From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:
The Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife recently recognized its top-performing employees for their contributions to conservation, mentoring, and teamwork during 2020.
Award winners were Jeff Thompson, Anna Smithey, Elizabeth Middleton, and the Shrubs for Shrikes program team.
Thompson was awarded the Fish & Wildlife Mentor of the Year Award. In his long tenure as as a wildlife biologist in the west/southwest part of the state, he has guided many staff members, providing them with the practical training needed to manage Indiana’s wildlife for present and future generations of Hoosiers. Thompson’s mentoring efforts carry forward a tradition of conservation excellence.
Smithey earned the Conservation Cornerstone Award, which is given annually to one support staff member to recognize excellence advancing the division’s programs. Smithey took on many roles as an office manager in 2020, supporting staff in three different offices in addition to her regular duties at Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area, and provided exceptional customer service.
Middleton received the Fish & Wildlife Champion Award, which is given to one biologist or program manager to recognize their outstanding contributions to fish and wildlife conservation. In her two-year tenure with DFW as the stewardship outreach specialist, Middleton has increased collaboration across divisions and offices within DNR, partnering with state parks staff, wildlife biologists, and property managers. During the height of the pandemic, Middleton adjusted quickly, creating virtual programming and digital content to help Hoosiers connect to Indiana’s fish and wildlife resources.
The Director’s Team of the Year Award went to the Shrubs for Shrikes program team. Last year, DNR Fish & Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and the Indiana Audubon Society began working with private landowners to create nesting habitat for state endangered loggerhead shrikes. Their collaborative partnership provided the funding necessary to purchase, plant, and maintain cedar trees favored by shrikes for nesting and shelter. Landowners received monetary incentives to protect the shrikes’ nesting areas for years to come. Shrikes born in spring 2020 were observed later in the year using the newly planted trees for shelter. Learn more about loggerhead shrikes at wildlife.IN.gov/3370.htm. Find out more about the Adopt-a-Shrike program at indianaaudubon.org/adopt-a-shrike/.
The division also recognized employees for their years of service with the State of Indiana:
—Five years: Rachael Stouder, Andrew Fairchild, Sadie Dainko, Alexander Ingersoll, Savanna Vaughn, Erica LeRose, Steve Rumade, Susan Myers, Leticia Trevino, Allisyn–Marie Gillet, Andrew Bueltmann, Jonathan Roales, Jodi Daugherty, Dawn Johnson, Byron Getz
—Ten years: Matthew Bredeweg, Jason Mirtl, Timonthy Records, JoAnne Cummings, Douglas Green, Timothy Shier, Martin Daugherty
—15 years: Sam Whiteleather, Robert Bonewitz, Matt Buffington, Michael Rhoades, Adam Phelps, Dennis Workman
—20 years: Ken Hasselkus, Christie Stanifer, Brian Boszor
—25 years: Robert Ackerson, Brant Fisher, Patrick Mayer, Shannon McMillan, Linnea Petercheff, Bill Seegers
—35 years: Jeffrey Bott, Scott Lane, David Potts, Gregory Rainford