The Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award was established in 2000 by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to recognize someone who has made significant contributions to the conservation of natural resources in the Commonwealth and is presented whenever warranted by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. The Sargent Award is named for former Governor Francis W. Sargent, an avid conservationist and outdoorsman who served as Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in 1963 and '64.
Sargent Award recipients
George Peterson Jr, Grafton—2017
George Peterson Jr, former House Representative and Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, received the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award from the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board for his contributions to the sporting community and to the conservation of the Commonwealth’s natural resources.
Peterson, a hunter and angler for most of his life, studied at the UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture for a short time but went into the US Army in 1969 where he served for two years. He worked with friends who were commercial fishermen in Gloucester and Rockport before becoming an owner of a small retail/wholesale seafood business in North Grafton. He first became involved in politics serving on the Grafton Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen. Elected as a state representative in the 9th Worcester District in 1994, Peterson sat on the Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rules Committees and served as the House Minority Whip and later as the assistant minority leader. His interest in the outdoors continued throughout his tenure in the Legislature, supporting legislation and other efforts to protect natural resources and promote outdoor recreation. Peterson was a strong advocate for the Blackstone River, participating in the 2000 Blackstone Expedition, a four-day paddle from Worcester to Providence. He retired from the legislature in 2014.
In February of 2015, Peterson was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game by Governor Charlie Baker. For over two years, he worked on the issues he cared deeply care about — habitat conservation, fisheries management, ecological restoration, and enhancement of public access to the Bay State’s lands and waters, and outdoor activities such a hunting and fishing.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council—2015
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) received Sargent Award from the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board for its conservation of the Commonwealth’s natural resources and for its contributions to the sporting community. BNRC is the twelfth recipient of the prestigious award, established in 2000 by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to honor the former governor and noted conservationist who directed the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) in 1963.
Members of the BNRC, including Board Chairman Tim Crane of Windsor and President/CEO Tad Ames of Williamstown, were on hand to receive the award – a hand-carved wooden loon decoy created by Geoff Walker of Hank Walker Decoys of Newbury – at a ceremony held at the Steadman Pond Reserve, Monterey and Tyringham. In addition to Chairman George Darey, the ceremony included other members of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, MassWildlife Director Jack Buckley, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner George Peterson, other state officials, and representatives from the sporting and conservation community.
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council has been working for more than 45 years protecting the open spaces of Berkshire County to ensure the ecological integrity and public enjoyment of the region’s outdoor resources. BNRC owns and manages 8,600 acres and protects an additional 10,011 acres through conservation restrictions.
A variety of user groups have benefitted from the BNRC/MassWildlife partnership; the sporting community is no exception. Thousands of acres in Berkshire County have been opened for hunting, fishing, and trapping as a result of that cooperation. BNRC Reserves are a great example of how a different user groups can coexist. The importance of hunter access is becoming ever more apparent as wildlife populations expand and proper management is required to maintain social and ecological tolerance.
The partnership between MassWildlife and BNRC has been exceptionally successful. Partnership highlights include:
- 1979 – First partnerships between MassWildlife and BNRC along the Housatonic River in Lenox
- 7,656 – Total acreage protected involving BNRC and MassWildlife
- 19 – Number of WMAs and WCEs where BNRC and MassWildlife have worked cooperatively
- 8.9 million – Total investment to protect lands where BNRC and MassWildlife were involved
- 47 – Number of projects jointly involving BNRC and MassWildlife 1979-2015
- >2,000 – Number of acres under joint management
- 6,000 – Acres protected 2001–present in partnership with BNRC
Stephen Brewer, Barre—2014
Stephen Brewer grew up on a dairy farm in Barre with a lifelong passion for the outdoors, enjoying hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation in central Massachusetts. He has long been recognized as a leader for the protection of land, water, fish and wildlife in the Bay State.
