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North Dakota Game and Fish Department director Dean Hildebrand recently honored a number of employees with performance-based awards. Hildebrand presented the following awards at the department's annual staff meeting Dec. 12:

· Stan Kohn, migratory game bird biologist, Bismarck, received the Special Projects award for his work on sandhill crane management. According to Hildebrand, Kohn has worked diligently over the past decade to develop additional sandhill crane hunting opportunities in North Dakota. "This work has involved countless meetings, letters, and flyway recommendations involving our department, the Central Flyway Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many others," Hildebrand added. "All of this hard work paid off in 2001 when the Service granted North Dakota a three-year experimental sandhill crane hunting season east of Highway 281. The new season was granted in part because of Stan's diligence and persistence in tracking the issue and negotiating a favorable agreement with the Service." The Special Projects award is given to a staff member for completing a new project which is on its way to being highly successful.

· Jeb Williams, outreach biologist, Bismarck, was presented with the Innovations award, recognizing staff for implementing a process to improve department goals and objectives. Williams received the award for his efforts in developing the YOUTH program - Young Outdoorsmen Understanding The Hunting heritage. Williams recognized a problem, Hildebrand said, and did something about it. "Amid statewide debate on hunting access issues, and based on personal observations, Jeb felt that young hunters in North Dakota might be discouraged to the point of quitting because of increased posting of land and fee hunting operations that were reducing access opportunities in the state," Hildebrand added. "He also knew that many landowners were hunters themselves, and while they may post their land for a variety of reasons, they were interested in preserving the hunting heritage for the next generation. Jeb's idea was to provide a way for interested landowners to let young hunters know they could feel comfortable in asking for permission to hunt."

· Michelle Pich and Gail Mosset, licensing clerks, Bismarck, received the Solid Foundation award, presented for exemplary work in the administrative, technical, or support field. Pich and Mosset are long-time licensing staff who have proved themselves year after year, Hildebrand said. "Each year our licensing division is engulfed in a high volume of walk-in costumers, telephone calls and mail," Hildebrand said. "The deer application process leads to a high action, high stress environment. Michelle and Gail handle these challenges very well and are key factors to the licensing section and the department."

· Jacquie Gerads, furbearer/disease biologist, Bismarck, received the Public Outreach award, presented to an employee or group of individuals for showing a significant effort, ability, or accomplishment in interacting with the public while promoting the department's programs. Over this past year, Hildebrand said, wildlife diseases became a focal point of much public interest and concern in the country and in our state. "As new cases of chronic wasting disease and West Nile virus were reported across the country, citizens of our state became increasingly alarmed about the modes of transmission, risk to humans, symptoms, and methods of prevention for these diseases," Hildebrand added. "Jacquie initiated an extensive communication and outreach effort to address public concern and provide awareness about these diseases. Her efforts included developing the department's CWD brochure and the CWD prevention and contingency plan, and was responsible for serving as the department's liaison to several multi-state and federal work groups and task forces."
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