Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs
Top Conservationists Awards
2008 Awards Banquet Photos on next page
Federation Top Honorees ~ Awards Banquet held in the Spring of the following year
To see how you and/or your Conservation Club can qualify
for these honors, go to the bottom of page HERE
Every award has a different
connotation, carrying its own meaning and level of importance. To say that
one award means more than another would be wrong. Look at these awards as
different categories - opportunities to recognize the workers that are in
the trenches. It's the same trench, but each might have a different task.
The end result is the same - the trench is dug. With shovel in hand, these
were the current Awards Winners as selected by the county's Federation - a
group representing some 25 clubs and over 5,500 sportsmen in Niagara.
Niagara County Federation
Pays Tribute to 2014 Award Winners
By Bill Hilts, Jr.
Each year, the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs pays it forward as a tribute to the men, women and children, as well as the stand-out clubs, who lead the conservation charge – be it for hunting, fishing and our Second Amendments right; protecting our natural resources or just helping Mother Nature along when she needs a little help from some friends. These are the awards winners for 2014 as they were presented at Terry’s Corners Fire Hall, Gasport on Saturday, April 19 - a small token of appreciation from the outdoor community.
The Oliver Jones Memorial Award for Sportsperson of the Year goes to Georgina Grosofsky of Williamsville, Chairwoman of the Niagara Frontier Friends of the NRA Committee. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Her efforts with the NRA Committee were (and continue to be) tireless as she rounded up the old team and added new team members – doubling the volunteers working on the committee. She set a record performance at her very first banquet raising over $33,000.00. She also travels downstate each year to represent Western New York at the State Funds Committee meeting. Local grant monies awarded through her committee were $19,000 this year. These are all monies that have a direct impact on some many other programs – from youth and women shooting sports to range and habitat improvements. Her work has a snowball effect on some many other groups.
The Leroy Winn Memorial Award is given each year for the Club of the Year, recognizing a Federation Club for outstanding service to conservation and the community. This year’s recipient of club of the year is the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA), a fishing club focused on education and natural resource enhancement. These diehard fishermen are all about teaching more and more people on learning to fish – and not just salmon and trout fishing. Monthly meetings have an educational component but each year they also coordinate a Salmon School and Lake Ontario Marketplace, now held in conjunction with the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo. Proceeds are earmarked for an extensive salmon and trout pen rearing project in Olcott, a program that the club has been involved with for 10 years. These are just some of the things that the club is involved with.
The Milford “Pinky” Robinson Award, symbolic of dedication to the Great Lakes fisheries, goes to Dr. Dimitry Gorsky, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 2010, Gorsky has been instrumental in conducting ground-breaking research involving lake sturgeon and lake trout in the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Through his research he’s established that lake trout are indeed spawning in the river system and his sturgeon work utilizes state-of-the art technology that will help to solve many of the mysteries of these prehistoric fish. In addition, he helped to kick off World Fish Migration Day with a new event in 2014 at Joseph Davis State Park.
The Carl Lass Memorial Award for Youth of the Year went to local junior shooting sports enthusiast Dominic Sollitto of Niagara Falls. The junior shooter, who belongs to the Junior Club of the Three-F Club in Lewiston, has earned the rank of “Distinguished Expert Marksman.” He has shot a perfect score of 200 and competes in the U.S. National Rifle Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. He is enrolled in the Niagara-Orleans BOCES Conservation Program, a 17 year old in 11th Grade. He helps with teaching other young shooters in safe gun handling techniques. He is the future.
The John Daly Memorial Award for Legislator of the Year went to long-time Second Amendment and conservation supporter Dr. John Syracuse of Newfane. Dr. Syracuse is quick to stand up in the County Legislature whenever this is a fishing, hunting or Second Amendment issue to deal with. He serves as the county liaison to the Fisheries Development Board and also assists with numerous fishing contests such as the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament and the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey event. We are lucky to have him for his leadership and his dedication.
The Ken Berner Memorial Conservation Award for person, family or organization dedicated to conservation was given to Dave Kern, Sr. of Lockport. Kern, who currently serves as Vice President of the Federation, is a long-time volunteer for many different conservation groups and programs. He has been a driving force in the local Pheasants Forever Chapter working on their Annual Fundraising Banquet, Youth Mentor Hunt and is the person taking seed orders for Habitat Projects. He has always been there for the Federation when needed, serving as former Co-chairman of the Federation Awards Committee. In addition, he always volunteers to work numerous shifts whenever the Federation’s Mobile Air Rifle Range is put into service. When it comes to serving Niagara County he is truly one of the top volunteers and is currently the Alternate Delegate to the New York State Conservation Council and is this year’s Vice President of the Western New York Environmental Federation.
The Victor Fitchlee Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in conservation and outdoor sports was bestowed on Paul Schnell of Hilton, formerly of Niagara County. Schnell, known for his outdoor education through his Institute for Environmental Learning, has been taking an active role in the outdoors for over three decades.
