Employees with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have been recognized by a plethora of local, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and other natural resources-related organizations for their contributions to fisheries, wildlife, and habitat management and conservation, as well as the protection of the state's wildlife and its citizens.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission bestows the prestigious Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award and Lawrence G. Deidrick Small Game Award to recipients who have made outstanding contributions to wildlife and wildlife conservation in North Carolina.
The Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award recognizes individuals who provide leadership in the conservation of wildlife diversity in North Carolina. The award is named for the late Thomas Quay, a retired professor of zoology at N.C. State University who passed away in 2012. A self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist,” Quay served on a variety of conservation boards while lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes.
2022 Recipient - Jean Beasley, Surf City
Jean Beasley, founding director of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, received the 2022 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award during the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s October business meeting in Cherokee. She was recognized for her incredible work rehabilitating and returning to the wild more than 1,000 sea turtles, along with establishing the volunteer-based Topsail Turtle Project and improving conservation measures benefitting sea turtles
Beasley first encountered a nesting loggerhead sea turtle while vacationing with her family in Topsail Beach. That experience led to the inception of the Topsail Turtle Project, formed in the 1980s to monitor and protect nesting turtles, incubating eggs and emergent hatchling on Topsail Island.
Following her daughter Karen’s untimely death in 1991, Beasley and her family followed Karen’s wishes to “do something good for the sea turtles” with her life insurance money. Knowing the Beasleys were already protecting sea turtle nests, people soon began bringing sick and injured sea turtles to the family. It quickly became apparent that a facility dedicated to the turtles’ care, rehabilitation and release was needed, prompting the creation of the Beasley Center.
The Beasley Center has served as a model for grassroots sea turtle rescue programs. Beasley was the first volunteer-based program leader elected to the board of directors of the International Sea Turtle Society. She fostered advances in sea turtle medicine and biology and has overseen a community of hundreds of volunteers in the Topsail Island Nest Protection Program and the Sea Turtle Hospital. She managed the growth of the Beasley Center from a 900 square foot facility that opened in 1996 to a 13,000 square foot facility in 2013 that treats over 100 turtles per year. Beasley headed the Center until her retirement at the end of 2021.
2021 Recipient - Duane Raver, Garner, NC (awarded posthumously)
Duane Raver, a former fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and former editor of the agency's flagship publication Wildlife in North Carolina, was named the 2021 recipient of the Thomas L. Quay Award. Raver, who died on Feb. 15, was awarded the honor posthumously. Raver received the award for his many artistic contributions over the years to fish and wildlife conservation in North Carolina.
He began his career at the NCWRC in 1949 and was instrumental in developing the fisheries division; however, it was his artistic talent that made him a standout and advanced his career. Raver was an illustrator and painter who had a profound influence on the conservation of wildlife through his artwork that demonstrated the beauty and character of numerous wildlife species. He developed a column called Nature’s Ways, which often featured species that were unfamiliar to much of the public and illustrated features of their life histories. He was also the artist for many previous Quay awards, in which he provided original artwork for the recipients that reflected their individual contributions to the conservation of nongame fauna. The impact of Raver’s artwork on scientists, outdoor enthusiasts, students and citizens across the globe is unmeasurable. His portrayals of fishes, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles bring to life the rich ecological diversity in North Carolina from the mountains to the sea.
Raver generously shared his work with conservation and scientific organizations to help in fundraising efforts and promotion of wildlife conservation. His work exposed many people to species they would otherwise be unlikely to observe.
While his health had been in decline for some time, Raver never stopped pursuing his passion with a paintbrush, continuing to produce art up until a few days before he passed away.
Raver was nominated in 2021 by former colleagues who were planning to present him with the award at his home earlier this month. The high spread of COVID this winter prevented them from making the visit. “We’ve been waiting for months to present Duane with this award,” said the Executive Director of the Wildlife Commission, Cameron Ingram. “We were able to drop off the award a few days before his passing, but it would have been really special to have expressed our appreciation and gratitude for his work and dedication to wildlife conservation in person.”
