NJ’s Joseph Garris Honored for Conserving the Wild Turkey

NJ’s Joseph Garris Honored for Conserving the Wild Turkey
Joseph Garris was honored with the prestigious Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award at the NWTF’s Convention and Sport Show.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – -(OutdoorWire.com)- Joseph Garris, a senior wildlife technician with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW), was honored with the prestigious Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show held Feb. 19 to Feb. 22 in Nashville, Tenn.

The award is named after Joe Kurz, a former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief, for his leadership and the vital role he played in improving wildlife management. Kurz was also a principal figure in the wild turkey trap and transfer program across North America.

The Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award recognizes wildlife managers who have worked untiringly for the wild turkey and its habitat. Wildlife managers, such as Garris, are the unsung heroes who do the on-the-ground work for wild turkeys and other wildlife.

Garris has worked for more than 30 years on a variety of projects to help NJDFW manage and improve habitat for the wild turkey and countless other species of wildlife. He has helped trap and relocate more than 1,500 wild turkeys in his career, providing birds for more than 40 release sites in New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois and Ontario, Canada.

“I’ve been doing my job for 32 years, but it doesn’t seem like that long because I enjoy the work so much,” Garris said. “My expectation wasn’t to win an award for doing what I’ve felt I should be doing over the years, but I’m honored and feel privileged to be recognized for doing the job I love.”

According to former co-worker, NWTF Biologist Bob Eriksen, Garris is skilled in all aspects of wildlife management from banding waterfowl to trapping furbearing mammals and from planting food plots to rebuilding tractors and trucks. In his spare time, Garris is an avid archer and excellent turkey hunter. One of his notable talents is his ability to recognize, by genus and species, the name of virtually every tree, shrub, vine and wildflower that one can encounter in New Jersey.

“Joseph Garris is a prime example of going beyond the call of duty,” said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., NWTF’s chief conservation officer. ”Garris is not only a talented wildlife technician, but also a great NWTF volunteer and a dedicated family man. New Jersey’s turkey hunters are lucky to have him working on their behalf.”

Garris lives in Stillwater, N.J. He and his wife, Diana, are raising nine children, and all of them, boys and girls, are turkey hunters.

Since 1985,the NWTF’s New Jersey chapters have raise more than $420,000 for in-state projects. This includes more than $128,000 on habitat projects and improving more than 5,262 acres.

For more information about the Joe Kurz Award or the NWTF’s annual Convention and Sport Show, call (803) 637-3106, visit www.nwtf.org or call (800) THE-NWTF.

2009 Convention Sponsors
Bank of America, Bass Pro Shops, Browning, Call Makers and Collectors Association of America, Chevrolet, Crescent Cardboard Co., LLC, Federal Premium Ammunition, Foxy Huntress, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Knight Rifles, Leupold & Stevens, Longleaf Camo, Marlin Firearm/H&R 1871 LLC, Mathews Bows, Inc., MeadWestvaco, Motorola, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Band and Tag, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., Outdoor Channel, The Outdoor Connection, Inc., Remington Arms Company, Inc., S.C. State Chapter, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Tennessee State Chapter, The Sportsman Channel, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Weatherby, Inc., Weyerhaeuser, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Winchester Olin

About the NWTF: In 1973, Tom Rodgers founded the National Wild Turkey Federation in Fredericksburg, Va., as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization with a mission dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting traditions. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers relocated the NWTF to Edgefield, S.C., where it’s still headquartered today.

At the time NWTF was established, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America, thanks to the efforts of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members and partners.

Growth and progress define the NWTF as it has expanded from 1,300 members in 1973 to nearly a half million today. With that growth has come impressive strides in wildlife management as the NWTF has forged dynamic partnerships across the country to further its conservation mission. Together, the NWTF’s partners, sponsors and grassroots members have raised and spent more than $286 million upholding hunting traditions and conserving nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat.

While wild turkey restoration is nearing completion, the NWTF still has much work to do. Across North America, supporters are working to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife while providing hunters with more opportunities and access to public and private land. In addition, NWTF volunteers and partners are introducing youth, women and people with disabilities to the outdoors through special educational events.