The John Long, Sr. Memorial Award for business of the year went to The Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls for starting up a brand new event in the county that has turned into something very special. The Conference and Event Center initiated the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo in 2014, focusing on the natural resources of Western New York. The Expo now houses a huge educational component through the Western New York Fishing Academy, including educational components for everyone from the novice and youth to the experienced anglers looking to expand their knowledge even further. Working with LOTSA, the Conference Center also raised money for the group’s pen rearing project in Olcott.
The President’s Award for outstanding service to the Federation selected by Doug Walck of Niagara Falls while he was running the group’s ship last year was given to Jim Perri of Lewiston. Perri is the President of the Three-F Club in Lewiston and his leadership has helped to turn the club around into one of the top shooting sports facilities in the region.
Two different hunter safety training awards are handed out each year, one for firearms and one for archery. Walter Whitenight of Newfane won the James Reed/Donald Meyer Memorial Award for firearms hunter education. He has been instructing since 1992 and he normally teaches out of the Hartland Conservationists Club in Gasport. He actually took over from the late great Archie Lowery at the club. He’s a professional in every sense of the word and dedicated to teaching a top-notch hunter safety class for future generations. The archery award, known as the Steve Fountain/Arch Lowery Memorial Award, went to long time archery instructor Mark Irlbacher of Doc’s Archery in North Tonawanda. He’s been instructing since 1978, certified as a DEC master instructor! It’s but a small piece of recognition for a volunteer job, important people who help to shape and mold future hunters. Some little known information about Irlbacher is that he is a member of the NYS Archery Hall of Fame; he is an active tournament archer with 15 state championships under his belt; and he has been in the archery business for over 48 years.
The Don Bronson Memorial Conservation Wall of Fame is located at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport. Two new inductees will be added this year: Dave Whitt of Lewiston, a former Federation sportsperson of the year, was recognized for his long-term commitment to conservation – especially as it relates to habitat, pheasants and waterfowl. He started out serving as a board member and officer of the Three-F Club in Lewiston in the 1970’s. Since then he’s been involved with Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the USDA’s Conservation Office in Lockport. Habitat work and youth involvement are both important aspects of his legacy. He started up a youth day at the Three-F Club to teach the next generation about the outdoors. He was involved with starting up the Niagara County Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation; helped design and implement the Plateau Project in Lewiston, an important grasslands habitat; and he also helped implement food and cover plots at the 1,600 acre Somerset Power Plant.
Also added to the Bronson wall was Bill Hilts, Jr. of Lockport, long time journalist for area newspapers since 1980 (and continues to be); hundreds of state, regional and national magazine features and columns; as well as book author and current television and radio show host. He was selected to the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame in 2007 and was named the Professional Conservationist of the Year for New York State by the New York State Conservation Council in 1997. He was also a past recipient of the Pinky Robinson Award in 1997. Hilts, Jr. is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Assn. and the Assn. of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. He is currently the Outdoor Promotions Director for Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. and the county’s Fishing Promotion Coordinator.
|2013 Niagara County
Federation Pays Tribute to Conservation Award
Annual Banquet Held Saturday April 5 2014
2012 Annual Banquet April 27 2013
| Inductees for Outdoor Hall of Fame
The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame has announced their slate of 2013 inductees and Western New York fared quite well. In fact, four of the seven being inducted came from Erie County, another from Wyoming County – pretty impressive. The Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to honoring sportsmen and women who have made significant achievements in outdoors-related fields. More importantly, they are recognized for their long-time service in preserving our outdoor heritage and helping others experience it. It’s not just about individual feats or accomplishments. It’s about leadership and carrying the torch for the hunting, fishing and conservation community.
In no specific order, here’s the selection:
1] Larry Becker, Gainesville – Becker is a longtime member of the National Wild Turkey Federation who has served the organization in many capacities, including state chapter president. He currently serves as chair of the New York State Sportsmen’s Advisory Council and is an active member of the Wyoming County Federation, the New York State Conservation Council. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Rifle Association. Through the years he has actively worked with youngsters in hunting and conservation.
2] Chuck Booker, West Amherst – Probably best noted for the fact that he holds over 50 line class world records from Niagara County streams, Booker was recognized for his work and dedication with the Town of Andover Wetlands Restoration Project. He assists the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association with their pen rearing project in Olcott and is the Western Region Director of the Lake Ontario Tributaries Anglers Council. He’s one of those guys always willing to lend a hand with a project or program, including donating his time by offering fishing trips as prizes.
3] Diane Maciejewski , Elma – She has been active in Erie County sportsmen’s organizations for 25 years, especially with Trout Unlimited as a secretary, president and delegate for 24 years. She was named Sportswoman of the Year by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, while working tirelessly in many other roles in support of conservation, fund-raising, stream improvement and education.