2020 Recipient - Allen Boynton, Troutdale, Va.
Allen Boynton, a former Assistant Chief of the Commission's Wildlife Management Division, received the 2020 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award during the Commissioners' business meeting on April 22, 2021. Executive Director Cameron Ingram read the "Resolution of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Honoring Allen Boynton" and presented Boynton with a portrait depicting a few of Boynton's favorite wildlife species, painted by Dr. Keith Bridle, a former member of the agency's Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee.
With close to 40 years’ experience with two state wildlife agencies (18 years in Virginia and 20 years in North Carolina), Boynton has devoted his career to the conservation and restoration of wildlife in the Southeast. In Va., Allen headed up a successful elk reintroduction effort in the state, often collaborating with neighboring states on their elk reintroductions. Allen was the principal biologist working to restore Peregrine Falcon to western NC; his successful involvement in a complicated project yielded him the Management Excellence Award from the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society. While working for the NCWRC, Allen was the premier biologist to initiate bat monitoring in the state and he co-led the work to develop NC species conservation plans for state listed species, starting with American alligator. He was instrumental in organizing and mediating a stakeholder committee who developed NCWRC’s Alligator Management Plan, by successfully navigating competing interests and shaping a contentious process. Allen worked hard to develop separate State Wildlife Grants for Cooperative Research and participated in the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, which seeks to find a new model for conservation funding. Allen retired from the NCWRC in 2018.
While there is so much more that could be mentioned of Allen’s professional accomplishments, his non-professional influences were great as well. Allen is a passionate and avid birder, photographer and iNaturalist user. He has personally contributed over 1,286 observations of 627 species on iNaturalist, identifying species in 7,419 posts. He is a longtime, ardent supporter of the Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally and received the honor of being the keynote speaker at the 44th Spring Rally in 2018. Combining his love of the rally, Mt. Rogers and birds, Allen has often led bird trips since 2008.
Leading by example, Allen has helped develop future generations of would-be conservationists and naturalists through his patient demeanor, big-picture thinking, uncanny strategic abilities, kind and empathetic mediation, demonstration of working well under pressure, and down to earth practicality, encouraging everyone to find their passion and balance in life.
The Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award recognizes efforts in habitat management, education, research, the Hunting Heritage Program, or other meaningful contributions that benefit small game. In some cases, small game populations may benefit significantly from efforts focused on non-game or other species with similar habitat requirements. The award is given annually, or when appropriate, to individuals and organizations whose actions significantly and positively impact any of North Carolina’s small game populations (bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, squirrel, rabbit). The award is named for the late Larry Diedrick, a lawyer and wildlife commissioner from Rocky Mount who passed away in 2002. Diedrick was a passionate small game hunter and strong conservation advocate throughout his lifetime.
2022 Recipients - Kathryn Rand Booher, Rocky Point - Indvidual; Wake County Wildlife Club, Organization
Kathy Rand Booher's actions and financial support have contributed to bobwhite quail conservation, including habitat improvements, greater public access, education and advocacy. She is a strong financial supporter and active volunteer of the Southeast North Carolina Chapter of Quail Forever (SENC) and the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative. She’s the liaison between the SENC and the Wildlife Commission, and with her assistance, the agency created 7,000 acres of “Quail Trails” on Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County. The trails have improved access to and the management of early succession habitat, which have enhanced small game hunting opportunities and benefited many non-game species. Booher has overseen efforts to manage a longleaf pine forest through thinning and prescribed burns on over 340 acres of her family’s land. The direct impact of this work has improved both the habitat and the quail population. Leading by example, she has encouraged other private landowners to effectively manage their own property to enhance habitat for bobwhite quail
As a leader in conservation education, the Wake County Wildlife Club has impacted young people who have gone on to pursue careers in the wildlife field and created conservationists with an appreciation for the natural world by highlighting the critical role that sportsmen and women play in the conservation of wildlife resources. Best known for hosting the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh, the club has had impacts that reach well beyond the annual big game event. Specifically, the club hosts countless workshops aimed at hunter safety, wildlife-associated recreation, education and diversity in hunting. The WCWC is also the primary non-governmental supporter of the Fur, Fish and Game Rendezvous held each year at Millstone 4-H Camp in Ellerbe. The club offers scholarships to send teenagers to this unique weeklong camp.In 2020, club officials updated the forest management plan for their 191-acre Durham County property to include commercial thinning, pre-commercial thinning and prescribed burning. These initiatives will better educate visitors about the importance of habitat management and will also improve habitat for small game on the property.