Brewer spent many of his 35 years in the legislature in advocating for the environment. He served 4 terms in the House of Representatives and then in 1996 was elected to the State Senate where he served through the 2014 legislative session. As a State Senator, he represented a district of 28 central and western Massachusetts towns, the second largest in the Commonwealth. He served as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and on the Natural Resources Committee. During his time in the legislature, Brewer was instrumental in maintaining the Inland Fish and Game Fund, supporting the Paraplegic Deer Hunt and the Quabbin Deer Hunt. A friend of the sportsmen, Brewer placed the preservation of open space and agricultural land protection as a top priority and worked to conserve thousands of acres of land in Worcester & Franklin County.
Responsible water and forest resource management was also a high priority with support for protecting the Quabbin Reservoir and the formation of the Ware River Watershed Advisory Council. He is the former Chairman of the Special Commission on Forest Products and initiated funding for the Continuous Forest Inventory.
An active member of the local community, Brewer has served on local organizations including the Barre Library Association, South Barre Rod and Gun Club, and the North Worcester County Quabbin Anglers Association. Brewer is a multi-year recipient of the Massachusetts Sportsman’s Council Award and the Worcester County League of Sportsmen’s Legislator of the Year. He was also the recipient of the Sentinel Goose Award from Ducks Unlimited.
Mike Moss, Millbury—2013
An avid hunter and fisherman in New England and Canada, Moss has been a passionate and involved member in sportsmen’s organizations since his teenage years. Moss is the President of the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council, a post he has held for the past 18 years. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association and is also President of the Worcester Fish & Game Club. Moss has been a member, delegate, or officer in numerous sporting clubs and organizations including the Singletary Rod and Gun Club, Webster Fish and Game Club, Worcester County League of Sportsmen, Worcester Surf Casting Club, Canal Sportsmen’s Club and the Massachusetts Bowhunters Association.
Mike Moss has been a staunch protector of sportsmen’s interests. Through the Sportsmen’s Council, Mike actively engaged with legislators, state and federal agencies to weigh in on proposed sporting laws or actions to ensure the continuation of hunting, fishing and trapping traditions in Massachusetts.
Mindful of the efforts of other sportsmen and women, Moss actively sought to recognize their contributions through naming boating access sites and sporting properties on both public and private lands. He also instituted the Council’s most prestigious award, the Raymond L. Gribbons Scholarship, in honor of a longtime Worcester County sportsman and outdoor writer and mentor to Moss.
Robert Durand, Marlborough—2011
Robert (Bob) Durand is a lifelong sportsman with an outstanding record of environmental public service. He worked with the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Fish and Game as well as with sporting groups to help pass a number of sportsmen related priorities such as land acquisition funding, range protection, rivers protection and presumption of openness policy on state lands. He is an avid flyfisherman as well as a deer, grouse, and turkey hunter who has traveled the country fishing and hunting.
Durand served four terms as a state representative for Marlborough and Berlin and then served as State Senator for the Middlesex-Worcester District for another four terms. During that time, he authored the first-in the Nation Rivers Protection Act, sponsored the Brownfields Act, wrote and co-sponsored the Community Preservation Act and championed the Open Space Bond Bill, the state's major open space acquisition funding mechanism.
As Secretary of Environmental Affairs under Governors Cellucci and Swift, 150,000 acres of publicly owned and accessible acres were protected in a 4 year period in partnership with land trusts, foundations, private landowners as well as local and federal agencies. These lands are open to hunting, fishing, trapping, birding and other wildlife-related recreation He created the Community Preservation Institute with the five University of Massachusetts college campuses. The first-in-the-nation Biodiversity Days were created engaging 50,000 volunteers and 500 schools across the state in a three-day Massachusetts Bio-Blitz.
Bob collaborated with New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers on global climate change action and mercury reduction and assisted in establishing tough power plant regulations requiring benchmarks for reductions in carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury. In the realm of Environmental justice and urban issues, Durand established incentive based environmental justice policies, provided funding assistance and streamlined brownfields redevelopment and established an Urban Rivers Initiative that provides grants to revitalized urban waterfronts. Environmental education accomplishments include collaboration with the Department of Education to integrate environmental education into the K-12 science, technology, history and social studies curriculum.