4] Frank Miskey, Sr., Elma – He has been involved with hunter education instruction for over 35 years and served as Hunter Education Coordinator. He has brought Project Childsafe to Erie County and been responsible for the distribution of thousands of gun locks free of charge. He has been active with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen and also Ducks Unlimited. He serves as superintendent of the Conservation Building at the Erie County Fair.
5] Art Segool, Orchard Park – Segool is an active and long-time member of the Erie County Conservation Society. As a certified hunter education instructor, he teaches hunter safety, archery and trapper education classes. In addition, he teaches hunter safety and ran the rifle range at Camp Hickory Hill in Western New York. This also includes shotgun and BB gun shooting programs.
6] Other inductees into the hall this year includes Greg O’Hara of Inlet, a licensed state guide and founder of the Central Adirondacks Search and Rescue Team; Stan Pascoo of West Nyack, hunter education instructor for many years in Rockland County and a person instrumental in the Wounded Warrior Program among other things.
The annual banquet and induction ceremony took place on April 27 2013 at the Rusty Rail Restaurant in Canastota starting at 5 p.m.
2011 - Annual Banquet held March 3 2012
|Falcone, Danaher, Two Wilson Clubs Lead
Senator Maziarz wins John B. Daly Award
By Bill Hilts Jr.
Federation Recognizes Conservation Leaders at Annual Banquet
The Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs held the group’s annual awards banquet Saturday night (March 3) at the 4-H Building of Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, an opportunity to recognize and thank the many leaders of the Conservation community as it relates to our natural resources, the shooting sports and general outdoor stewardship. It’s never an easy decision to make the selections for who will win a particular award, but remember that it’s all through a nomination process. Like the New York State Lottery, you have to be in it to win it!
Oliver Jones Memorial Award – Sportsperson of the Year: Rich Falcone of Lewiston
This year’s recipient has been around for a number of years, focusing mainly on the shooting sports. While his primary interest has been with the 3-F Club of Lewiston, his work has influenced shooters from around the state and Canada by arranging and running local, state and regional skeet shoots. He donates his time and equipment to assist the hunter safety training program at his club, as well as providing valuable assistance with the club’s Youth mentor pheasant hunt. As an NRA Certified Shotgun Instructor, he provides training to anyone who asks for it. He especially enjoys working with new shooters. This past year, he came up with his own fundraising effort by Shooting for a Cure – attempting to break 100 straight birds on the skeet field to help put a different kind of twist in the charity arena and raise money for Cancer. It put the shooting sports in a very positive light and helped out a very good cause in the process. He hopes to continue that effort in 2012.
Leroy Winn Memorial Award – Club of the Year: Wilson Conservation Club & Wilson Conservation Club Auxiliary.
When the final votes were tallied, the Federation opted to give out two awards rather than one. The Wilson Conservation Club has won this award before, quite recently we might add. Yes, they were the winner in 2010. In 2011, they didn’t sit on their laurels – they were very involved with a number of new events. At the top of the list was that this club came to the rescue for a couple of fishing related derbies that needed a site to host the first ever Wilson Ice Fishing Derby, as well as the first ever county bullhead contest. In addition to hosting a crossbow shooting league that is open to the public, they took their annual crossbow day and seminar to a new level in 2011 by attracting nearly 300 guests including 8 different crossbow manufacturers. This was all new stuff in addition to their normal tasks of sponsoring kids to summer DEC camp; hosting a kids fishing derby every June with over 150 kids; offering hunter education classes; raising pheasants; hosting 3-D archery shoots; and taking over the crossbow station at the Wildlife Festival.
At the same time, the Wilson Conservation Club Auxiliary was working side by side with the club that we were just talking about. They run the kitchen for all the special events out of this club and organize fund raisers to pay for the equipment. They are an important support mechanism for the main club, such as raising money for the kids fishing derby. Together they have put a float in the local parade and won the first prize. In addition to supporting the main club, they have also been supportive of the local community through Canine Helpers, Wyndham Lawn Home for Children, Wilson Free Library, Goodwill, Community Kitchens, Goby buckets for the Wilson Pier; adopt a highway program; tree and bush plantings; and much, much more. The two clubs BOTH earned the recognition this year.
Milford “Pinky” Robinson Memorial Award -- For dedication to the Great Lakes Fisheries: Tom Danaher of Waterport.
This year’s recipient is from the same mold as Robinson, doing many of the same things that Pinky had a passion for. He helps to educate future generations of anglers. As a long time charter captain, he was an ambassador for the fisheries to people who visited Niagara. He carried that expertise into numerous boards and meetings, serving on the Niagara County Fisheries Board (which he is still on) and Derby Board. He was the Lake Ontario Pro-Am weigh master for many years, not just in Niagara but for all four tournaments along the lake. He assists with the DEC stocking effort here and also is a tremendous support for the pen rearing project in Olcott. He was a derby judge for the Fish Odyssey; assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on an Atlantic salmon project; and he has worked with the county tourism office to promote the local fisheries at trade shows. He’s a great guy, too.
