Resource Stewardship

Governors Conservation Achievement Awards

The Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards are the most prestigious conservation awards in the state. For over 30 years, the awards have been presented to individuals and organizations that make great contributions to the conservation of our wildlife and related natural resources, the natural elements upon which all life depends.
The purpose of the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards program is to promote leadership by example and in turn increase conservation of the natural resources of the State of Alabama – its wildlife, forests, soils, water, and air. The program is designed to bring about a greater knowledge and awareness of conservation practices and projects, and to give proper recognition to those persons and organizations that make outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of the community and the state.

CONSERVATIONIST OF THE YEAR - For an individual who has excelled in an overall conservation effort, in environmental achievements, or other significant contribution to the conservation of natural resources.
WILDLIFE CONSERVATIONIST - To recognize private individuals, professionals, clubs, firms or agency staff whose outstanding wildlife resource conservation efforts demonstrate commitment and leadership.
FISHERIES CONSERVATIONIST - To recognize an individual or organization whose outstanding fisheries resource conservation efforts demonstrate commitment and leadership.

FOREST CONSERVATIONIST - For an individual, group, firm or agency which has demonstrated outstanding leadership in management of forest resources. Fish and wildlife consideration must have been a major component in the recognized effort.

LAND CONSERVATIONIST - To recognize an individual or organization which has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the land conservation arena, including soil resource conservation, watershed planning/management, and/or landscape level conservation efforts.

WATER CONSERVATIONIST - For outstanding contribution to water resource conservation, whether surface water, ground water or wetlands. Efforts focusing on protection and improvement of water quality are especially important.

AIR CONSERVATIONIST - To recognize outstanding efforts of an individual, group, firm, or agency toward improvement of air quality in Alabama.
CONSERVATION EDUCATOR - For outstanding contribution by a professional or volunteer, classroom teacher or scout troop leader, firm, or organization to conservation education, whether in the classroom or by other means. The scope of the effort and its effectiveness are of major consideration.
CONSERVATION COMMUNICATOR - To recognize the outstanding efforts of a journalist or media firm in communicating the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s conservation message to the general public.

CONSERVATION ENFORCEMENT OFFICER - For outstanding performance in enforcement of laws to protect Alabama’s natural resources. Must be a duly authorized officer of the law, and enforcement activity may be related to fish and wildlife, littering, or environmental laws or regulations.
LEGISLATIVE CONSERVATIONIST - For demonstration of an outstanding commitment to conservation and stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources in legislative matters.
JUDICIAL CONSERVATIONIST - For demonstration of an outstanding commitment to natural resource conservation, fish and wildlife, or land, air and water; and a significant contribution to conservation of those resources through judicial action.
HUNTER SAFETY INSTRUCTOR - For outstanding commitment and service to hunter education and safety instruction.

YOUTH CONSERVATIONIST - For outstanding achievement by a youth, having not reached the age of 19 at the time of nomination, in resource conservation. Accomplishments may include, but need not be limited to on-the-ground projects for conservation of fish, wildlife habitat, air, soil, forest or water. Efforts in the field of public awareness, communication and education are also eligible for recognition.
2015 Governor's Conservation Achievement Award Recipients

Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year
Norman Morrison, Oxford

Since obtaining his Hunter Education Instructor certification in 1984, Norman Morrison has been a valuable asset to the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and to the state of Alabama. His dedication to the advancement of hunter education is unsurpassed. For decades Norman has taken great strides to disseminate hunter education programs to the public and has made it his life’s work to ensure the public is properly educated about hunter safety. 

Norman has taught thousands of students over the last 30 years, often utilizing his own materials in the classroom. His specialty is muzzleloading, but Norman’s contributions to this field are immeasurable. Over the years, Norman has traveled to assist in field days, expos and treestand safety workshops for the Alabama Hunter Education Association. In addition, Norman serves as the webmaster for the Alabama Hunter Education Association website and volunteers his time providing free tech support for the site. Norman’s love for hunting and passion for teaching are evident to everyone who meets him. 
Conservation Enforcement Officer of the Year
Officer Drake Hayes, Eldridge

Currently assigned to Walker County in District I, Officer Drake Hayes exemplifies the strength, character and high degree of self-motivation required to succeed in conservation law enforcement. He serves as conservation Enforcement Officer with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

Throughout his career Officer Hayes has worked diligently to patrol and enforce Alabama’s Game, Fish and Wildlife Laws and Regulations. In 2014 Officer Hayes led statewide with a total of 252 arrests and warnings. He has nearly a 100% conviction rate, with fines and court costs totaling over $27,000. His dedication to enforcing conservation laws designed to ensure public safety while protecting our precious natural resources for future generations is unsurpassed.

