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For Release: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kenneth Foster Receives DEC's Annual Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence

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 awarded Kenneth Foster of Dutchess County with its sixth annual Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence recognizing Foster's outstanding contribution to DEC's Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Program.

"Ken Foster is a dedicated and enthusiastic Hunter Education Instructor who has devoted decades of service to promoting and teaching safe and ethical hunting practices," said Kelly Turturro, DEC Regional Director. "We are happy to announce Ken as the recipient of the sixth 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 Foster, 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 Hunter Education Program.

Kenneth Foster

Foster became a Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor in 1979. With 39 years of service, he is a vital member of the Hunter Education Program team and has been involved in more than 80 courses since 1979, teaching hundreds of students. Foster is an active member of his local sportsmen's federation, recruits and mentors fellow Hunter Education Instructors, and regularly contributes to his community through shooting sports programs at the Pleasant Valley Trout & Game Club.

Fellow Instructor, Brad Forrest said, "Ken is an excellent representative for the shooting sports. His teaching techniques get the entire class involved and interested. His mentoring has taught me and others to follow in his steps. My words here do not do justice to his contributions. Ken is a credit to the Sportsman Education Program."

The hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is declining at a fast rate. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has plunged more than 70 percent. The past five-year average is 3.2 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s. The 2017 season was an average year with 19 incidents. However, the 2016 New York hunting season had the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents on record in part due to more than 60 years of dedicated efforts of more than 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education Instructors.

The award is named for Wayne Jones, the Hunter Education Program Administrator for New York from 1992 - 2008. Wayne was instrumental to the program and during his tenure achieved many significant accomplishments for the program, including his work on the international level to develop online educational tools and national standards for course contents.

The award recognizes active Volunteer Instructors who have demonstrated and contributed to the advancement of the Hunter Education Programs through enhancing students understanding and enjoyment of our wildlife resources; creating awareness of responsibilities and instilling respect towards habitat, wildlife, non-hunters, hunters and themselves; and by enhancing public understanding and acceptance of hunting and trapping as legitimate public recreation activities and as proper wildlife management practices.

Instructors are nominated by their peers based on criteria that include: 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 and 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.

Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. This initiative will support the completion of more than 75 projects over the next three years, ranging from improvements to youth camps and environmental education centers to new boat launches, duck blinds, and hiking trails. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative at DEC's website.

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