Carl Lass Memorial Award – Youth of the Year: Greg Laubacker of Newfane.
Laubacker is a youth that is passionate about shotgun shooting sports and the outdoors. This young man has worked hard over the years to achieve success in a sport he loves. His list of shooting accomplishments is long. His hard work and dedication paid off with a scholarship to Lindenwood University in Missouri, the number one collegiate shotgun shooting team in the country.
Steve Fountain/Archie Lowery Memorial Award – Bowhunter Safety Education: Rich “OK” Evans
Our recipient, who teaches both firearms and bow, has been known to travel around the county to assist with classes – from North Tonawanda to Appleton. His dedication and knowledge is worthy of the recognition.
James Reed/Donald Meyer Memorial Award – Firearms Hunter Safety: Doug Walck of Niagara Falls.
Walck is not only a NRA certified instructor in Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun, Muzzleloading Rifle and Home Firearm Safety but this nominee serves as an NRA Range Safety Officer. Dedicated to the shooting sports, safety is at the top of his list.
John Long, Sr. Memorial Award – Conservation Award for Top Business: Mike Perry, Ken Klino and Jim “Bruno” Burnett from Tails & Feathers Bird Hunting Preserve in Newfane. The operation is constantly supporting the Federation and area clubs for fund raising efforts.
Victor Fitchee Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Clark of Ransomville.
A lifetime of Conservation – that says it all. One of the best things about Clark is that he doesn’t just focus on conservation. This person has many other cross-over groups that he is involved with. As a true sportsman and conservationist, it’s good to have these people also involved with other special interest organizations to help tell the story of the outdoor fraternity. And, yes, this person can tell a good story, too. In the conservation arena, he’s been president of the Pioneer Conservation Sportsmen of Niagara County, is an active member of the Iroquois Arms Collectors Association and is an officer and member of Niagara County SCOPE. He was a past officer and director with the LaSalle Sportsmen’s Club and has been a mentor for the Niagara County Pheasant Program. He is a charter member of the American Crossbow Federation and the New York State Crossbow Hunters Association, to name but a few groups. He is the recipient of the Lions Vision Beyond Sight Humanitarian Service Award, as well as the recipient of the Robert J. Uplinger Distinguished Service Award in recognition for outstanding service to the district for his work with the Lions Club, Canine Helpers and president of the Pioneer Sportsmen. The list goes on. Nice going, Don!
The Ken Berner Memorial Conservation Award – For a person, family or organization dedicated to conservation: Victor DiGiacomo, Niagara County Soil and Water.
This year’s recipient brings a strong conservation ethic to the table that quite often stretches above and beyond the call of duty – a duty that calls from his regular job at Niagara County Soil and Water. He has been a dedicated servant to the residents of Niagara County and Western New York for a number of years – a hard worker, loyal and committed. He coordinated eight years with the Eighteen Mile Creek Remedial Action Plan, serving as coordinator to advance the plan and remediate the Area of Concern for the benefit to fish and wildlife, fishermen and other citizens who utilize the creek; he obtained funding and coordinated Phase 2 of the Eighteen Mile Creek Stream habitat project in Fisherman’s Park in Newfane; and he obtained funding for the Lake Ontario Outreach and Education Grant to actively engage residents, schools and communities in the implementation of the public education, outreach and community participation necessary to effectively administer the Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan.
President’s Award – John Butcher of Lockport.
Selected by 2011 President Chris Schotz of Sanborn, this year’s winner has worked diligently to promote the ideals and ideas of the Federation for many years. There were many obstacles that had to be overcome. This individual worked hard to overcome all of these adversities, keeping a positive approach. To make all this happen, countless hours were spent making contacts and promoting the Federation. Plus, taking care of his family and running a business. Because of John’s dedication to the Federation, they now have a Mobile Air Rifle Range, a Youth Mentor Clays League, and strong support from the Friends of the NRA in awarding grant money to many of our member organization.
Don Bronson Memorial Wall of Fame – Erwin “Bunny” Farber of Niagara Falls.
Farber was old School when it came to conservation. Serving on numerous natural resources and conservation-related boards and committees, he was recognized as Sportsman of the Year in Niagara County in 1976; and named New York State Conservationist of the Year in 1988. His greatest love was conservation and the protection of fish and wildlife for future generations. He passed away last fall, but he will long be remembered on the county’s Conservation Wall of Fame.
John Daly Award – Legislator of the Year: Sen. George Maziarz of
2010 Banquet held March 19 2011
Leaders Honored for Conservation Roles
By Bill Hilts Jr.
