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Commission Hears Plans for Foundation Hall of Fame Event

August 6, 2021

Commission Hears Plans for Foundation Hall of Fame Event

Longtime Commissioner John D. Groendyke to Be Honored at Fundraiser

In its regular August meeting Monday, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission heard about plans for the first major fundraising event being organized by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation, and also recognized several employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for various annual awards and for reaching service milestones. 

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Rick Grundman, Foundation executive director, announced the inaugural Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame induction event and banquet will honor former longtime Wildlife Commissioner John D. Groendyke of Enid. The event will be held Oct. 29, 2021, at the new Omni Hotel in Oklahoma City. More information should be available soon at the OWCF’s website, www.okwildlifefoundation.org

ODWC’s Fisheries Division announced Shane Lewis as its 2020 Fisheries Professional of the Year. Lewis serves as assistant manager of the Durant Fish Hatchery, believed to be the largest freshwater fish hatchery in the United States. For the past several years, Lewis has worked to oversee extensive renovations at the hatchery. 

ODWC’s Wildlife Division announced Thad Potts as its 2020 Wildlife Biologist of the Year. He oversees wildlife management for WMAs scattered across six counties in northwestern Oklahoma including Canton, Dewey County, Drummond Flats, Major County and Sandhills. Among many projects he’s involved with, Potts has been working with the U.S. Air Force to conduct bird surveys for restoration work at Drummond Flats WMA near Vance Air Force Base. 

Also, six ODWC employees with a combined 150 years of service to the sportsmen and sportswomen of Oklahoma received tenure awards from Department Director J.D. Strong. They are Fisheries Technician David Routledge, 35 years; Fisheries Biologist Keith Thomas, 35 years; Wildlife Technician Tony Crawford, 20 years; Wildlife Biologist Thad Potts, 20 years; Game Warden Supervisor James Edwards Jr., 20 years; and Game Warden Rusty Menefee, 20 years. 

In other business, Commissioners: 

  • Accepted the donation of a 16-foot boat and 40-hp motor from Edward “Andy” Gresham for use in the Law Enforcement 
  • Received updates on ODWC’s activities in various divisions since the previous meetingfrom Director Strong, including notice of the approaching Aug. 6 cut-off to buy tickets for the inaugural Outdoor Oklahoma Adventures raffle program. Drawings are to be held for 14 prizes, including exclusive opportunities to hunt for a cow elk, take a guided dove hunt, fish with pro angler Jimmy Houston, and various outdoor experiences with ODWC staff members. All proceeds from Outdoor Oklahoma Adventures benefit wildlife conservation, research, and public hunting and fishing in Oklahoma. Entries can be purchased online through Go Outdoors Oklahoma. Price is $10 per ticket, $30 for a bundle of five tickets, or $50 for the Ultimate Bundle that enters one ticket in all 14 raffles. There's no limit on the number of entries that each participant may buy. 
  • Learned that more than 100 people from OG+E and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services have recently been certified as fishing instructors so they can conduct fishing clinics.  
  • Honored Commissioner Bruce Mabrey for his service as the Commission's chairman during the past year.

Gathered for the 2020 Fisheries Professional of the Year presentation are, from left, ODWC Director J.D. Strong, Fisheries Chief Barry Bolton, Durant Hatchery Assistant Manager Shane Lewis, ODWC Assistant Director Wade Free, and Fisheries Assistant Chief Ken Cunningham. (Don P. Brown/ODWC)

Gathered for the 2020 Wildlife Biologist of the Year presentation are, from left, ODWC Director J.D. Strong, Wildlife Assistant Chief Russ Horton, Wildlife Biologist Thad Potts, Wildlife Chief Bill Dinkines, and ODWC Assistant Director Wade Free. (Don P. Brown/ODWC)

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The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate. 

To view a video recording of the June regular meeting, go to https://youtu.be/0_ANNm-KElY. The next scheduled Commission meeting will be Sept. 7, 2021, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.