In addition to his professional duties in Walker County, Officer Hayes readily participates in outreach programs such as youth dove hunts, Archery in the Schools Program and kids fishing events. He is also a certified Hunter Education Instructor and teaches numerous classes each year. 
Legislative Conservationist of the Year
Representative Reed Ingram, Montgomery and Congressman Bradley Byrne, Fairhope

Representative Reed Ingram is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, and proudly provides legislative leadership on behalf of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources. 

Ingram was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2014. As a freshman representative he quickly engaged on wildlife and related natural resource matters important to Alabama. Understanding that feral hogs are a huge problem in Alabama and across the United States, causing more than $1.5 billion in damages, Representative Ingram sponsored a bill to increase dramatically the fines for illegal transportation of feral hogs. The bill increased fines five-fold from $500 or less to a minimum of $2500. He was successful in shepherding this bill through the House, and getting it passed in Senate Committee before last minute political conflicts prevented it from coming up for a final vote. 

We look forward to working with Representative Ingram again next year to pass this important piece of conservation legislation.

Congressman Bradley Byrne is a long-time Alabama Wildlife Federation member and active supporter of wildlife and our outdoor resources. 

Over the last year Congressman Byrne has continued his efforts to alleviate provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act that prevent sound and scientific state-level management of the red snapper fishery, and have debilitating effects on recreational fishing and the economic impact it brings to local communities. Earlier this year he introduced the Red Snapper Regulatory Reform Act which seeks to repeal inflexible quotas for the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper fishery, extend state water boundaries for each Gulf state to nine nautical miles, and give jurisdiction for data collection and stock assessments to the Marine Resource agencies of the five Gulf Coast States. 

Two months ago, on June 1st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Byrne Amendments as part of the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. 
We look forward to working with Representative Byrne and our U.S. Senators to seek like passage in the Senate. 
Conservation Communicator of the Year
Dr. Jim Armstrong, Auburn

Dr. Jim Armstrong is an Alabama Extension Wildlife Scientist and a Professor of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. Dr. Armstrong also served as chairman of the Wildlife Society’s Wildlife Damage Management Working Group, where he worked with other wildlife scientists throughout the world to pioneer the emerging discipline of wildlife damage management, an increasing challenge associated with urban spillover into wildlife habitats. His efforts in this field have conferred immeasurable benefits to Alabamians. 

One of Dr. Armstrong’s most notable achievements is his contributions towards the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP), both at national and state levels. WHEP is a comprehensive educational program that teaches young people decision-making skills through the medium of wildlife management. Dr. Armstrong contributed to the WHEP training manual, presented more than 300 WHEP programs across the state, and coordinated numerous training workshops across the country. 

Dr. Armstrong has also served on the Planning Committee for the Berryman Wildlife Institute, whose mission is to promote and fund research and education activities associated with wildlife damage management. In addition, he oversees graduate studies aimed at helping wildlife professionals develop effective strategies to address the detrimental effects associated with coyote population expansion. Throughout Dr. Armstrong’s career he has made a vast contribution to the state and our nation. 
Conservation Educator of the Year
April Waltz, Huntsville

April Waltz joined the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) staff in 1997. During that time she has served in a variety of roles including Managing Editor of Alabama Wildlife magazine, Cook-off Coordinator for North Alabama, webmaster, and the list goes on. Today, she serves as AWF’s Alabama Outdoor Classroom Coordinator.

In 2001, utilizing a $10,000 seed grant from the Alabama Power Foundation AWF started developing what is known today as the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program. This program provides technical advice and assistance to schools who wish to create a sustainable outdoor classroom site that can be utilized to connect youth with the outdoors while reinforcing core educational concepts in math, science, social studies, and language arts. In 2003, AWF launched the pilot phase and welcomed partners with Discovering Alabama, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Forestry Commission, and many more. A year later, 40 schools were enrolled in the program. Today, over 325 schools around the state are enrolled in the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program; 52 of those schools have been inspected and awarded the title of “Certified Alabama Outdoor Classroom.”

Throughout this journey April Waltz has been the architect for the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program and key elements such as: Alabama Outdoor Classroom Expo, Alabama Outdoor Classroom Grants Program, Conservation Education Connection Enewsletter, Outdoor Classroom Build Days, Outdoor Classroom Learning Stations, and on and on. 