Each year, the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs
taking time out to do something very important – recognize those
individuals, clubs and businesses who are in the trenches making a
difference in the conservation movements. They are the people who are
true leaders, the future of our outdoor heritage and the reasons for
success in protecting and enhancing our natural resources. Each was
honored for their achievements at the annual awards banquet
held Saturday, March 19 at
Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport.
Lang was also inducted on to the Don Bronson Memorial
Conservation Wall of Fame, honoring local conservationists for their
Thanks for all you do!
Banquet held April 3 2010
|Federation Honors Conservation
Leaders of Niagara - 2009
By Bill Hilts Jr.
The Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs held their annual awards banquet, Saturday April 3 2010, recognizing conservation leaders for 2009, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. While the year might be 2009, the individuals, committees and organizations being honored have been doing this for a long, long time. They are the work horses, the people in the trenches getting the jobs done and preserving and protecting an outdoor heritage we all can enjoy today, while helping to guarantee a future in the great outdoors for the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen following in step.
Where do you start? You can’t slight anyone – this is a who’s who among the conservation ranks, the elite leaders that have already paved a path for many to follow. It’s only fitting that we recognize the lifelong ambassadors of the outdoors through something brand new in Niagara County – A Wall of Fame for conservationists, named after the late, great Don Bronson. Situated at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, this wall is designed for the dedication and service to the conservation movement and outdoor sporting fraternity, helping to preserve and protect our outdoor heritage for generations to come. The inductees for 2009 were William Mudge of Gasport, who recently passed on, and William R. Hilts (aka Bill, Sr.) of Sanborn who is still as active as he ever was.
Mudge was recognized “for his lifelong dedication to the American Conservation ethic and sportsman community, with his steadfast belief and respect for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; served in excellence, honor and patriotic integrity.” So the wall will read in his honor.
Hilts, Sr.’s wall notation will read: “A lifetime dedicated to raising the level of awareness of outdoor recreational opportunities and conservation issues in Niagara County, New York and the Country.” While we could go on and on with both Mudge and Hilts, this was a fitting tribute by the Federation to these elite leaders.
Leading right into the awards was the Victor Fitchlee Memorial Award for lifetime achievement and Mudge was recognized for that feat as well, an award that Hilts, Sr. received several years ago. Added to the list of notables this year was Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston. It’s safe to say that this person has become a legend of sorts when it comes to hunting and fishing circles around the country. Let’s start with the hunting end of things. His name is synonymous with turkeys -- but in a good way! He’s been talking turkey for nearly four decades, winning many calling contests along the way. He started working for Quaker Boy Game Calls in Orchard Park and is now the Director of Public Relations for that company. He’s always willing to give a talk or share his time, especially when kids are involved. As far as his fishing exploits, he’s been a lower Niagara River Charter captain for over 25 years and is considered one of the best in the business. Not only is he an ambassador of our fisheries, he is very giving of his time and energy as he does his best to pass on these traditions – starting with his own family. His son Nick is a chip off the old block – and it scares him!
The Oliver Jones Memorial Award is given out each year to the person recognized as the top outdoor sports person, the area’s conservationist of the year. The 2009 recipient was Joel Thomas of Appleton. This year’s winner is a perfect fit for what this award symbolizes. He has been a D.E.C. Firearms and Bow Safety Instructor for nearly 15 years, assuring the hunting traditions and the ethical responsibilities are a part of the process of this important education. Hundreds of young and old alike have benefited from this person’s witty presentation of the teaching material. He has always been an advocate of wise conservation techniques promoting the control of both predator and game animal populations alike through sportsmanlike hunting practices.
Showing the way by example, he is instrumental in training seminars introducing newcomers to firearms programs at North Forest Rod and Gun Club. His teaching style allows young and old to learn in a friendly environment without the fear of embarrassment. His many achievements never have overshadowed his interest or availability for volunteer work! He is a sought after speaker at schools and civic organizations and has been featured on the “The Why Guy” as well as daily television news and radio shows that aired his expertise and understanding of the dynamics of having humans and wild animals coexisting in an urban setting. He is also featured weekly on radio station 1230 am WECK where he answers questions concerning wildlife in urban settings. And speaking of answering questions about techniques for living with wildlife, he has authored a book that will soon be available to the general market. The title is “Creature Comforts.”
The Leroy Winn Memorial Award is the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Club’s special acknowledgement for Club of the Year. This year’s winner was the Twin City Shooting Club of North Tonawanda. At a time when our Second Amendment rights are being threatened, it’s important to have clubs like this to not only feed the sport, but also recruit new members to the shooting fraternity. They do the best they can with what they have to work with. The club’s modest shooting facilities belie its many varied and impressive contributions to the Western New York Community. As the club strives to enlarge programs for the young, as well as the experienced, this club continues to offer new opportunities for shooters in the safe and enjoyable recreational shooting sports arena. They are doing their part to ensure the long-term viability of the shooting sports in America. They have focused on the youth in a big way, developing interest and enthusiasm for junior rifle programs. In addition to working with NRA Qualification Awards, today’s juniors are participating in NRA sectional competitions, Junior Olympics and other local matches, as well as the National matches.
