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Awards Profile People Behind Fish and Wildlife Conservation, State Parks
AUSTIN—Battling the devastating Bastrop wildfire and bringing back the Lost Pines forest, telling the Guadalupe River story to elementary schoolers, researching a new way to control the feral hog menace, and broadcasting the wildlife and parks message to millions of Texans on the radio—this year’s Texas Parks and Wildlife employee awards reveal the people behind these stories and others like them across the state.
The stories of recipients in all nine award categories come to life in a series of online videos, which also provide a look at the many different kinds of jobs in the fields of natural resource conservation and recreation.
When the 2011 wildlife burned more than 90 percent of Bastrop State Park, TPWD was left with the responsibility of determining the best way to restore the Lost Pines to its natural beauty. Greg Creacy, State Parks Regional Natural Resources Coordinator, oversaw the replanting of drought-resistant pine seedlings and has been monitoring the progress of the endangered Houston Toad. For his influence at Bastrop State Park, Creacy was named the winner of the Conservation award.
Guadalupe River State Park Ranger Craig Hensley has often been described as a character from a storybook. By finding creative new ways to engage park visitors of all ages to nature, Hensley has been receiving many park visitors who arrive just to participate in his program. By making the programs interactive and exciting, Hensley is the winner of the Community Outreach award.
Programming Specialist Danny Lewis in the Inland Fisheries Division has become the man behind the code for many of the programs that support Texas fisheries. He supports nine application programs that contain over 100,000 lines of code including an intricate database for the department’s “Kills and Spills” team, one of the most advanced of its kind and Lewis built it from scratch. Also the president of the Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers, Lewis has shown that he deserves the Customer Service award.
With help from the statistical analysis software (SAS) and ancient ninja practices, Innovation award winner Alejandro Farias finds ways to have fun with numbers and spreadsheets. By using modern-day analytics, Financial Analyst Alejandro Farias uses his ninja skills to save tax payers money and increase efficiency at TPWD.
Armed with a team of six biologists, Leadership award winner Calvin Richardson has become a leader in wildlife restoration and conservation efforts in the most remote corners of the state. Covering 35 million acres of the Texas Panhandle as the Wildlife Division District Two Leader, Richardson oversees conservation efforts for 56 counties and has been beneficial to the sustainability of species such as the black-footed ferret and the lesser prairie chicken.
Shooting sports specialist, and Partnership award winner, Charlie Wilson travels the state to teach students how to sharpen their target shooting skills and about firearm safety. Through the shooting sports program, shooters learn safety, agility, and teamwork all while having fun competing.
With a voice like velvet, Special Achievement award winner and Passport to Texas radio host, Cecilia Nasti has channeled her love of nature into a successful career. As the producer and host of the Passport to Texas radio show, Nasti has covered a range of topics from recreation to hunting. Nasti also launched new wild game cooking shows on PBS and YouTube and, partnered with Central Market’s cooking school, she helped serve up wild game cooking to the public.
The Feral Swine Research Team may look like they are having fun in the mud, but it is not all play without work. Team members Bjorn Palm, Daniel Gray, Fernando Gutierrez, Justin Foster and Lisa Wolle use science-based methods to confront the invasive hogs and save Texans millions of dollars in ecological damage every year. For their efforts and innovation, the research team receives The Outstanding Team award.
The Radio Conversion Team was told in March 2012 that TWPWD would be required to convert all two-way radio systems to narrow-band frequencies. The team had only 11 months to convert 6,000 pieces of equipment statewide and completed the project on time saving millions of dollars in the process. Team members Aaron Slaughter, Carl Perry, Chris Hornyak, Deani Smith, Gary Teeler, Joe Abrigo, John Wyatt, Kevin Jacob, Len Polasek, Mo Renteria, Mike Burow, Robert Crossman, and Scott Snyder received the Outstanding Team award for their hardwork.
The profile videos of the award winners are available on the TPWD YouTube Channel.
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