Three groups held awards banquets recently to thank volunteer and professional persons who contribute to outdoors conservation projects and events.

Musky Association

The Niagara Musky Association celebrated its 20th anniversary with an impressive awards banquet at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery on April 5.

NMA began with seven founding members and 130 attendees enjoyed a dinner during which recipients were cited for the top 10 anglers to catch and release trophy-sized muskies in 2013 and other service awards and a hall of fame inductee.

Joe “Jo Jo” Wilczewski of Amherst was inducted to the NMA Hall of Fame. Wilczewski recently received the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Sportsman of the Year award. A NMA member since 1996, he has volunteered in association programs and events, including as a cook for gatherings with food. President Scott McKee said, “I don’t know if we would have made it to 20 without him.”

The John Henning Award for the largest musky from the lower Niagara River went to Frank Alcorn of Mt. Jewett, Pa.

Mike Fortunate of Buffalo received the Bill Mendel Memorial President’s Award.

Frank Stachowiak of Cheektowaga accepted the Tim Wittek Memorial Award.

A prestigious lifetime achievement award called the NMA Memorial Award was presented to Scott Kitchen of North Tonawanda for his extensive involvements in conservation and association efforts.

To view banquet details and all NMA activities, go to

Niagara Federation

Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs paid tribute to outstanding clubs and individuals during its banquet at Suzanne’s Fine Dining in Niagara Falls on April 5.

Two names were added to the Don Bronson Memorial Conservation Wall of Fame, which is in front of the Cornell Cooperative Extension building in Lockport: The late Joel Thomas of Appleton, federation volunteer, SPCA wildlife administrator and sportsmen education instructor; and Chris Schotz of Sanborn, extensively active in county federation and Wilson Conservation Club programs.

The Oliver Jones Sportsman of the Year Award went to Loren Tiffany of Lockport.

NYS Rifle and Pistol Association received the Leroy Winn Memorial Club of the Year Award.

Richard Conley of Lockport was presented the Milford “Pinky” Robinson Award for his involvement in Great Lakes fishery efforts.

The Carl Lass Memorial Award for Youth of the Year went to Joe Nagel, winner of several top places in the 2013 Scholastic Clays Target Program.

The Legislator of the Year award named in honor of John Daly was given to Paul Wojtaszek of North Tonawanda for his support of Second Amendment rights.

Gary Lewis of Wilson took the Ken Berner Memorial Conservation Award.

Wayne “Butch” Snell of Barker accepted the Victor Fitchlee Memorial Lifetime Achievement in Conservation and Outdoor Sports Award.

The John Long Sr. Memorial Award for an outdoors-related business went to John Hutcheson of A-1 Bait Supply in Niagara Falls.

The President’s Award went to Russell Petrie of Media, chairman of the Niagara County Chapter of SCOPE.

Hunter Safety Training Awards were given to Eric Minton of North Tonawanda for firearms and to Ed Webber of Lewiston for archery.

Bill Hilts Sr. bestowed the American Crossbow Federation national award presented in his name annually to his son, Bill Hilts Jr., for promoting crossbow hunting opportunities.

Chautauqua Federation

President Zen Olow emceed the Chautauqua County Federation of Sportsmen’s Club 7th Harry Probst Memorial Dinner at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club on Monday evening, presenting awards to deserving recipients of county clubs.

Guest Speaker Stephen T. Aldstadt, state president of SCOPE, pointed out that gun owners could have an impact on local and statewide elections.

“For example, in the last gubernatorial election only 4½ million voted; there are 6 million gun owners in this state,” Aldstadt said. He urged all to become involved in the positions of legislators on outdoors, conservation and firearms issues.

Olow announced recipients of the inaugural Chautauqua County Youth Lifetime Sportsmen’s License Program. He thanked Joe Jemiolo for help in developing the program in Chautauqua after Jemiolo’s two successful years with Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs program.

Eight youths were presented licenses; kids received licenses in three age groups. In the ages 0-4 group, Robert Orgass, 3, of Jamestown was the single recipient.

In ages 5-11, Paul Majchezak of Sherman, Tristan Olsen of Forestville and Owen Lewis of Silver Creek received licenses. In ages 12-16, Anthony Spann of Westfield, Henry Malarkey of Jamestown, Cope Rissel of Falconer and Samantha Newman of Falconer all were presented licenses.

A special New York State DEC Retiring Employee Award was presented to Mark Kandel, Region 9 wildlife manager, who has served in many fish and wildlife positions and is retiring in August after 35 years of service.