The Milford “Pinky” Robinson Award is an annual award handed out for an individual’s dedication to the Great Lakes fisheries. This year’s winner was Bob Cinelli of Newfane. There isn’t a better person in the county more deserving of this award from the standpoint of fisheries dedication. As an active member of the county’s Fisheries Development Board, the same board that Pinky served on, he’s represented fishing interests for well over two decades on this board. As a charter captain, he’s one of the senior members with over 30 years experience on the Great Lakes out of the port of Olcott and in the lower Niagara River. He also serves as chairman of the Niagara County Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament, an event he himself has elevated to new heights thanks to his leadership and guidance. He helps coordinate the Buffalo Sabres Spring Salmon Spectacular in Olcott each spring, raising money for charity, kids fishing programs and the local community. He also works hard to help generate additional funds for the various kids fishing derbies around the county which translates into fishing prizes for the kids.
The Carl Lass Memorial Award, symbolic for Youth of the Year in the conservation arena, went to Jeff Ventry, Jr. of Sanborn. This is an important award from the standpoint that these recipients are the future of our outdoor heritage. They carry the torch for the next generation of sportsmen. This year’s winner is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist. He is the member of the 3-F Club and has earned “Distinguished Expert” on the Junior Sporter Rifle Team. He shoots skeet on two different teams at two different clubs and at one was awarded the Youth High Gun. In the Jim Kelly Charity Shoot, he’s placed in the Top 3 two years in a row. As a student at Niagara Wheatfield High School, this 14 year old freshman is an active member of the Environmental Club and the Outdoor Club. He also performs many volunteer services in the community including working at registered skeet shoots, participating in road clean up efforts and taking part in tree planting projects.
The John Daly Memorial Award, remembering a former great state politician, is symbolic for the Legislator of the Year – and this year the federation recognized John Ceretto of Lewiston. The county legislator has been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights for Niagara County. A recent member of the NRA, this individual has co-authored and supported numerous resolutions to advance a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, often opposing legislation that may be pushed on a state level. This person works hard to facilitate recycling programs as chairman of the Refuse District and also works hard to protect our waterways through other committees.
The Ken Berner Memorial Conservation Award is given out each year to the person, family or organization dedicated to conservation. This year, the Federation is recognizing a 3-F Club committee, a special triumvirate that has dedicated themselves to a special focus – Pam Barber of Ransomville, Sherry Marsh of Model City and Kim Dorato of Niagara Falls. Their big effort involves future generations and their focus is on youth conservation camps and raising money to send them. To date, their total has exceeded $5,000, sending nearly 20 kids to camp just on their own efforts.
The President’s Award is typically given to a person or organization that has done something special in the conservation and sporting community, something really unique that is outside the norm of all the other federation awards. It was only fitting that this year’s honorees were the two people who spearheaded the Don Bronson Conservation Memorial Wall of Fame – Larry Koch of Appleton and Greg Tessmann of Gasport. Way to go, guys!
This year’s recipient of the James Reed/Donald Meyer Memorial Hunter Education Award for Firearms goes to a gentleman that can only be described as a really nice guy – Bryan Meahl of Appleton who operates out of North Forest Rod and Gun in Lockport. He always goes above and beyond the call of duty and his list of accomplishments is most impressive.
The Steve Fountain/Archie Lowery Memorial Award gives special recognition to an individual for dedication to bowhunter safety education and training went to Claus Leyder of Lewiston. This year’s recipient has been teaching at one of the Federation clubs for over 25 years. He has also given volunteer service at several other clubs in the county, such as Newfane Conservation and Seven Clan Bowmen.
The Winner of the John Long, Sr. Award for business person of the year went to Dave Erway of Buckeye Scents in Wilson. Erway, owner of several Niagara County businesses, if always giving of the use of his facilities and several local clubs regular meet at his lodge quarters. It was fitting that he was recognized for this prestigious award, remembering and old friend to conservation.
2008 Banquet held March 2009
By Bill Hilts, Jr.
The top conservationist of year was current
Federation president John Butcher of Lockport and the top club of
the year was the 3-F Club of Lewiston as the Niagara County
Federation of Conservation Clubs held their annual awards banquet at the
Tonawandas Sportsmen’s Club Saturday night March 29 2008 before a
crowd of about 150 people.
