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For Release: Friday, May 26, 2017

DEC Names Lester Wojnar Recipient of Annual Wayne W. Jones Award

Award Recognizes Outstanding Participation in DEC's Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Program

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that the agency is awarding Lester Wojnar of Dutchess County with the fifth annual DEC Region 3 Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding participation in DEC's Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Program.

"Les Wojnar has proven to be an invaluable asset and a credit to DEC's Sportsman Education Program, the DEC in general, and the community he serves," said Kelly Turturro, DEC Region 3 Director. "Les is a worthy recipient of the fifth annual DEC Region 3 Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence."

All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must pass one or more courses before receiving a hunting license in New York State. Trained instructors certified by DEC, such as Wojnar, teach safe and responsible outdoors practices while stressing the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation. Volunteer instructors provide invaluable support to the implementation of New York State's Sportsman Education Program.

Picture of Lester Wojnar

Wojnar became a Volunteer Sportsman Education Instructor in 2008, and is a vital member of the Sportsman Education Program team as the lead instructor for 39 courses since 2009. A mentor to his fellow instructors, Wojnar was asked to become a Master Instructor for the program in 2016.

"Les is an extraordinary example of true conservation principles, not only through his personal demeanor in the classroom, but through his activities in the field. He is an active outdoorsman himself who 'practices what he preaches' during each open hunting season and leads by example in the field whether it's fishing, hunting, trapping, or just scouting," said long-time fellow instructor Frederick Manger. "Les has touched many students, instructors, coordinators, and DEC staff in a positive way. My experience with Les is one-of-a-kind."

The hunting incident rate, incidents per 100,000 hunters, in New York State is in decline. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has plunged more than 80 percent. The past five-year average is 3.5 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s. The 2016, New York's hunting season had the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents on record, in part due to the more than 60 years of dedicated efforts of over 2,500 volunteer sportsman education instructors.

The award is named for Wayne Jones, the Sportsman Education Program Administrator for New York from 1992 to 2008. Jones was instrumental to the program and during his tenure achieved many significant accomplishments for the Sportsman Education Program, not the least of which was his work on the international level to develop online educational tools and national standards for course content.

The award recognizes active volunteer instructors that have contributed to the advancement of Sportsman Education Programs through enhancing students' understanding and enjoyment of our wildlife resources; creating awareness of responsibilities and instilling respect toward habitat, wildlife, non-hunters, hunters, and themselves; and by enhancing public understanding and acceptance of hunting and trapping as legitimate public recreation activities and beneficial wildlife management practices.

Instructors are nominated by their peers based on a set of criteria, including:

  1. achieving substantial improvements or innovations to program operations or classroom activities;
  2. collaborating with other groups across traditional program boundaries to expand the audience of the Sportsman Education Program;
  3. working above and beyond required job descriptions, exceeding expectations, and achieving noteworthy results in an accelerated or impressive timeline; and
  4. applying or developing innovative techniques or approaches that demonstrate best practices and/or serve as a model to inspire others to outstanding achievement.

Hunting safety is a priority for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and is a key part of the NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative.

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  • DEC Region 3 Office - Wendy Rosenbach
    21 South Putt Corners Rd.
    New Paltz, NY 12561
    845-256-3018
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