WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor innovation and long-standing commitment

The following is a press release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 16, 2017
Contact: Jason Wettstein (360) 902-2254

WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor
innovation and long-standing commitment


Jarrod Kirkley of River Junky with Dir Jim Unsworth and Joe Stohr behind podium

OLYMPIA – One organization fulfilled the hunting and fishing dreams of youth with severe disabilities, while another matched volunteers with manufacturers to clean rivers around the state. A third demonstrated sustained commitment to conservation and rural livelihoods in central Washington for nearly 75 years.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2017 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.

Greg Volkhardt (left) Jim Unsworth (Center) Bryan King (right)

Youth Outdoors Unlimited (Y.O.U) (http://www.youthoutdoorsu.org) of Moses Lake took home an Organization of the Year award for its work assisting young people with disabilities. Supported by the efforts and donations of anglers, hunters and other outdoorspeople, the organization arranges for all-expenses-paid adventures for young people and their families, including adaptive equipment, travel, food, and lodging.


“Youth Outdoors Unlimited makes hunting and fishing wishes come true for young people with serious illnesses and disabilities,” said Dolores Noyes, ADA program manager with WDFW. “This organization teaches youth with disabilities how they can access their recreational dreams using specialized equipment to accommodate their specific physical needs.”

YOU Jim Unsworth Joe Carpenter Nathan Jonson (back) then Faith Torgerson, then Mikey Williamson then Zach heckinger and Cindy Carpenter

Kittitas County Conservation District (http://www.kccd.net) also took home an Organization of the Year award for its 15-year-long effort to expand fish habitat in Manastash Creek, as well as its 75-year-long history of working for conservation and rural livelihoods.

Loren and Norma Holthaus with Director Jim Unsworth

“Kittitas County Conservation District has been a bulwark of support for fish, wildlife and landowners,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW regional director for southcentral Washington. “This organization has played an important role in many of the noteworthy accomplishments in conserving natural resources on private lands in that county.”

River Junky (http://riverjunky.us), a nonprofit organization founded in 2016, was named Volunteer of the Year for connecting fishing gear manufacturers with volunteers to clean up trash at popular water access sites and in state rivers such as the Kalama, Skykomish, Puyallup, Blue Creek Cowlitz, and Sandy River.

“River Junky is bringing people together to clean up our rivers — and making it fun,” said Chris Conklin, an assistant program manager with the department. “Offering promotions, gifts and prizes, the organization and its volunteers are providing a new way to maintain the quality of the outdoor experiences we all enjoy.”

Director Jim Unsworth center, with Sherry Swanson on left and Anna Lael on right, of Kittitas County Conservation District

WDFW also recognized Educators of the Year, Loren and Norma Holthaus for teaching hunter education for more than 30 years in Washington. Together, they taught more than half of the hunter education classes in Okanogan County last year, certifying 108 new hunters. “The Holthaus’s efforts have meant better classes, better training for instructors, and a solid foundation for a new generation of hunters in Washington,” said Chuck Ray, a hunter education coordinator for northcentral Washington.


Other citizen awards announced by WDFW include the following:

Cathy Lynch with Director Jim Unsworth



  • Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award: Cathy Lynch received the Terry Hoffer award for her exceptional contributions as a hunter education instructor. Lynch certified 14 new volunteer hunter education instructors and some 500 students—more than 15 percent of the students in the North Puget Sound region in 2016.

    “Cathy is incredibly effective at finding ways to improve the team’s teaching methods,” said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW. “She always goes above and beyond, is there when we most need her, and she takes the extra time to ensure young students get the most out of the courses.”

    The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.


  • Landowner of the Year: The Green River Watershed staff of Tacoma Water (https://www.mytpu.org/tacomawater) took home a Landowner of the Year award for their work over the past 30 years with WDFW and the Muckleshoot Tribe to manage, maintain and improve opportunities for deer and elk hunting.

    “Tacoma Water staff such as Bryan King and Greg Volkhardt have helped provide distinctive hunting opportunities for decades,” said Russ Link, wildlife program manager for WDFW’s North Puget Sound region. “These two, among others, deserve recognition for their tireless work to support conservation and hunting in one of Washington’s most populated districts.”

Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2016. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/.

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