Fish & Wildlife Service Header

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Presents Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Wildlife Conservation


March 5, 2002

Elsie Davis, 404/679-7107

New Orleans, LA: In New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 4, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Southeast Regional Director Sam D. Hamilton presented Regional Director’s Conservation Awards to two people and an organization that are making exceptional contributions to wildlife conservation in the Southeast. Individual awards were given to Kathleen Paynter of the Friends of Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and Don McKenzie of the Wildlife Management Institute in Arkansas. An organizational award was presented to the United States Coast Guard, seventh Coast Guard District (Florida).

Regional Director’s Conservation Awards are presented annually to people or organizations that are making extraordinary contributions to natural resources and their management in the Southeast, particularly those for which the Service has a responsibility. The awards were given during the Service’s annual Southeast Project Leaders’ Meeting at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Convention Center Boulevard in New Orleans.

“I am proud to present these awards,” said Hamilton. “All of the recipients display tireless dedication, enthusiasm, and initiative in accomplishing their work. They are valuable partners with the Fish and Wildlife Service in wildlife conservation.”

Kathleen Paynter, a medical transcriptionist and volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, volunteered 1,280 hours last year to care for wildlife, most of which are at the Lake Woodruff refuge in DeLeon Springs, Florida. At the age of 14, Paynter began her wildlife career when she rehabilitated a squirrel. Since 1987, she has donated over 19,000 hours to sick and injured wildlife, while maintaining a 40-hour-week, full-time job. Although she accepts some donations toward her work, such as food, blankets, and towels, Paynter averages personal expenses of $4,000 to $6,000 each year.

“Kathy is a behind-the-scenes unsung hero. Her devotion comes from a love of wild things,” said Hamilton.

Don McKenzie is the Southeast Field Representative of the Wildlife Management Institute and the President of the Arkansas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. He is actively involved in the protection of the White River Basin in Arkansas. McKenzie developed an alternative to a Corps of Engineers project, the Grand Prairie Project, impacting our refuges in the basin. This alternative would not involve pumping from the White River and would cost only half the funds budgeted by the Corps. In addition, he used the Corps’ own studies to come up with a workable and sustainable solution to the declining water supply in the Grand Prairie aquifer in eastern Arkansas.

“Don’s professional and personal commitment to protect the White River Basin has been unrelenting. His support and teamwork with the Service, as well as others, have been invaluable,” said Hamilton.

The Office of Law Enforcement of the United States Coast Guard’s Seventh District, headquartered in Miami, has been actively involved in the protection of the West Indian Manatee in Florida. The office, led by Lieutenant Commander David Cinalli, has completed over 1,500 enforcement boardings for protection of manatees, and more than 700 notices of violation have been issued since 1999.

“With the assistance of the Seventh District, manatee protection is extremely enhanced, affecting the survival of this great natural resource. For all the efforts of the entire Coast Guard team, from command to enforcement, we honor your commitment and partnership,” said Hamilton.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores national significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

| Home | Privacy Information | Site Map | Contact Site Administration | Got Fish & Wildlife Questions?