Danica Williams of Lacombe has been selected to receive the Governor’s Award – Conservationist of the Year for 2015. Williams is being recognized for her volunteer leadership with Wish to Fish Louisiana Foundation, which in 2015 provided fishing opportunities to children with disabilities; children of deployed active duty parents; and young boys who have lost their fathers to violence, natural causes or long-term incarceration.
The award, a handsome statuette of a bald eagle, will be presented the evening of Saturday, April 2 at a festive banquet to be held at Embassy Suites Hotel in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend and can purchase banquet tickets online at lawildlifefed.org.
The Governor’s Award is presented annually to the person or organization deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution toward the protection, wise use and enjoyment of Louisiana’s natural resources among nominees submitted by the public. The selection for this and eight other awards was made by a panel of independent judges with expertise in a wide range of conservation fields. The 52nd Annual Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards program is hosted by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the awards are presented jointly with the National Wildlife Federation.
In addition to her volunteer activities, Danica Williams is the Fisheries Extension Program Manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and her duties include developing youth education and organizing events for adults, such as fish tagging programs. She is the founder of Wish to Fish Louisiana Foundation and spends her free time and personal resources to promote outdoor enjoyment to youth, particularly those who may not be able to easily access Louisiana’s natural resources.
“Getting kids outside and fishing is a great way to teach the importance of conservation. Danica Williams is reaching kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to spend a day out on the water. She demonstrates an inspiring commitment to education and youth development in her professional and personal life,” said Rebecca Triche, LWF’s executive director.
Five other individuals, one business, and two organizations will also be recognized by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation for their outstanding conservation achievements. They are:
Christopher Reid of Baton Rouge – For his work as the State Biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Natural Heritage Program and his vital role in working with private landowners in southwest Louisiana to conserve and restore coastal prairies on their property, a dwindling but essential part of Louisiana’s natural heritage.
Pamela Kay Connery of Eunice– For her volunteer leadership as founder of Louisiana Bobcat Refuge (LBR) and its volunteer Executive Director since 2010. LBR is the only bobcat species-specific rehabilitation center in Louisiana and across the southeastern United States that offers long-term rehabilitation.
Taylor Renee Wagner of Thibodaux – For her conservation efforts at Edward Douglas White Catholic High School and starting the E.D. White Ecology Club. She participated in the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program’s Marine Debris Prevention Program, the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, the Junior Master Naturalist Program, and the Wetlands Youth Summit.
ORA Estuaries – For their innovative approach to coastal habit protection and developing the OysterBreak, a stackable ring of concrete and oyster shell that is designed to both prevent erosion and serve as a breeding ground for oysters that creates oyster reefs.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” Program – For their commitment to providing women with opportunities to learn about hunting, fishing, and outdoor skills, which encourages them to take part in outdoor activities with confidence by offering more than 20 specialty courses at their annual workshop.
Representative Gene Reynolds of Minden– For his vocal and collaborative leadership for the community members near Camp Minden who expressed concern about the use of an open burn method to dispose of volatile and aging explosive materials that were improperly stored at the site. His efforts, along with community leaders, helped lead to the selection of a safer, closed-burn disposal method at Camp Minden and Representative Reynolds continues to advocate for a ban on open burn of these kinds of chemicals statewide.
Bo Boehringer of Baton Rouge – For his dedicated and creative work to raise public awareness about the State’s Whooping Crane Project in his role as public information director for the Office of Wildlife at Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, from which he recently retired. Boehringer was instrumental in gaining media coverage and developing education materials to remind citizens of the presence of whooping cranes in Louisiana.
Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – For their efforts to return harvested oyster shells to Louisiana’s coastal waters though their Oyster Shell Recycling Program to be used in coastal restoration projects. The program collected 1,650 tons of oyster shells since its inception in 2014 and in 2015 alone, 1,123 tons of oyster shells were collected through a partnership with 26 New Orleans restaurants.
The Louisiana Wildlife Federation is a statewide conservation education and advocacy organization. Established in 1940, it is affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation and represents a broad constituency of conservationists including hunters, fishers, campers, birders, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. www.LaWildlifeFed.org.
Video for Wish to Fish Louisiana event in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYUSmXVLpcU