Agency Citizen Awards honor commitments to conservation, education and volunteerism
It started with a letter and public statement to an official at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that simply said, “I am four years old. I do not want lead sinkers in loons.”
Now Madeline Ashmore of Okanogan County is an eighth-grade student, still working to protect loons from lead poisoning. She was recognized today as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Citizen Educator of the Year.
Madeline has worked alongside others to have lead banned in loon nesting lakes, and to educate the public on the alternatives to lead in fishing gear. Madeline has sold loon-themed greeting cards and cookies, dressed as a loon for Halloween, and encouraged the sale of lead-free tackle at local businesses to support her education efforts.
Recently she presented hundreds of dollars of tackle to the agency and the US Forest Service as part of a presentation she provided at the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, “Highland Wonders” lecture series. Ashmore’s award recognizes the drive, determination and care that she has shown for protecting wild birds and the natural world.
The agency also recognized a variety of other organizations and individuals for their volunteer efforts:
The Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association earned the Organization of the Year award for 70 years of support for wildlife, fish and recreation in North Central Washington. Their contributions are wide and varied in scope and scale and in terms of dollars and volunteer hours. The association has worked to build and fix fences, plant shrubs after wildfires, conduct wildlife surveys, develop kid’s fishing events, and process seized meat from poachers to provide for local charitable organizations.
Volunteers of the year, Russ Lewis and the Ness brothers, Chris, John and Ken, took home awards for amazing commitment to the work of the agency and conservation.
Russ Lewis, year-after-year has volunteered his time, sometimes up to 50 hours per week to clean a seven mile stretch of ocean on the Long Beach Peninsula in areas that are important to razor clams, raptors, snowy plovers, deer, elk and bear.
Russ collects up to 7–8 tons of trash using his personal vehicle, and regularly communicates what he finds to a group of more than 50 interested members of the marine science community on the west coast, Hawaii and Japan.
The Ness brothers — all Master Hunters from Castle Rock — volunteered more than 600 hours of their engineering skills and craftsmanship to build 46 crates for transporting mountain goats and other wildlife for the department. Some of the crates were custom built to reduce stress on nannies with kids or to provide extra space for large billy goats.
Dave Morrow, of Snohomish, took home the Landowner of the Year award for his work with WDFW, the Yakama Nation and Washington Conservation Corps to utilize wood thinned and donated from his land to build habitat for fish and other wildlife.
His contributions — including restoration work on his own land and donation of more than 100 trees for use in Yakima River restoration projects — as well as his tireless work to explain the benefits of stewardship to friends, family and neighbors earned him the award.
A clear win for conservation, Dave Morrow’s backyard has been transformed to provide habitat for steelhead — which recently spawned on his property for perhaps the first time in 30 years.
Bob Palmer received the Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award for his contributions as a hunter education instructor. Palmer helped certify 166 hunter education students, and assisted in pre-service training for four new instructors. His fundraising efforts led to purchase of a new Laser Shot shooting simulation system for use in classes as well as outreach events, and protective gear. The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.
Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 65,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2018. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page.