2019 Recipient - Tim Eaton, Yadkinville
Shikar-Safari Club International is a conservation organization that recognizes conservation officers across the nation annually who show outstanding performance and achievement. This year Shikar-Safari Club International named Master Officer Darby D. W. Enoch as its 2020 North Carolina Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Officer Enoch has been a N.C. Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer since 2013. He was selected for this honor due to his exemplary conduct and initiative in the performance of his duties. Officer Enoch serves as a field training for new wildlife officers, as well as serving as a general instructor, ASP Instructor, Subject Control Arrest Technique (SCAT) Instructor, Physical Fitness Instructor and a TASER Instructor.
The Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), consisting of 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, annually recognizes significant contributions to fisheries management. Jeff Evans, Superintendent at Watha State Fish Hatchery, was the recipient of the 2020 SEAFWA Fisheries Biologist of the Year Award. Throughout his career, Jeff has freely shared his knowledge and expertise on the culture of warmwater fishes, specifically American Shad, Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass. He has provided technical guidance to multiple states starting their own American Shad propagation efforts. He provides insight into the production aspect of proposed research projects and has worked with multiple universities to assist with research by providing data, fish and technical guidance.
Each year, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) honors individuals for their commitment to conservation. The highest honor is the Seth Gordon Award, given to the individual who has worked steadfastly and effectively for the best use of North American natural resources in the public trust and for contributions to the programs of the Association. Throughout Gordon Myers’ nearly 30-year career with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, including 12 years as Executive Director, his contributions as a public administrator and advocate for public trust resource management were significant.
Capt. Steve Bullins with the agency’s Law Enforcement Division was the recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Award, the highest honor a state employee may receive for dedicated service to the State of North Carolina and its residents, for “Safety and Heroism.” On Jan. 8, 2020 at approximately 9 p.m., Capt. Bullins was in his office at his residence when he heard a loud noise that he thought may be a gunshot. Capt. Bullins rushed to get his uniform on and proceeded in his patrol vehicle onto Roaring Gap Church Road to locate the potential unlawful poaching activity. Unable to locate the suspected vehicle on the roadway, Capt. Bullins redirected his attention to the agriculture areas off the roadway. Capt. Bullins noticed some flashing lights in a ravine in a cow pasture off the road. He initiated his emergency lights and contacted NCWRC communications of a possible vehicle accident. As he approached on foot, he found a vehicle on its side that had collided with a large tree. He was unable to contact anyone verbally in the vehicle and noticed gas pouring from the gas tank. Unfortunately, Capt. Bullins had witnessed a similar situation like this earlier in his career when emergency personnel were unable to free a person from a burning vehicle, which resulted in the motorist’s death. Capt. Bullins’ experiences aided his accelerated response to free the driver of the wrecked vehicle. He climbed on the top side of the truck and yelled to the driver for a response. The driver made a mumbling noise and was unable to make any movements to exit the vehicle. Capt. Bullins was able to reach the driver through the driver’s side window and pull him from the wreckage. The driver suffered from head trauma, a broken arm, cuts and loss of blood. Capt. Bullins displayed a great deal of courage in this emergency by risking his life to save another.
2022 Sportsman of the Year Commissioner Wes Seegars
Presented by the N.C. Wildlife Federation, this award was given to Commissioner Seegars recognizing the vital role he’s played in enhancing small game populations and habitats on public and private lands, conserving black bears, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, and expanding waterfowl hunting opportunities.
2017 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Commissioner Mark Craig
Presented by the N.C. Wildlife Federation, this award was given to Commissioner Craig recognizing the outstanding work he has accomplished for nongame wildlife in North Carolina. He has served on the Commission's Habitat, Nongame and Endangered Species Committee since 2014, where he seeks and employs sound science and leadership to advocate sustainable recommendations for wildlife management.
2017 Order of the Long Leaf Pine Commissioner Wes Seegars
Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their hightest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
2016 Land Conservationist of the Year Commissioner Tom Berry
Presented by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, the Land Conservationist of the Year recognizes individuals that demonstrate an unwavering commitment to conservation and an exceptional resolve in protecting natural resources across the state.