National Wildlife Refuge System

National Honors for Midwest Region

White Earth Ojibwe Tribal youth at Tamarac Refuge, MN
White Earth Ojibwe Tribal youth at Tamarac Refuge, MN
Credit:Joe Courneya/4H American Indian Youth Program

A 4-H program and two national wildlife refuges have been honored at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, GA, where senior special agent Dan Burleson received the 2012 Guy Bradley Award for wildlife law enforcement.

A Minnesota 4-H GIS (geographic information systems) mapping team worked with student interns at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, MN, and Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA.  Tamarac Refuge visitor services manager Kelly Blackledge explains that students from the Detroit Lakes and White Earth Nation used their GIS mapping devices to locate, photograph and document the condition of Tamarac's major directional signs, interpretive signs, kiosks and historical markers. They also learned how to use GIS to create new layers of information on their iPads.  New projects will likely include trails and wildlife habitat documentation.

Tamarac Refuge manager Neil Powers says, “Accurate documentation of assets on the refuge is important to the refuge system, especially when it comes to federal allocation of funding.”

Projects like this benefit the students as well as the refuge, explains 4-H project coordinator and University of Minnesota extension educator Joe Courneya, “Youth from the White Earth Nation are able to see potential employment and volunteer opportunities that may lead to careers with the Service.”

The two refuges and the 4-H team received the Connecting Youth with Nature through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award for the program that teaches work skills used heavily in natural resource and environmental fields.  Students leave with a demonstrated skill set and resume, as well as what the Service hopes will be the passion to pursue degrees and careers in wildlife biology and natural resource management. 

The Service and 4-H will expand the program this year to new sites that will focus on urban and disadvantaged youth who are new to 4-H and conservation.

2012 Guy Bradley Award

Named after the first wildlife officer killed in the line of duty in 1905, the Guy Bradley Award is presented by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to recognize individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law enforcement.

Award winner Dan Burleson has worked in conservation law enforcement for more than 30 years. He was honored for his success in completing high-profile investigations that helped safeguard wildlife resources in the United States and Canada. His efforts helped expose the illegal harvest and trafficking of surgeon and other fishery resources. Burleson also infiltrated a multi-state ring of wildlife traffickers who were killing captive tigers for the trophy and exotic meat trades.

Last updated: March 20, 2012