Sixteen Division of Wildlife Resources employees were honored recently for their work to help UtahвЂ™s wildlife. The employees received their honors at the divisionвЂ™s Annual Awards Banquet. The banquet was held Sept. 7 at Gardner Village in West Jordan.
Three awards from DWR Director Jim Karpowitz were among the awards presented that night.
Employee of the Year
After 33 years of outstanding and dedicated service, Ron Hodson will retire on Sept. 16. But heвЂ™ll leave the DWR with a nice going-way present — the Employee of the Year Award.
The award is given annually to the agencyвЂ™s outstanding employee. Even though heвЂ™s a resident of Syracuse, hunters and anglers in southeastern Utah know Hodson well. He spent 29 years in that part of the state.
Hodson started his career as a conservation officer. In addition to protecting the stateвЂ™s wildlife by enforcing the stateвЂ™s wildlife laws, Hodson helped sportsmen and wildlife in southeastern Utah by transplanting big game animals, stocking fish and helping with habitat projects.
After serving several years as an enforcement officer, Hodson transitioned into a wildlife biologist position. Increasing the number of bison on the Henry Mountains and the number of mule deer on the Henry and Manti mountains are among his greatest accomplishments. Under his leadership, the number of bighorn sheep throughout southeastern Utah also increased.
Karpowitz, who served in the region with Hodson, said вЂњitвЂ™s impressive to compare what is there now to how things were 33 years ago.вЂќ
After 29 years of service, Hodson moved to northern Utah to lead the agencyвЂ™s Northern Region as its supervisor. HeвЂ™s served as the regional supervisor in northern Utah for the past four years.
вЂњYou brought new energy to the region and showed the entire agency what can happen when leadership creates confident, competent people who own their performance,вЂќ Karpowitz said. вЂњUnder your direction, the employees in the Northern Region transformed themselves into a highly productive, innovative team.вЂќ
DirectorвЂ™s Outstanding Service Award
As the DWRвЂ™s private lands/public wildlife coordinator, Boyde Blackwell has a tough job — balancing the needs of wildlife and public hunters and anglers with the needs of private landowners. And he does his job cheerfully, professionally and with a smile.
As he presented the Centerville resident with the DirectorвЂ™s Outstanding Service Award for 2011, Karpowitz highlighted two reasons Blackwell received the award:
- The work heвЂ™s done to open more private land to public hunters and anglers through UtahвЂ™s Walk-In Access program.
Recently, a new program under the federal Farm Bill gave states an opportunity to obtain federal funding to open even more private land to public hunters.В Utah was one of the few states to receive any of that money.
вЂњYour dedication in participating in the national discussions and preparing our application resulted in Utah receiving a $2.1 million award when many states came up empty,вЂќ Karpowitz said.В вЂњThis money has allowed the division to greatly expand our Walk-In Access program and provide more places for hunters and anglers to [hunt and fish on]
- The leadership Blackwell showed, as he added more work to his already busy schedule by serving as the acting chief of the agencyвЂ™s Wildlife Section until a new chief could be found, was noted too.
DirectorвЂ™s Leadership Award
Mike Canning exemplifies what it means to be a great leader. For that reason, Canning, a resident of West Jordan and chief of the agencyвЂ™s Habitat Section, received the DirectorвЂ™s Leadership Award for 2011.
вЂњYou have exhibited exemplary leadership ability as the Habitat Section chief,вЂќ Karpowitz said. вЂњThe consistently high performance of your employees is a direct result of the leadership you provide.вЂќ
Karpowitz also pointed out several major habitat projects where Canning has helped lead the way.В For example, UtahвЂ™s Watershed Restoration Initiative is the largest effort in the nation to improve wildlife habitat. Through CanningвЂ™s efforts and leadership, the project continues to move forward despite funding challenges several of the DWRвЂ™s partners are facing.
But the massive Watershed Restoration Initiative isnвЂ™t the only important project where CanningвЂ™s leadership abilities have helped.
вЂњYour willingness to be a team player is, once again, evidenced by the way you embraced the mule deer initiative, helped implement the NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative, and participated in several U.S. Forest Service planning efforts,вЂќ Karpowitz said. вЂњRespectively, these efforts will benefit the DWR [and UtahвЂ™s wildlife] for years to come by proactively dealing with wildlife/highway mortality, staving off Endangered Species Act listings, and improving the way management/policy decisions are made.вЂќ
Additional DirectorвЂ™s Office awards
Karpowitz also presented Paul Briggs with the 2011 Kevin Conway Habitat Conservation Award. Briggs is the chairman of the Utah Partners for Conservation and Development team in southwestern Utah.
DirectorвЂ™s Partnership awards were also presented to Tom Wharton, outdoor reporter and editor at The Salt Lake Tribune, John Harja, director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office and a member of the Western GovernorвЂ™s Wildlife Council, and Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.
The following were honored by DWR sections as their outstanding employee for 2011:
Administrative Services – Karen Caldwell, information specialist
Aquatic – Alan Ward, lead aquatic biologist at Strawberry Reservoir
Conservation Outreach – Mark Martinez, Web developer
Fish Culture – Zane Olsen, supervisor of the Wahweap State Fish Hatchery
Habitat – Morgan Williams, habitat maintenance specialist in the Central Region
Law Enforcement – Holly Betteridge, executive secretary
Wildlife – Justin Dolling, migratory game bird and upland game coordinator
The following were honored as the DWRвЂ™s outstanding regional employees for 2011:
Central – Chris Crockett, native aquatic species biologist
Northeastern – Calvin Black, wildlife biologist
Northern – Val Bachman, manager of the Ogden Bay, Howard Slough and Harold Crane waterfowl management areas
Southeastern – Justin Shannon, wildlife manager
Southern – Blaine Cox, volunteer services coordinator
Utah Wildlife Board awards
Ernie Perkins, vice-chairman of the Utah Wildlife Board, also presented two awards from the board.
Ashley Green, the DWR Lands and Central Utah Project coordinator for the DWR, received the boardвЂ™s DWR Professional of the Year award.
Habitat Council member Michael Christensen received the boardвЂ™s Conservation Individual of the Year award.