Thanks to April’s efforts and the collaboration with Alabama Outdoor Classroom Partners all across this state, 50,000+ students engage in outdoor hands-on learning activities in Alabama Outdoor Classrooms on an annual basis.
Conservation Organization of the Year
Freshwater Land Trust, Birmingham

The Freshwater Land Trust strives to protect the places that matter most to Alabamians, so they can pass along their rich, unique and natural heritage to future generations.  Founded in 1996, Freshwater Land Trust has spent nearly two decades successfully acquiring, conserving, and connecting lands throughout the state that protect critical habitats while providing recreational opportunities for our citizens. They own and manage more than 5,000 acres of land, making them one of the largest owners of private nature preserves in the state of Alabama. 

Freshwater Land Trust also has strong working relationships and partnerships with numerous stakeholders, as can be seen by their accomplishments throughout the state. They worked with the Rotary Club of Birmingham and other local partners on the establishment of the Rotary Trail, a four block greenway located in the heart of downtown Birmingham. They also worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Old Shadow Lake Dam removal project on Turkey Creek, eliminating an environmental hazard while working to provide suitable habitat for the endangered vermilion darter. They also played vital roles in the creation of Red Mountain Park, Five Mile Creek Greenway, the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Freshwater Land Trust proves again and again that collaborative partnerships can mutually benefit the environment and the economy. 
Air Conservationist of the Year
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Vance

Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI), located in Tuscaloosa County, has an annual output of over 300,000 vehicles with exports to over 135 countries. Their plant capacity has expanded by 20% in the past year to accommodate an increase in production demand. Even as MBUSI expands, they are a leader in environmental conservation efforts. MBUSI continuously strives to exceed environmental air quality standards.

MBUSI implements numerous sustainability initiatives at their facility. In a demonstration of their passion towards environmental stewardship, MBUSI sought to reduce the emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds and Hazardous Air Pollutants by installing thermal oxidizer units utilized to capture and destroy the volatile organic compounds which are a byproduct of production. In addition to reducing emissions, the thermal oxidizer units recover and recirculate heat back to the process oven. This process of heat recovery has reduced the amount of natural gas required for processes at the facility by over 40%. In addition, MBUSI is certified under the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard with zero non-conformities. The plant is a “Zero Waste to Landfill” certified manufacturer, meaning all of the waste from the plant is recycled or turned into energy…nothing is sent to landfills. MBUSI demonstrates an outstanding commitment to their community and the environment. 
Soil Conservationist of the Year
Steve Cauthen, Lapine

Steve Cauthen has worked across the state of Alabama promoting soil conservation for more than three decades. He has served as the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee’s Executive director for 28 years. During this time he led Alabama’s 67 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, ensuring the most efficient use and care of our soil and water resources.

Steve has continuously proven himself as a champion in promoting new conservation projects and practices. He has managed numerous collaborative efforts across the state, resulting in a steady improvement of Alabama’s soil resources. During Steve’s tenure, erosion rates declined by nearly half, saving millions of tons of topsoil and reducing damaging sediment downstream. Steve played vital roles in the creation of the Professional Soils Classifiers Advisory Council, which certifies professional soil scientists in Alabama. Steve is also a strong proponent of Alabama’s Cooperative Soil Survey, leading state efforts to support the completion of soil surveys in all 67 counties in Alabama. 

Steve is a true leader in the promotion of soil conservation. He was inducted as a member of the 2014 National Association of Conservation Districts’ Southeast Region Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime work and contribution to conservation. He has also served as President of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies. 
Water Conservationist of the Year
Birmingham Rotary Club

The Birmingham Rotary Club wanted to leave a lasting gift to the city of Birmingham in celebration of their 100 year anniversary. Their dedication to promoting greenways that benefit their community while enhancing natural environments led to an idea that is quickly becoming a reality. 

The Club partnered with the Freshwater Land Trust to create The Rotary Trail in the heart of downtown Birmingham. When completed in Summer 2016, the trail will encompass a four block, linear park greenway in the old historical railroad cut between north and south Birmingham. It will expand upon the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System. The Rotary Trail was once an abandoned rail line and a water waste land, draining toxic materials directly into Valley Creek. Aside from obvious aesthetic and recreational benefits, the trail will also serve to filter sediment, oil, pollution and other street runoff before stormwater flows into Valley Creek…ultimately preventing these pollutants from entering drinking water sources in the Cahaba River. 

Birmingham Rotary Club members have raised $4.5 million for the Rotary Trail and partnered with numerous local stakeholders to make their dream a reality. The Rotary Trail will be a tremendous asset to Birmingham, and demonstrates Birmingham Rotary Club’s commitment to their community and the protection of the natural environment of the city. 
Forest Conservationist of the Year
Tommy Lawler, Camden

Tommy Lawler developed a love of the land at 10 years old, when his father introduced him to Wilcox County’s Grampian Hills. Since that time Tommy’s passion for the land has grown, as he has continuously purchased land in the area, parcel by parcel. Tommy opened Lawler Timber Company in the early 90s. He now manages thousands of acres, helping large and small land owners grow marketable timber. Today Tommy is an accomplished businessman in the Timber Industry and a highly respected individual in his community. 

