Many deserving people received recognition during the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Annual Awards Banquet on March 15.
All honorees credited contributions of their group’s members in successfully conducting the sportsmen/conservation projects and programs for which they were awarded. Stated or implied in all professional and volunteer work performed was a love for the natural resource and an earnest effort to interest others in that resource.
The Sportsmen of the Year award was presented to Joseph “Jo Jo” Wilczewski, a hard-working member of the Niagara Musky Association. Friends who missed the federation banquet can congratulate Jo Jo at the NMA banquet April 5.
The Valerie E. Gonnello Sportswoman of the Year honor went to Donna Metz, tireless volunteer who has served in nearly every office with the Erie County Conservation Society.
Chuck Godfrey, current ECFSC president, received the Volunteer of the Year Award for his many federation and conservation involvements.
The Public Service Award went to Doug Zeller, who serves as captain of the DEC Research Vessel at Dunkirk Harbor.
Sheriff Tim Howard accepted the Public Servant of the Year Award for his many positive firearms-related contributions.
The Stan Spisiak Conservationist of the Year went to a club rather than an individual. Elma Conservation Club was cited for its numerous youth and adult conservation programs offered year-round.
Environmentalist of the Year was presented to Senior Aquatic Biologist Jim Markham with the DEC Lake Erie Unit.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mark Kandel, Region 9 regional wildlife manager, who plans to retire in August.
Dedicated Service honors were presented to Willard “Willie” Sieber, a decades-long Bison City Rod & Gun Club program participant.
Tyler Burgess, 15, received the Youth of the Year Award. Burgess, working in Southtowns Walleye Association activities, has been a key volunteer in programs.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was given to Robert Keicher, who has coordinated many Safari Club International wildlife enhancement projects.
A President’s Special Recognition Award went to Fred Forsythe, a Lake Erie charter captain who has organized an extensive fishing program for recovering veteran military personnel.
The President’s Award went to Rose Barus, current ECFSC treasurer and a contributing coordinator at virtually all federation functions.
The Erie County Trappers Association Trapper of the Year Award was presented to Matt Rachwal, 18, who has been an active trapper for more than six years.