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For Release: Monday, November 20, 2017

Otsego County Man Receives DEC Hunter Education Award

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that it has awarded Gary Graver of Otsego County with its 5th annual Region 4 'Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence' for his work as an outstanding volunteer hunter educator.

Graver has been an active hunting education instructor in Delaware and Otsego counties for 28 years. As a Master Instructor, he helps DEC conduct new instructor training classes and mentors instructor apprentices interested in learning the proper teaching methods and techniques.

Graver is the Delaware County hunting education coordinator and supplies local instructors with the materials and equipment necessary to conduct accurate and comprehensive hunting education classes.

"Gary is always willing to go above and beyond for the program, and his enthusiasm and dedication make him a role model for other hunter educators," said DEC Region 4 Director Keith Goertz. "It's an honor to present him with this award."

All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must pass one or more specific courses before obtaining a New York State hunting license. DEC-certified instructors teach safe and responsible firearms conduct and skills while stressing the important role hunters and trappers play in conserving the State's natural resources.

Volunteer instructors provide invaluable support to the implementation of New York's hunting education program, which DEC credits with helping to produce the safest generation of hunters on record.

The hunting incident rate, incidents per 100,000 hunters, has declined dramatically since the 1960s. 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 hunting season was one of the safest on record, with the lowest number of hunting-related incidents. All of this is due in part to the more than 60 years of dedicated service of the more than 2,500 volunteer hunter educators. An estimated 45,000 prospective hunters participated in DEC's Hunter Safety courses this year.

This award is named for Wayne Jones, the hunting education program administrator for New York from 1992 through 2008. Jones was instrumental to the program, and during his tenure achieved many significant accomplishments for the 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 Wayne W. Jones award recognizes active volunteer instructors that have demonstrated and contributed to the advancement of hunting education programs by enhancing students' understanding and enjoyment of our wildlife resources; creating awareness of responsibilities and instilling a respect for wildlife, habitat, non-hunters, hunters, and themselves; and by enhancing public understanding and acceptance of hunting and trapping as legitimate public recreation activities and as appropriate wildlife management practices.

Instructors are nominated by their peers based on 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 hunting education program's audience; 3) working above and beyond required job descriptions, exceeding expectations and achieving noteworthy results within 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.

Senator James L. Seward said, "Throughout New York State, and especially here in our region, outdoor sporting traditions have deep roots. Our volunteer educators ensure that those traditions will continue and that our next generation of hunters and trappers keep safety in mind. Congratulations to Gary Graver for going above and beyond and playing a key role in educating and protecting our sportsmen."

Assemblyman Clifford Crouch said, "I would like to Congratulate Gary Graver for being awarded the DEC Region 4 Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence," said Crouch. "His dedication and work ethic have had a tremendous impact on our region over the last 28 years. He has volunteered so much of his time to ensure that the people of DEC Region 4 receive a proper hunter safety education. I would once again like to congratulate him on receiving this award; his dedication and service are greatly appreciated."

Bill Magee, Assemblyman for the 121st District said, "The dedication and shared knowledge of volunteer hunter educators have helped to reduce the number of hunting related accidents in New York, making recent years the safest on record. Gary Graver has contributed with expertise and devotion and is now most deservedly receiving the 2017 DEC Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence for Region 4, and I offer him my gratitude as we congratulate him on this accomplishment."

Hunter safety is a priority for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and is part of the New York Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative. The dedication of our volunteer hunting education instructors is the cornerstone of this initiative.

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    DEC Region 4
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    Schenectady, NY 12306
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