Tennessee Wildlife Federation recently hosted the 52nd Annual Conservation Achievement Awards. The ceremony was held in Nashville and presented 17 awards to recipients from all corners of the state.
“We started these awards more than a half-century ago because we recognized that conserving our wildlife and natural places is the work over every Tennessean,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “No one organization or person, no matter how big or influential, can do it own their own.”
The ceremony was emceed by WSM and Grand Ole Opry personality, Bill Cody. Each winner received their award from Tennessee Wildlife Federation Board Chairman, Ric Wolbrecht.
“Tennessee Wildlife Federation is proud to hold up the meaningful work of our award winners as examples for others to follow,” said Butler.
The event was sponsored by Bridgestone, PCA (Packaging Corporation of America) and First Tennessee.
The honorees of the 52nd Annual Conservation Achievement Awards are:
J. Clark Akers Award – Dr. Jack Gayden of Memphis
Z. Cartter Patten Award – Jack Muncy of Norris
Conservationist of the Year – George Lindemann of Grandview
Chairman’s Award – Chris Koch of Germantown
Conservation Legislator of the Year – Senator Mike Bell of Riceville
Land Conservationist of the Year – Dr. David Sloas of Cordova
Water Conservationists of the Year – Wayne and Adrian Bomar of Shelbyville
Forest Conservationist of the Year – Clarence Coffey of Crossville
Wildlife Conservationist of the Year – Conservation Fisheries based in Knoxville
Conservation Organization of the Year – Tennessee Naturalist Program
Conservation Educator of the Year – Tish Gailmard of Signal Mountain
Conservation Communicator of the Year – Margie Hunter of Nashville
Youth Conservationist of the Year – Bobby Wade, Jr. of Memphis
Gedeon D. Petit Memorial Award – Pandy English of Franklin
Hunter Education Instructor of the Year – Darrell Bernd of Shelbyville
On Target Award – Boyd Wade of Memphis
Dan & Cherie Hammond Sharing the Harvest Award – Fred Heitman of Knoxville
J. Clark Akers Award
Dr. Jack Gayden
The J. Clark Akers Award recognizes many years of dedicated, effective, and valuable service to Tennessee Wildlife Federation. Dr. Gayden has been an enthusiastic and unyielding booster of the Federation. A lifelong and well-traveled hunter and angler, Dr. Gayden recognized the organization’s potential to be one of the top conservation nonprofits in the state and stepped in to help it get there. He engaged with the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program, launched the school-based Hunger Challenge, and supports the Federation’s Conservation Policy work. A former Board Chair, Dr. Gayden’s leadership always embodies a personal touch that demonstrates his genuine care for the organization and the people who make it.
Z. Cartter Patten Award
The Z. Cartter Patten Award honors a lifetime of service to the cause of conservation. Mr. Muncy’s natural resource management and land stewardship career with the Tennessee Valley Authority stretches more than four decades. His on-the-ground projects have covered more than 100,000 acres and 50 miles of waterways. He’s also influenced practices that improved TVA’s 20,000 miles of transmission right-of ways. His projects include leading a reclamation project that addressed 12,000 acres of abused lands that Apollo astronauts saw and called “a huge scar on mother earth.” Mr. Muncy also spearheaded the planting of more than 20 million trees, 6 million shrubs, and the aerial dispersal of 1.1 million pounds of seed mixtures.
Conservationist of the Year
Upon moving to Tennessee, avid paddler and conservationist Mr. Lindemann, learned that Soak Creek, along the edge of his new property, was listed as a favorite backcountry paddling route. Mr. Lindemann organized, funded, and led a coalition of landowners, conservation groups, and state program leaders to secure unanimous, bipartisan approval designating Soak Creek as a Tennessee State Scenic River—the first new designation in 15 years. He then donated land to permanently conserve the creek and its banks for wildlife, paddlers, and hikers. His work also made it possible for the state to leverage federal funds to add five miles of trail, connecting two State Natural Areas.
Mr. Koch’s adamant and rapid support of Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s mission and programs has earned him the Chairman’s Award. After being introduced to the Federation, Mr. Koch, along with his son, became active in the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program. Mr. Koch is a deeply engaged parent volunteer and joined his son on a Youth Hunting & Fishing Program event. Seeing the results, Mr. Koch became a major financial supporter of the program the very next year.
