure public access. Thanks in part to the Conservancy's work, the Partnership has protected 3,451 acres through outright acquisition, and additional 538 acres has been protected through conservation easement, for a total of 3,989 acres conserved in one of New Hampshire's fastest-growing areas. These lands include a winter eagle roosting site in Newmarket; important waterfowl habitat in Greenland; and parcels in Durham and Newmarket that provide habitat for wood duck, Blanding's turtle, osprey and other wildlife. "Much conservation work remains at Great Bay, both within its waters and throughout its watershed. I am confident that, with The Nature Conservancy as a partner, there's a bright future for Great Bay," said Peter Wellenberger, manager of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Daryl Burtnett, Director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, accepted the award for the organization. To learn more about the Nature Conservancy, click here to visit

The Volunteer Organization Award of Excellence recognizes individuals who, as volunteers for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, have excelled in efforts to support and achieve Fish and Game's mission. Two individuals were selected to receive this award for 2006: John Cowan of Weare and Don McGinley of New Boston.

2006 Volunteer Award of Excellence Recipient John Cowan, of Weare, has "given tirelessly of his time to foster conservation of New Hampshire's natural resources and responsible use of the state's water and fisheries resources," said Fish and Game Executive Director Lee Perry. Cowan's diverse contributions include being a volunteer instructor with Fish and Game's Let's Go Fishing Program; a board member representing anglers' interests on the Public Water Access Advisory Board; serving two years as President of Operation Game Thief; appearing in an episode of Wildlife Journal television series about the Let's Go Fishing program; coordinating a fall promotional trip on Lake Winnisquam for members of the Northeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; and past service as president and director of environmental and youth activities for the American Bass Association of New Hampshire, the Over the Hill Bass Club, the Bass Anglers of Southern New Hampshire, and the North East Bass Association. "These are just a few examples of the many contributions that John Cowan makes toward achieving the Fish and Game Department's mission on a regular basis," Perry said.

2006 Volunteer Award of Excellence Recipient Don McGinley, of New Boston, and the Merrimack River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited's "Adopt-A-Biologist" program, have provided an essential volunteer workforce to several state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, allowing critically important fisheries projects to be completed during a time in which they faced dire fiscal constraints. During its three years of existence, the Adopt-A-Biologist program has provided more than 2,100 hours of volunteer service to a range of program areas, providing a model for other volunteer efforts. In a single year, the program's volunteers fin-clipped 46,000 trout and landlocked salmon at two state hatcheries, stocked 261,000 Atlantic salmon fry and hand-stocked 600 pounds of trout in local streams. "This level of commitment is exceptional and has made a significant contribution to management of New Hampshire's fisheries resources," said Lee Perry, Fish and Game Executive Director. "Behind every successful program there is a passionate advocate, a person who sees opportunity -- not problems, and has the ability to conceive an idea and put it into operation. Such is the case with Don McGinley."

The Landowner Appreciation Award of Excellence from the N.H. Fish and Game Commission recognizes an individual who excelled in the preservation or enhancement of opportunities for public use on private property as it benefits the Fish and Game mission. The 2006 RECIPIENT is Thomas N. Thomson, of Orford, who received the award in recognition of his active participation in natural resources conservation and advocacy for land stewardship. "Tom Thomson leads by example when it comes to the management of his family's 2,500 acres of forest lands that conserve and protect wildlife resources and their habitats," said Fish and Game Executive Director Lee Perry. Thomson is a second generation N.H. tree farmer (his father was former Governor Mel Thomson Jr.) who conducts educational programs for school children on his lands; provides technical expertise to state agencies and nonprofit conservation organizations; and gives lectures and training in natural resource conservation and stewardship, private lands-public access partnerships and integrated multi-purpose land use and management. Thomson also has been a dedicated advocate for public use of and appreciation for natural resources, assisting with drafting and support of legislation to secure such opportunities on private lands and serving as a member of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force. Thomson previously was honored with the Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award Department from Cooperative Extension; and was named "Landowner of the Year" by N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation Division Trails Bureau. "Today we add the Fish and Game Commission's Landowner Appreciation Award to these accomplishments, with our deep thanks for his active participation in natural resources management and stewardship," said Perry.

The Youth Conservationist Award of Excellence recognizes an individual, 18 years of age or younger, who has excelled in efforts to benefit fish, wildlife or marine resources or the Fish and Game's mission through any variety of involvement. (This award will be presented at the N.H. Fish and Game Commission meeting at Fish and Game headquarters at 1 p.m. on June 21, 2006.) The 2006 RECIPIENT is Timothy Carey, age 15, of Hooksett, who shares his love of wildlife as a trained outreach docent for Fish and Game and for the Little Nature Museum in Hopkinton. Tim also raises ducks and is an active member of the Hillsborough County 4-H Program. In the sixth grade, Timothy's essay on the Karner blue butterfly earned him a place representing New Hampshire at a Kid's Summit on Endangered Species in California. He teaches workshops on wildlife in public schools and to homeschooler groups, on topics ranging from furbearers to endangered species. "Timothy's passion for wildlife flows over in his teachings; he inspires his students to appreciate and think about what they can do to conserve what the beautiful state of New Hampshire has to offer," wrote Becky Woodman, Coordinator of First Agape Homeschooling Association in her letter of support for Timothy's nomination.

As guardian of New Hampshire's fish, wildlife and marine resources, the Fish and Game Department works in partnership with the public to:

  • Conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats;
  • Inform and educate the public about these resources; and
  • Provide opportunities for the public to use and appreciate these resources.

The N.H. Fish and Game Commissioners Awards of Excellence are given annually. For more information on how to nominate a person or organization for these awards, click here. The deadline is December 31 annually.

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