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The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife and Division of Nature Preserves recently presented awards to employees who have provided outstanding contributions to conservation, mentoring, and teamwork during the previous year.

Award winners were Denise Reust, Tom Bacula, Tom Despot, Scott Namestnik, Sandy Clark-Kolaks, Matt Linn, Emily McCallen, Joe Caudell, Tyler Delauder, and Karl Eliason. The Indiana Hellbender Partnership, represented during the awards ceremony by Nate Engbrecht, state herpetologist, also received recognition.

Reust, office manager for J.E. Roush Lake Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA) was awarded the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Cornerstone Award. This honor recognizes a support staff member’s excellence in advancing DFW programs. Reust’s exceptional execution of her duties and invaluable knowledge has increased the productivity and efficiency of operations at J.E. Roush Lake.

Bacula, district 1 fisheries biologist, received the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Champion Award. It recognizes employees who have made outstanding contributions to conservation. Bacula has provided instrumental leadership in the effort to rehabilitate J.C. Murphey Lake at Willow Slough FWA.

Despot, northwest public lands supervisor, received the Fish & Wildlife Mentor of the Year Award, which recognizes an exceptional ability to mentor others. Despot leads by example, promotes staff communication and collaboration, and ensures that everyone understands expectations and the resources available to them.

Scott Namestnik, state botanist, received the Employee of the Year award from the Division of Nature Preserves. It honors an employee who demonstrated outstanding achievement towards the preservation of Indiana’s natural areas. Namestnik shares his botany expertise widely with the public and has worked to refine and enhance the understanding of the plant genus, Rubus (blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry), in Indiana.

The team that produced the 2022-2023 Licensed Angler Survey received the Fish & Wildlife Director’s Team of the Year award, which recognizes a team’s significant contribution to conservation. Clark-Kolaks (south region fisheries research biologist), Linn (north region fisheries research biologist), Bacula, McCallen (biometrician), Caudell (deer biologist), Delauder (district 3 fisheries management biologist) and Eliason (business systems senior consultant) all received awards for their contribution to the 2022-2023 License Angler Survey, which was the largest-ever public input effort by the DFW fisheries program. The survey yielded data about angler concerns and fish consumption habits from nearly 17,000 licensed anglers. Results from the survey effort can be seen at on.IN.gov/angler-survey.

The Indiana Hellbender Partnership received the Budd Denneman Partners in Conservation Excellence award to honor its outstanding conservation efforts. The Indiana Hellbender Partnership is a collaboration between the DNR and Purdue University with funding support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and partners in local governments, universities, non-governmental organizations and zoos that are working to recover the state-endangered hellbender. Developed over 15 years, the Indiana Hellbender Partnership is the largest and most comprehensive group working to recover an imperiled amphibian in Indiana.

DFW and Nature Preserves also recognized employees for their years of service:

40 years: David Clary, Brian Cripe

35 years: Robin Bruegmann, Timothy Prowant, Robert Bell

30 years: Annette Toth Hardin, Daniel Carnahan, Laura Minzes

25 years: Denise Reust, Nathan Yazel, Mark Ciesielski

20 years: Alan Smith, Matthew Norman, Daniel Gautier, Cassie Hudson

15 years: Lance Tresenriter, Nathan Thomas, William Christensen, Angela Haywood, Theresa Bordenkecher, Judith Black

10 years: James Kovecsi, Zachary DeYoung, Travis Stoelting, Chad Springer, Daniel Eckstein, Bryan Boggs, Michael Linne, Reed Stiller, Julie Gressley, Dericke Lavoine, Michael Rhoades, Tyler Delauder, Katelyn Landwehr, Craig Jansen, Luke Rains, Ben Dickinson, Joe Simon, Emily Stork

5 years: Matthew Linn, Sean Gebhard, Kyle Knight, Geriann Albers, Larry Abel, James Edwards, Kalli Dunn, Bethany Stone, Riley Schubert, Ronald Nicholson, Daryl Boggs, Zachary Schoenherr, Hillary Bulcher, Jessica Merkling, Nathan Engbrecht, Brad Westrich, Matt Horsley, Ashley Sharkey


To view more DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

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