Bob has received numerous awards from sportsmen and other conservation groups including the Mahar Fish 'N Game Club, Massachusetts Bowhunters Association, Essex and Middlesex County Leagues of Sportsmen, Massachusetts Wildlife Federation, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Gun Owner's Action League and the Nature Conservancy.
Bob Durand is president of Durand and Anastas Environmental Strategies and also serves as the president and of the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Gwilym S. Jones, Framingham—2009
Dr. Gwilym (Gwil) S. Jones, a Professor of Biology and mammalogist, came to Massachusetts from Indiana in 1976 to teach at Northeastern University’s Department of Biology. Dr. Jones received his Ph.D. from Indiana State University, a Masters of Science degree from Purdue University in Indiana and his bachelor’s degree from Hanover College in Indiana. Dr. Jones also served in the U. S. Naval Reserve as a mammalogist in Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.
Dr. Jones is a Professor of Environmental Studies at Northeastern University. He has served as the Associate and Acting Chairman of the Biology Department at Northeastern and most recently as Director of the University’s Center for Vertebrate Studies Marine Science Center in Nahant. He has taught courses in Mammalogy, Ornithology, Wildlife Biology, Evolution, Field Techniques in Zoology, as well as conducting advanced courses and graduate seminars. He has published 122 peer reviewed publications, 44 abstracts and 65 technical reports. Dr. Jones extensive field research has been conducted not only in Massachusetts but in 34 other states, 4 Canadian provinces, Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Dr. Jones also oversees one of the major depositories of specimens of Massachusetts mammals at Northeastern University.
Dr. Jones’ record of service is extensive. He has served on many committees locally, nationally and internationally. Here in Massachusetts, he was on the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Non-Game Advisory Committee, the precursor to the current Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee. He served as the first Chairman of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee from 1984 -1999. Dr. Jones also served on the Fisheries and Wildlife Board as the Board's specialist in endangered species and liaison to the Board for the NHES Advisory Committee from 1986-1999. He has served on a number of committees for the Mass. Department of Public Works, Mass. Environmental Affairs, Metro Boston Zoos, Boston Zoological Society, Boston Parks Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Gwil Jones is a member of a number of professional societies including the American Society of Mammalogists, the Society for Marine Mammalogy (charter member), The Wildlife Society, Bat Conservation International and locally, the Nuttall Ornithological Club based in Cambridge. He has been a guest editor for the Northeastern Naturalist in 2001 and 2005.
Michael D. Yacino, Douglas—2008
Michael Yacino, a life long resident of Douglas is an avid hunter and fisherman. He was Executive Director and Legislative Agent for Gun Owner’s Action League, Inc. (GOAL) from 1977 to 2005. Conservation highlights in his legislative efforts include: co-filing legislation with the Mass. Sportsmen’s Council (MSC) to create the Wildlands Conservation Stamp, supporting the Rivers Protection Act; supporting the Open Space Bond bill which provides for the protection of undeveloped land that is open to sporting and other outdoor recreation activities. His ability to secure donations of equipment, materials and labor and facilities for the Mass. Junior Conservation Camp has been extraordinary. Over the years, Yacino on his own time, has coached teams of junior shooters in local, regional and national rifle shooting competitions.
Yacino is the publisher and executive editor of a monthly news magazine for GOAL members. He hosted a radio show in Worcester featuring topics ranging from firearms, wildlife conservation issues and outdoor skills opportunities for youth and families. A member of the New England Outdoor Writer’s Association (NEOWA) Yacino received the NEOWA 1980 Outdoorsman of the Year Award. Mike Yacino was very involved in the Lead Shot Initiative, a program designed in 1998 to education shooting range operators on environmentally responsible management practices. Working with state environmental agencies and organizing meetings with sporting, military and police range operators, Yacino worked to help clubs find ways to re-use, remove or recycle spent ammunition and design ranges to prevent potential contamination from occurring. His involvement extended to making presentations on this topic to firearms and shooting sports industry leader at national meetings. For his work, Yacino received an Environmental Merit Award from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 office in 2002.
