BHA Bestows Top Honors at North American Rendezvous

News for Immediate Release
May 17, 2022
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

 MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers bestowed its top honors on a suite of deserving recipients at the 11th annual BHA North American Rendezvous, held in Missoula, Montana, May 12-14. BHA’s annual awards honor unequalled commitment, tireless effort and ongoing dedication to public lands and waters, fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing.

BHA's Collegiate Club members throw their hats into the air to celebrate their graduations.

The 2022 honorees follow:

BHA’s Sigurd F. Olson Award recognizes outstanding effort conserving rivers, lakes or wetland habitat. The 2022 Olson award was presented to Lukas Leaf and Spencer Shaver, longtime advocates for the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with both Lukas and Spencer,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney of the honorees, who have worked for years for Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. “It is an honor to recognize their steadfast contributions to the Boundary Waters. Their commitment, backcountry bona fides, and good nature helped carry the day for a 20-year moratorium on a mine proposed just a stone’s throw from the most visited wilderness in America. For that we are grateful.”

The Aldo Leopold Award honors exceptional work and dedication to the conservation of terrestrial wildlife habitat. Liz Lynch, a BHA Wyoming chapter leader from Jackson, is the recipient of the 2022 Leopold award.

“Liz is a gifted communicator and storyteller,” said Brien Webster, BHA program manager and Wyoming chapter coordinator. “She is a natural coalition builder and has a knack for finding ways to have a meaningful impact, to bring people together, to provide thoughtful solutions to help us advance our mission. Whether Liz is organizing educational forums, representing BHA in working groups, developing communications plans, or drafting chapter position statements, she is finding effective ways to reach the public.”

The Jim Posewitz Award acknowledges outstanding ethical behavior in the field and the education of the outdoor public on the importance of ethical behavior. The winner of the 2022 Posewitz award is Mike Woods, of East Providence, Rhode Island.

“Mike brings a unique set of talents and skills that has helped BHA be a galvanizing force in the region on issues as diverse as preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease, public shoreline access or the recovery of the East’s most iconic saltwater fish, the striped bass,” said Chris Borgatti, New York and New England chapter coordinator. “Despite a relentless schedule of legislative and regulatory meetings and hearings, or the responsibilities that come with being a chapter chair, he makes it a point to generously give of his time by mentoring youth hunters through his state fish and game agency. He also is a regular at chapter mentorship opportunities offered throughout New England.”

BHA’s Rachel Carson Award honors young leaders for outstanding work on behalf of hunting, angling and conservation. This year’s winner, Mateen Hessami, is a longtime BHA college club leader, having served as president of the club at the University of Montana before taking on leadership of the club at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he is attending grad school.

“As a leader of the club, he spearheaded efforts to receive the Public Land Owner Stewardship grant two years in a row, working to restore and protect crucial wildlife habitat with diverse stakeholders including First Nations,” said BHA R3 Coordinator Trey Curtiss. “Additionally, he most recently created and led the Sky to Skillet Initiative, an R3 effort to create a gear library for students and introduce new hunters to waterfowl hunting.”

2022 saw BHA launch a new award, the AFI Volunteer of the Year. The winner was nominated and chosen by their fellow volunteers based on the positive impact they have had on BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative, the military community, and the United States of America. This year’s AFI honoree is Marty Bartram from the great state of North Carolina.

“This man exceeded the standard of veterans,” said BHA AFI Coordinator Trevor Hubbs. “He put on five camps last year with five more planned for 2022 – these will service over 300 members of the military community.  

“He is a trusted advisor to one of our strongest chapters in the East,” continued Hubbs, “and he has been instrumental in the management of policies and procedures for our Fort Bragg chapter as well as the initial startup of every other active-duty installation we are operating on.”

The Larry Fischer Award honors the memory and contributions of a longtime BHA board member by recognizing exceptional dedication by a business to BHA’s mission. The 2021 Fischer awardee is Traeger.

“Traeger is the epitome of a partner,” said BHA Development Coordinator Josh Mills. “It’s not about the ad in the magazine, or the social media posts, but how they always support Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. They support with their funds, they support with their product, they support us in any way we ask. It’s a partnership built out of years of collaboration, and we owe Traeger a gigantic debt of gratitude as they’ve fueled a great deal of BHA’s growth over the years. From grills at small pint nights to grilling 600 bison burgers at our North American Rendezvous, there’s no more deserving partner than Traeger.”

The Ted Trueblood Award is bestowed by BHA for outstanding communications on behalf of backcountry habitat and values. The 2022 Trueblood award was presented to journalist Rob Drieslein, editor and publisher of Outdoor News, a suite of outdoor publications that are published in states across the Great Lakes region.

“Rob Drieslein not only is an expert communicator,” said Katie McKalip, BHA communications director. “He also embodies the ethos that unites all of us in the family that is BHA. Most importantly he is as driven by and passionate about the backcountry experience as all of us are.

“This is what BHA envisioned when we conceived of the Ted Trueblood Award,” McKalip stated. “Someone who doesn’t just report on the backcountry experience, but who lives it out, every day.”

The George Bird Grinnell Award honors the outstanding BHA chapter of the year. BHA’s Arkansas chapter was presented with the 2022 award. 

“This year’s Grinnell winner has excelled on many fronts,” said Tim Brass, BHA state policy and field operations director. “Just recently, the Arkansas chapter successfully stopped the sale of an important 6,300 acre chunk of public ground vital to local hunters by activating more than 2,000 fellow public land advocates to join in the fight to keep to it public. After stopping the proposed public land sale, they worked collaboratively with other groups to secure a solution to keep it public in perpetuity.

“As a relatively new, independent BHA chapter," Brass said, “the rapid growth and increasing sophistication of this chapter is most certainly worth recognition.”

Lastly, the Mike Beagle-Chairman’s Award, named after a BHA founder, is given to an individual who shows outstanding effort on behalf of BHA. The 2022 Beagle award winner is Joel Webster, of Missoula, Montana, a former co-chair of BHA’s North American board who is the vice president of conservation at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.  

“Joel worked closely with BHA Chairman Mike Beagle in the early days to shape the vision and trajectory of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers at a critical time in the organization’s formative years,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “I can attest to his leadership and unwavering commitment to the conservation of our wildest backcountry lands.”

See a list of past BHA award winners.

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About Katie McKalip

Vice president, communications and marketing, Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society