Conservation Legislator of the Year
Senator Mike Bell
During his public service, Senator Bell has championed numerous issues important to sportsmen and women, including the creation of apprentice hunter permits and sponsoring the Constitutional Amendment that ensured Tennesseans the right to hunt and fish. This legislative session, Senator Bell was a leading advocate in the Senate for the measure that re-allocates $2.3 million annually to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These much needed resources are dedicated to TWRA’s management of Tennessee waterways.
Land Conservationist of the Year
Dr. David Sloas
Inspired by his desire to bring the warmth of wildlife photography into healthcare centers, Dr. Sloas created a first-of-its-kind Certified Wildlife Habitat that corresponds plants’ bloom with the optimal sun position for photography—an approach he then implemented with the Memphis Botanic Garden. Separately, he designed and funded a 10-acre perennial garden at Reelfoot Lake to support wildlife, increase tourism, and reduce maintenance costs. He is actively advocating the method be used in all Tennessee State Parks.
Water Conservationists of the Year
Wayne and Adrian Bomar
Mr. and Mrs. Bomar recognized the gem that ran through their home of Shelbyville and set out to conserve it. They are responsible for what has become a movement in Shelbyville—to clean up, and keep clean, the Duck River. The cause is now recognized city-wide and is moving into neighboring counties.
Forest Conservationist of the Year
Thanks to Mr. Coffey’s work, there has been a reawakening of interest in Tennessee about the Shortleaf Pine, which once stretched across 23 states. Through his efforts, there are now plantings in the Cherokee National Forest and two Wildlife Management Areas to re-establish the species and provide vital habitats for grassland birds.
Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
Founded by Pat Rakes and J.R. Shute, Conservation Fisheries is dedicated to preserving aquatic biodiversity in our state’s waters and restoring fish populations decimated by pollution or habitat destruction. The organization has developed original techniques to propagate more than 65 nongame fish, including some of the most imperiled species in the Southeast. Their efforts have improved the status of many species.
Conservation Organization of the Year
Tennessee Naturalist Program
The Tennessee Naturalist Program was created as a non-profit in 2011 with the goals of creating a sustainable Tennessee through a more educated adult populace and building a volunteer pool to support the work of state conservation entities. Since its formation, 520 Tennesseans have become certified Tennessee Naturalists who have completed thousands of hours of volunteer service.
Conservation Educator of the Year
Mrs. Gailmard is the Director of Wildlife at Chattanooga’s Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, which boasts nearly 40 animals and more than 300 acres of conserved natural space. She helped build these resources and uses them to teach conservation. Mrs. Gailmard has developed programs that span public outreach events to hosting school-age children at the center.
Conservation Communicator of the Year
Mrs. Hunter has been practicing conservation most of her life and preaching it for more than 15 years. She lectures across the state on nature-related topics and is the author of Gardening with the Native Plants of Tennessee. Mrs. Hunter also shares the joys and some of the pains of hiking on her blog, “Hiking the Smokies.”
Youth Conservationist of the Year
Bobby Wade, Jr.
Mr. Wade, Jr. is a high school junior at Memphis University School and already has put his passion for being a sportsman and conservationist into action. Under his leadership, the student-run Hunger Challenge club became the State Champions for their contributions to Hunters for the Hungry. Mr. Wade himself won two individual awards for his work.
Gedeon D. Petit Memorial Award
Mrs. English has worked tirelessly to create the Tennessee Naturalist Program while also maintaining her role with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, earning her this award that honors outstanding accomplishments by a TWRA officer. Mrs. English helped grow the program to eight chapter across Tennessee and generously shares her tremendous knowledge about Tennessee’s flora, fauna, and natural history.
Hunter Education Instructor of the Year
Mr. Bernd is a prolific teacher who brings a large dose of humor to his classrooms. Mr. Bernd was certified as an instructor in July 1992. Since, he has taught or assisted with an unbelievable 705 classes. He also created tools to assist his fellow teachers, which he shares with new instructors at the annual workshop.
On Target Award
Mr. Wade’s support of the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program is a model for others and earned him the On Target Award. He founded the shooting program at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and demonstrates incredible dedication to his athletes. Mr. Wade created an atmosphere that was fun yet intensely competitive and regularly brings in outside help to assist athletes with particular needs.
Dan & Cherie Hammond Sharing the Harvest Award
Mr. Heitman went above and beyond to support the Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program. He advocated for Hunters for the Hungry during his tenure as a Rotary Club District Governor, setting up meeting after meeting with Rotary presidents, members, and Rotary Interact students. His work generated donations to the program that fed thousands of Tennesseans.