TU honors volunteers and professionals who make fishing better

Jim Greene accepts the annual Ray Mortenson Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership from TU President and CEO Chris Wood at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Scranton, Pa.

Trout Unlimited honored a slate of its brightest volunteers and conservation champions at its annual meeting last week in Scranton, Pa., including Jim Greene of TU’s Potomac-Patuxent Chapter, who was given the organization’s most prestigious award, the Ray Mortenson Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.

Greene has worked for years to coordinate his chapter’s efforts to create and maintain its Trout in the Classroom program. He not only keeps tabs on the program, but is personally involved, visiting dozens of classrooms and showing student how even aquarium-raised trout have a hunting instinct—he uses a short rod and hook-clipped fly to show students how trout hit dry flies right in their classrooms.

Jim is the president and CEO of Waterwisp flies and has been for nearly 20 years. Before that, he was an advisor at the World Bank, and a U.S. foreign service officer, serving abroad in several countries, including Kenya and Tanzania.

Each year the Mortenson Award is given to that “one in a thousand” volunteer whose work to protect trout and salmon over a period of years—even decades—warrants recognition.

Joining Greene on the awards podium this year were several other volunteers and conservation professionals who have contributed greatly to TU’s mission over the last year. They include:


Tom Jones acceps the annual Griffith Award from TU President and CEO Chris Wood

  • Tom Jones, winner of the Griffith Award for distinguished service in the leadership arena. Jones hails from the Five Rivers chapter of Trout Unlimited in Durango, Colo., where he works to raise awareness and protect amazing wild and native trout habitat in places like the Alpine Triangle. He was a key proponent in the recently successful effort to protect the Hermosa Creek Wilderness.


Frances Oates with TU Vice President for Volunteer Operations Beverly Smith

  • Frances Oates, recipient of the Bollinger Award for distinguished service in the communications realm. Oates is a former newspaper woman, and today is the communications officer for the Clinch River Chapter and the Tennessee Council.


Howard Johson, right, with TU National Leadership Chairman Mick McCorcle

  • Howard Johnson, winner of the distinguished service award in the conservation arena. Johnson is the unofficial “riverkeeper” of Michigan’s South Branch of the Au Sable River, and the 11-mile stretch surrounding it that was donated by George Mason, on of the 16 founders of TU back in 1959. Johnson has been at the center of almost every conservation project conducted on the Au Sable over the last 30 years.


Judi Sittler with TU Youth Programs Coordinator Franklin Tate, left, and Beverly Smith

  • Judi Sittler, recipient of the distinguished service award in the youth education arena. Sittler has volunteer tirelessly for the Spring Creek Chapter in Pennsylvania. She helped create a Trout in the Classroom hybrid program for the YMCA, and she’s been a key volunteer at every TU Youth Summit.


Phil Hulbert with Mick McCorcle

  • Phil Hulbert, recipient of the conservation professional award. Hulbert is the chief of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries, and has served the ideals of Trout Unlimited since 1977. Hulbert has always brought the voice of TU to New York conservation work, and his work to protect native brook trout in the Empire State is unmatched.
  • Hal Herring, recipient of the conservation communications award. Herring’s folksy South Alabama accent belies the fact that he is perhaps the most effective writer in the country when it comes to speaking truth to power, even when it’s inconvenient. Herring’s work spans several vital conservation issues, including a recent piece in TROUT magazine that debunked the so-called dangers involved in the use of rotenone to help restore native trout in their home waters.

In addition to honoring the above individuals, TU also honored two corporate conservation partners: The Orvis Co., and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. The latter has been a long-time partner in helping TU clean up and restore dozens of waters impacted by abandoned mine pollution all over America. More recently, Tiffany & Co. has been a very vocal opponent of the effort to construct Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed of Alaska.


Dave Perkins of Orvis accepts the Conservation Partner award from Chris Wood.

Orvis has worked with TU for decades to make fishing better all across the country. Most recently, TU and Orvis have partnered on the very successful 1,000 Miles Campaign. Orvis matches its customers’ donations to the campaign—up to $90,000 every year—and provides vital seed funding for dozens of projects that reconnect trout streams by removing culverts that block fish passage. To date, Orvis and TU, through this campaign, have reconnected more than 500 stream miles, opening up new fishable water and priceless spawning habitat for wild and native trout and salmon all over America.

Finally, TU also honored a number of its chapters and state councils for their great work over the last year. They are:

  • The Tennessee Council, State Council Award for Excellence
  • Tiadaghton Chapter, Pennsylvania, Gold Trout Award
  • Kitsap-Olympic Peninsula Chapter, Silver Trout Award


For more information on these awards, and more details about all of the awards given out at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Scranton, Pa. visit tu.org/awards.



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