The Oliver Jones Memorial Award for the county’s top conservationist/sportsman went to Butcher for his hard work and dedication the last four years as president of the group. “When I took over as president, I asked myself what would my legacy be?” said Butcher. “If I could accomplish one thing, it would be to strengthen and create more youth shooting programs in the county.” He’s done that and more with the development of a portable shooting trailer, a scholastic clay youth program and more. He’s also a hunter safety instructor, a member of several sportsmen’s clubs and is also involved with the Friends of the NRA fund-raising banquet. Butcher runs a successful business, Summit Print and Mail, with his wife, Cookie.
The top club award, the Leroy Winn Memorial Award - a revolving trophy – went to the Fin-Feather-Fur Conservation Society (3-F Club) of Lewiston for all their hard work in 2007. They hosted a very successful Kelly for Kids program last summer and also supported many other fund raising efforts from wildlife rehabilitators to physically challenged people. They also helped with the shooting day of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, making it one of the most successful ever. They have hosted the Pheasants Forever youth hunt for ten years, showing a commitment to the future of hunting, shooting and other outdoor activities.
President's Award winners were a dynamic duo of shooting instructors selected by President Butcher for their hard work on developing a premier youth shooting program in the county. Doug Thompson of Wilson and Bryan Meahl of Appleton were both recognized by Butcher for their dedication and hard work with the Scholastic Sporting Clays Program locally and the fact that they produced a team of young shooters that place first in two different state divisions. They went on to finish seventh in the Nationals held in Texas in 2007.
Milford "Pinky Robinson Award - Paul McKeown, Region 9
Fisheries Manager for DEC, was named the 2007 recipient of the Milford
“Pinky” Robinson Award for dedication to the Great Lakes fisheries.
While McKeown has long been a friend of the sporting and conservation
community, McKeown’s efforts really stood out last year when a salmon
egg shortfall was realized and a secondary plan to collect eggs was
needed to supplement the state’s take at the Salmon River. He worked
nights and weekends to help bring the project to a conclusion. An
employee with DEC since 1984, he’s been the Region 9 Fisheries Manager
Top Conservationists for 2006
The Niagara County Federation of
Conservation Clubs paid tribute to the
The Oliver Jones Memorial Award for
the Conservationist of the Year went
take a look at Raechelle Ripley's Thank You Card
Every award has a different connotation, carrying its own meaning and level of importance. To say that one award means more than another would be wrong. Look at these awards as different categories - opportunities to recognize the workers that are in the trenches. It's the same trench, but each might have a different task. The end result is the same - the trench is dug. With shovel in hand, these were the 2005 Awards Winners as selected by the county's Federation - a group representing some 25 clubs and over 5,500 sportsmen in Niagara.
Oliver Jones Memorial Award. Symbolic of "sportsperson of the year," this year's winner is a man that exemplifies volunteerism - Bill Mudge of Gasport. He's a founding member of the Niagara Frontier Friends of the NRA and has served as the grants coordinator for upstate New York for the last three years. He's secretary of the Federation and is also active in the County's Shooters Committee for Political Education (SCOPE); Mudge is also an active member of the Iroquois Arms Collectors group and a staunch supporter of our Second Amendment rights.
Leroy Winn Memorial Award. Symbolic for club of the year, this award was handed out to North Forest Rod & Gun Club of Lockport. When most clubs are struggling to maintain a level of membership, this club increased by almost 20 percent the past year. The club opens its doors to the community for public shooting and they also run a youth education program that teaches conservation and the shooting sports. The club also hosted three major Federation events in 2005, including the annual picnic in July; the Annual Federation Shoot and the Annual Hunter Education Refresher Course.
Victor Fitchlee Memorial Lifetime Achievement Awards. Two awards were given out this year to recognize a lifetime full of dedication, hard work and perseverance. The first one was an outdoor writer in the Tonawanda and Lockport newspapers for over 40 years. He was Federation president for four years and was also a founding member of the Niagara County Fisheries Development Board. In addition to writing, he's also an accomplished photographer and a staunch advocate for conservation and Second Amendment rights. Ken Sprenger of North Tonawanda was who we're talking about. The second Fitchlee Award winner was Department of Environmental Conservation while biologist Jim Snider. Snider, who recently announced his retirement from the agency, has been situated in Region 9 (Western New York) for his entire career - a career that spans over four decades. A graduate of Syracuse ESF and Penn State, this individual is the go-to guy for deer in the region. At least, until now. By the way, his retirement dinner will be held on April 22nd in Blasdell. If you'd like to attend, contact the Region 9 offices of DEC at 851-7010.
Pinky Robinson Memorial Award. The person who gave the most to the Great Lakes sportfishing resource was Curt Meddaugh of Pendleton. Meddaugh, who is active with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) and sits on the county's Fisheries Development Board, is the main point person for the Olcott Pen Rearing Project that started up last year. Through Curt's leadership, the project became a success in its first year of operation.
