Tom Koerner honored as TU Conservation Professional of 2018

By Nick Walrath

I was standing next to my truck, reluctantly taking off my waders after a great fall fishing outing on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. I had been fishing with my great friend and Seedskadee refuge manager, Tom Koerner.

The almost famous joking tag line from Tom was still ringing in my head.

“Glad you got to see me.”

I’ve worked with Tom for seven years and he says this every time we depart. The local Trout Unlimited Seedskadee Chapter and I have worked with Tom on projects on and off the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge to improve trout habitat in southwestern Wyoming.

Tom is always looking for ways to improve the refuge and provide volunteer opportunities at the same time—from cottonwood and willow planting, to moose counts. Two years ago, Tom and his crew donated time and equipment to do road improvements so the chapter could haul fencing materials to a small Colorado River cutthroat trout stream.

A lucky angler enjoys a bent rod while fishing the Green River on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Tom Koerner photo.

Aside from the project work, in his free time as a chapter member he always goes out of his way to make sure new members of the chapter know where to fish or shares techniques that are working to fool trout on the refuge.

This fish screen placed at an irrigation ditch prevents fish from ending up in rfuge ponds where they would eventually die. Trout Unlimited photo.

For all these reasons, and many more, I was proud to nominate Tom for an award from Trout Unlimited.

Tom was recently announced as winner of the 2018 Conservation Professional as part of TU’s annual Trout Conservation Awards. I can’t think of a more deserving person.

Tom couldn’t make it to the annual meeting in Redding, California, so Wyoming TU Council member Werner Studer accepted the award for him. The Wyoming Council will honor Tom with the award during an upcoming council meeting.

As I drove away from the river that day I thought to myself I am glad I got to see Tom today.

Next time you find yourself in southwest Wyoming make sure to carve out some time to go up to the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge and see Tom – you will be glad you did.

Nick Walrath is the Green River Project Manager for Trout Unlimited. He lives in Green River, Wyoming, and is a member of the Seedskadee Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

By Brett Prettyman.