WVDNR Announces Outdoors Awards for 2007


Mar 11, 2001
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WVDNR Announces Outdoors Awards for 2007


The Sportsperson of the Year and Sportsmen's Organization of the Year for 2007 were announced by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Frank Jezioro during the recent West Virginia Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days at Stonewall Resort State Park.

Because of the extraordinary contributions of two individuals to West Virginia natural resources and the sporting public, the Director decided to award two separate 2007 Sportsperson of the Year Awards.

The first award was given to Joe Crowder of Elkview, who is currently the stocking coordinator for the Kanawha Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (KVCTU). He has planned, supervised and participated in numerous stocking efforts over the years with KVCTU, contributing not only his time but also his personal gear, gasoline and vehicle wear and tear. In 2006 alone, he contributed to the stocking of 80,000 brown trout fingerlings in 18 streams - 3 of which were devoid of trout. Also, in April 2006, he presided over KVCTU's stocking of its one millionth fingerling.

He is head of KVCTU's Stream Chemistry Program, Save-Our-Streams Program and outreach programs. He has collected data on more than 130 streams, contributing significantly to regional stream monitoring efforts. He has assisted watershed associations monitor water quality, complete stream bank restoration and develop a community park. "His positive interactions with landowners have opened previously closed streams to the fishing public. He has a great rapport with kids, teaching them not only how to fish and tie spinners, but also how to understand, appreciate and respect the natural world," said Frank Jezioro.

The second 2007 Sportsperson of the Year Award was given to Randy Benear of Cross Lanes, who has been a member of DNR's Physically Challenged Advisory Board since its inception in 1999. He has not allowed his physical handicap to deter his active involvement with sportsmen's groups and in outdoor pursuits. He is an avid hunter and angler, and a member of the West Virginia Bowhunters Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the West Virginia Hunters Education Association. He has shown leadership ability in these organizations and his community, and he continues to promote, and encourage participation in, the time-honored West Virginia traditions of fishing, hunting and trapping.

He is a recognized outdoor writer, contributing several articles for the Wheelin' Sportsmen magazine. "But possibly exceeding his writing skills and leadership with sportsmen's groups in importance has been his involvement with young people and the physically challenged," noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro. Benear is a DNR Certified Hunter Education Instructor, an active volunteer in the West Virginia Archery in the Schools Program, and has assisted the DNR with two state archery tournaments. He is a mentor to many physically challenged youth who wish to participate in outdoor activities, and has assisted several youth hunts for the physically challenged.

The 2007 Sportsmen's Organization of the Year Award went to the West Virginia Chapter 09 Muskies, Inc. "This organization has been a leader within the state in promoting fisheries enhancement projects and striving to conserve and protect the great natural resources with which West Virginia is blessed," said Jezioro. "The desire of this organization is best exhibited by their motto: 'Youth, Fisheries and Research.'"

The West Virginia Chapter 09 Muskies, Inc. ensures the perpetuation of the fisheries resource by promoting catch-and-release musky fishing through their Trophy Release Citation Program. This organization has annually purchased carp pituitary extract, necessary for propagation and rearing of fingerling muskies, for the DNR. Through active and enthusiastic fund raising, this organization has purchased other necessary items for the DNR, such as Fyke Nets/telemetry equipment (North Bend Lake) and aquatic vegetation plantings/fencing (Stonewall Jackson, Burnsville, Sutton and Woodrum Lakes), and has also provided invaluable labor. Since its inception in 2001, this organization has assisted the DNR in advancing the fingerling stocking program by participating in rearing pond drainage and advanced fingerling capture, tagging and release. Its members have benefited the sporting and general public by maintaining two Ritchie County boat access areas, conducting a Kid's Fishing Derby and Kid's Fishing Fun Day, and showing Wirt County 4-H Club summer camp attendees and National Wild Turkey Federation JAKES event attendees how to fish.

"DNR would not be able to perform as well as it does without the remarkable support of individuals and organizations such as these," said Frank Jezioro. "Our agency thanks this year's winners and all the other organizations and citizens who work so hard to improve our environment and quality of outdoor recreation."

Media Contact:
Curtis Taylor, Wildlife Resources Section Chief (304) 558-2771 wildlife@wvdnr.gov

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