Ken Berner Memorial Award. This special award recognizes person, family or organization dedicated to conservation. This year's winners were Carmen and Christie Presti of Niagara Falls, known for their work with Monkey Business and Charlie the Chimp, as well as their Primate Sanctuary. Not only do they donate time to projects like the Niagara River Anglers Pen Rearing Project or the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby, but they also lead the way for spearheading other projects. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the south, this family came forward to help local animal shelters raise funds for the animals left homeless and without families. This choice met with the Federation's "seal" of approval.
The President's Award. John Butcher of Lockport, the current president of the Federation, made a wise selection in recognizing Darcy Rae Tone of the Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District for all her hard work with the 6th Grade Environmental Field Days and much, much more. She's overseen the distribution of over a million tree seedlings, helped over 300 Niagara County landowners with pond management (including fish stocking) and organizes/administrates the Niagara-Orleans Environthon event, to name but a few things.
John Daly Memorial Award. This award goes to the legislator or elected official that's shown a sincere dedication to conservation or Second Amendment rights. This year's recipient was Niagara County Clerk Wayne Jagow, primarily for all his hard work in modernizing the county's pistol permit office - after seeking much advice from the Federation. He's also a former Deputy Sheriff and an ordained Lutheran minister.
Carl Lass Memorial Award. Symbolic of youth of the year, this year's recipient was Raechelle Ripley of Ransomville. The 15 year old Wilson High School student excels academically, as well as works hard in the field of conservation. In addition to participating in a wide variety of outdoor activities, she also makes time to participate in community activities. She won the top outstanding youth award for the local Lions Club, and was also the recipient of the Channel 7 Hometown Heroes Award. She also participated in the Olcott Lions Club Swim For Sight and raises money for other worthwhile programs, as well. Great job, Raechelle! Please take a look at Raechelle Ripley's Thank You Card HERE
Steve Fountain/Archie Lowery Memorial Award. This award goes out the person who best represents hunter safety training leadership with emphasis on archery instruction. This year's recipient was Don Bronson of Newfane - a person who could teach the whole hunter safety training course from start to finish. He's taught archery safety classes for over 25 years, bringing more than 2,500 bow hunters to the certification process. Last year, he was recognized by the Masonic Lodge as the recipient of the prestigious Douglas MacArthur Youth Leadership Award.
James Reed/Donald Meyer Memorial Award. This was is for hunter safety training leadership as it pertains to firearms instruction. This year's award winner was Stan Culverwell of Wilson. Culverwell has been a hunter safety training instructor for over 20 years and has also served as a trapper training instructor for 18 years. He's a master trapper instructor and a Nuisance Control Officer. Most importantly, he's always willing to teach others the ways of the great outdoors.
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Area conservation leaders were honored for the work they
NIAGARA COUNTY'S TOP CONSERVATIONISTS
Jones Memorial Award (Sportsperson of the Year) .....Doug
Walck Iroquois Arm Association / 3F Club
BE SURE TO CHECK
BACK FOR PHOTOS
It's that time of year again for the Niagara County Federation of
Conservation Clubs to issue a call for nominations for their annual
awards program - an opportunity to recognize conservation leaders who've
been protecting and enhancing our natural resources in 2003 and before.
The Oliver Jones Memorial Award for Sportsperson of the Year; the Leroy
Winn Memorial Award for Club of the Year; the Carl Lass Memorial Award
for Youth of the Year or person involved with a youth program; the John
Daly Memorial Award for Legislator of the Year; the Pinky Robinson
Memorial Award for dedication to the Great Lakes fisheries; several
hunter safety training awards and a family award … a chance to give thanks for a job well done.
FEDERATION OF CONSERVATION CLUBS
NOMINATIONS FORM FOR 2006 CONSERVATION AWARDS
Oliver Jones Memorial Award (Sportsperson of the
Leroy Winn Memorial Award (Club of the Year)______________________________
Carl Lass Memorial Award (Youth of the Year)_______________________________
Milford “Pinky” Robinson Memorial Award
(Dedication of Great Lakes Fisheries)______________________________________
James Reed/Donald Meyer Memorial Award
(Dedication to Hunter SafetyTraining)______________________________________
Steve Fountain/Archie Lowery Memorial Award
(Dedication to Bowhunter Education/Training)_______________________________
Ken Berner Memorial Conservation Award
(Person, family or organization dedicated to conservation)______________________
John Daly Memorial Award for Legislator of the Year
(Any type of elected or appointed official dedicated to conservation)______________
Make additional copies of this form as needed.
Please include other documentation on the back of this sheet or on a
separate sheet and return to Bill Hilts, Jr. at 5816
Buffalo Street, Sanborn, NY 14132 by very early March or e-mail
nomination to [email protected] by that
date. Please honor the people in
your club or people you work with to recognize their efforts for the wise use of
our natural resources.
You can never send in too much information on someone and someone can’t be recognized if you don’t nominate him or her. Anyone can send in a nomination!
Comments (past history of club or individual, including
special projects, years involved, special awards,
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