A portion of Tommy’s land is the only place outside of the Red Hills Region where the presence of the Red Hills Salamander is confirmed. Biologists from throughout the country visit the land to study this endangered species. Tommy’s land is also home to 21 species of ferns, seven state champion trees and a single holly bush that attracts the likes of botanists from around the world. Tommy teaches that habitat preservation and timber management do not have to be mutually exclusive, which is evident to anyone who has the pleasure to visit his land. In 2000 Lawler created the “James Thomas Lawler Outdoor Classroom”, dedicated to his father. This outdoor education center provides natural resource and educational opportunities for local schools. 
Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
Fred Pringle, Jackson

For nearly half a century Fred has dedicated his life to the preservation of Alabama’s rich hunting heritage. Fred Pringle began his career with the Alabama Game and Fish Division in 1965. For more than 40 years Fred has worked at, and eventually managed, the Fred T. Stimpson Wildlife Sanctuary. 

During his expansive career Fred trapped and relocated turkey and deer, served as a law enforcement officer, a timber marketer, carpenter, farmer, and a prescribed burner. He also coordinated youth hunts at the Sanctuary and served as a mentor for young biologists. Fred’s roles were numerous, and his influence even greater. Alabama’s turkey and deer populations have flourished thanks to Fred Pringle’s career with the Alabama Game and Fish Division. Eastern wild turkey populations were at their lowest when Fred began his career. Thanks to his dedication to restocking, these species are now thriving. Fred was involved in the trap and transfer efforts of more than 2,000 turkeys across Alabama. Fred also played a role in the recovery of deer populations in Alabama, trapping and restocking more than 700 deer from the Fred T. Stimpson Wildlife Sanctuary. Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts in Alabama have Fred Pringle to thank for sustainable deer and turkey populations. 
Conservationist of the Year
Patricia J. “Patti” Powell, Montgomery

Patricia “Patti” Powell serves as Director of State Lands at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). She is an advocate for Alabama’s natural resources and works with a focus to protect, conserve, enhance and restore the natural resources of Alabama. Patti performs a broad range of property management activities related to State-owned land, including Alabama Forever Wild. She is charged with maintaining current and historic data of the natural wonders of Alabama through the Natural Heritage Program. She assists in maintaining the Lands Resources Information and handles the sales and leasing of surplus state lands. Patti also manages approximately 600,000 acres of submerged lands that includes statewide navigable waters bottoms, coastal bays and offshore state waters. 

Patti’s support for the stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources is unwavering. She oversees the 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center, Weeks Bay National Estuarine Reserve and Wehle Land Conservation Center. These facilities are all dedicated to conservation and land stewardship. She also oversees the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trail Area, dedicated to sporting dog field trials, habitat restoration and hunting programs for youth and those with physical disabilities. 

Patti has provided vital leadership to ADCNR in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She goes above and beyond the responsibilities of her job to benefit the state of Alabama. Patti has taken on numerous Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) responsibilities pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act. She participates in Trustee Council meetings, assesses resource impacts, conducts public meetings soliciting comment on potential restoration actions, assists with development of restoration plans and implements projects designed to restore natural resources impacted by the spill. 

Patti also serves on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council. In addition, Patti secured approximately $130 million in funding for numerous projects through the NRDA process. In the past year Patti has implemented more than $30 million of U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Coastal Impact Assistance Plan program grant funds. On behalf of the Forever Wild Land Trust, Patti has acquired more than 50 tracts since 2009, providing an additional 100,000 acres of public access and habitat conservation. She also launched an online interactive map providing information to the public about opportunities to enjoy recreational offerings on Forever Wild and other public lands. Patti has developed 35 miles of biking trails on the Doug Ghee Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Nature Preserve and Recreation Area, a premier biking destination in the Southeast. She also coordinated the 27th Annual Coastal Cleanup event, resulting in 5,000 volunteers removing over 55,000 pounds of marine debris.

Patricia Powell’s career reflects a history of an unyielding respect for and commitment to the conservation of our state’s natural resources. 
A special thanks to all of our sponsors!

Presenting Sponsors

Alabama Power

Table Sponsors
Consolidated Construction Company
Consolidated Pipe & Supply Co., Inc.
First South Farm Credit
Josh and Mary Virginia Mandell
Talladega Superspeedway
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