Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever Honor Conservation Champions

Individuals recognized for their efforts in four upland categories and one partner award

Award recipients pose with Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s president and CEO, at the 81st North American Conference. (From left to right: Keith Sexson, Todd Bogenschutz, Miles Moretti [on behalf of Dave Smith], Howard Vincent, Bob Ziehmer [on behalf of Bill White], and Dan Forster.)
Award recipients pose with Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s president and CEO, at the 81st North American Conference. (From left to right: Keith Sexson, Todd Bogenschutz, Miles Moretti [on behalf of Dave Smith], Howard Vincent, Bob Ziehmer [on behalf of Bill White], and Dan Forster.)
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever

Pittsburgh, PA -( Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever recently honored five wildlife professionals for their distinguishing contributions to conservation during the 81st North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference.

Awards were presented to Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever partners who have championed wildlife habitat conservation efforts for upland species including pheasant, quail, sage grouse, and the lesser prairie-chicken.

“These awards are presented annually to natural resource professionals who personify the wildlife habitat conservation mission of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever,” stated Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s president and CEO. “Across the board, each individual has played a significant role in managing for upland birds and continues to support the partnership efforts of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. Congratulations to our award winners for 2016, we look forward to more wildlife habitat conservation accomplishments together in the coming days, months, and years.”

Pheasant Award: Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist – Iowa DNR

Representing a dedicated voice for wildlife habitat conservation in his home state of Iowa and across the Midwest, Bogenschutz has had personal influence throughout the pheasant range with his lengthy involvement in national conservation policy as part of Farm Bill legislation. Additionally, Bogenschutz has been a champion of the National Wild Pheasant Conservation Plan over the past decade, and has voiced his support for the newly announced position of National Pheasant Plan Coordinator. Working side-by-side with Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever chapters and biologists, Bogenschutz has assisted “The Habitat Organization” with implementation of numerous state programs in Iowa and has been an advocate for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement practice – part of the continuous Conservation Reserve Program – that has helped reestablish Iowa’s ringneck population in recent years.

Quail Award: Dan Forster, Director of Wildlife Resources Division – Georgia DNR

Playing a pivotal role in the development of the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition – a collaborative effort between state agencies, Quail Forever, and Tall Timbers Research Station – Dan Forster has been a champion for quail restoration in Georgia for many years. The Coalition was formed with the objective of using Quail Forever’s grassroots fundraising model to generate financial support for bobwhite quail focus area habitat improvements on public lands in Georgia and Florida, as well as promoting youth shooting sports and outdoor education. This strategy has required unprecedented innovation and collaboration from the Georgia DNR, and would not have succeeded without Forster’s leadership. In its first year of existence, the Coalition generated over $85,000 from local Quail Forever chapters and promises much greater return in the future as new chapters develop within the state’s NBCI focus areas.

Sage Grouse Award:  Dave Smith, Coordinator for the Intermountain West Joint Venture

Dave Smith is the coordinator of the Intermountain West Joint Venture and a key partner of Pheasants Forever in the western states. Smith is responsible for delivering bird habitat conservation efforts across an 11-state region – including specialized program efforts for the Sage Grouse Initiative – of which Pheasants Forever plays a critical role in helping to deliver on private lands. His important work in the West has created the Sage-Grouse Initiative Strategic Watershed Action Team, a $10.6 million effort to build the field capacity, science, and communications capacity for this landmark initiative. Sagebrush habitat conservation is a high priority for the Intermountain West Joint Venture, as well as Pheasants Forever, since more than 90 percent of North American sagebrush habitats occur in the Joint Venture’s range. Smith’s leadership has been central to linking the Sage Grouse Initiative to local partners, and has also paired the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Pheasants Forever, NRCS, and more than 25 other organizations in the region to implement SGI projects throughout the bird’s native range.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Award:  Keith Sexson, Assistant Secretary – Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Honoring a 47-year career of natural resources management, Keith Sexson is a long-time partner and friend of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever who shares a mutual vision with the organization for wildlife habitat management efforts in Kansas. Most recently, Sexson has been a champion for lesser prairie-chicken conservation efforts and for setting up the Interstate Working Groups for greater prairie-chicken and sharp-tailed grouse. This effort was born out of lessons learned from lesser prairie-chicken management and the awareness for various negative scenarios that could play out for prairie grouse without strong intervention from the private sector and conservation groups. Sexson has answered the call for action in order to keep these species healthy and available to public hunting, and continues to support the efforts of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever with innovative ideas and strong partner relationships.

Partner of the Year Award:  Bill White, Private Lands Services Division Chief, Missouri Department of Conservation

Partnering with Quail Forever since its inception to develop a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist program in Missouri, White has helped to put in place seven biologist partner positions with an additional coordinating position, focusing on pollinator habitat, launching this spring. These partnerships expand the ability of the Missouri Department of Conservation to put habitat on private lands – arguably one of the best private lands programs in the country. White’s leadership in developing partnerships and fostering a collaborative working environment has made a substantial impact in Missouri. His efforts – along with his great team and the leadership of Director Ziehmer – have resulted in the joint development (with Quail Forever) of one of the first National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative Private Land Focus Areas in the nation.

About the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference

Presented by the Wildlife Management Institute, The North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference is an annual gathering of industry leaders dedicated to the conservation, enhancement and management of North America’s wildlife and other natural resources.

About Pheasants Forever:

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 145,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $634 million on 502,000 habitat projects benefiting 14.1 million acres nationwide.

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