Kathleen Anderson, Middleborough—2007
Kathleen (Betty) Anderson lives in Middleborough on Wolf Trap Hill Farm. Born in Montana, her father moved back to Massachusetts when she was very young. She grew up with a love for the outdoors and the creatures that inhabit it. Largely self taught, Kathleen was an Ornithologist at the Encephalitis Field Station with the US Public Health Service and later the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She worked as an educator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and currently is an Honorary Director for MassAudubon. She founded the Manomet Bird Observatory (now Manoment Center for Conservation Science) and served as its director from 1969-1983. An avid birder and naturalist, Kathleen has organized and participated in Breeding Bird Surveys by the South Shore Bird Club in MassWildlife’s Wildlife Management Areas, participated in state wide Breeding Bird, Butterfly and Herpetology surveys as well as MassWildlife’s eagle count and other flora and faunal surveys. She has documented natural history sightings and events on her own farm for over 30 years and her journals have recently been the subject of study regarding climate change.
Anderson is a Charter member of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee (1981) and currently serves as its Chair. She also is a Charter and Life Member of the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, serving as a Trustee and President of the Trustees. She currently serves on the Trust’s Board of Advisors. Kathleen is a member of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, serving as the club’s first woman President of the nation’s oldest bird club.
Kathleen is an active member of numerous other professional ornithological and conservation organizations in both Massachusetts and other parts of the country. She was honored in 1995 by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology with the Arthur A. Allen Award, one of the most distinguished awards in American ornithology. In 2005, Kathleen was elected a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the primary professional scientific organization devoted to bird study.
Russell Cookingham, Monument Beach—2006
Russ Cookingham came to Massachusetts in 1951 as the first Wildlife Manager of the Southeast District for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In 1964, Cookingham was promoted to Deputy Director and in this capacity worked closely with Francis Sargent who was the Division’s Director. Cookingham was involved in the formation of the Public Access Board, which provides fishing and boating access in the Commonwealth. In 1971, Cookingham left Massachusetts to become the Director of the New Jersey Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. He was honored in 1987 by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with the Seth Gordon Award for excellence in international fisheries and wildlife administration.
Cookingham retired in 1988 and returned to Cape Cod. Mr. Cookingham has been an active participant in working with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod. He served on the Bourne Selectmen's task force for Local Pollution. Appointed to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 1989, Cookingham chaired its Finance Committee for a number of years and served as the professional wildlife biologist on the Board until 2005. Mr. Cookingham has been active with sportsmen from across the state and often attended sportsmen’s functions in the Southeast District representing the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. In October of 2002, Mr. Cookingham was appointed to the Science Advisory Council to the Environmental Management Commission at the Massachusetts Military Reservation by Governor Mitt Romney and was voted the Chairman of this group by its members. (Deceased, 2006)
Dr. Stephen Meyer, Sudbury—2005
Dr. Stephen M. Meyer of Sudbury was presented the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award on May 12, 2005. Dr. Meyer’s service in the public sector and academe has focused on the principle that successful natural resource management requires engagement with plants, animals, people, politics and economics.
Dr. Stephen M. Meyer was a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Project on Environmental Politics and Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. He received his doctoral and master’s degrees in political science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the State University of New York at Stonybrook. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Meyer has studied the relationship of the environment and the economy, the politics and economics of endangered species protection and wetlands habitat conservation. He currently heads a National Science Foundation study in the dynamics of community-based environmental protection. He also serves as a Faculty Associate at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Dr. Meyer has published numerous articles, chapters and research papers, the most recent of which focus on the economic impact of environmental laws and regulations.
Dr. Meyer’s avocation is as a field naturalist with a special focus on reptiles and amphibians. He has served as a field researcher, contributor to the Massachusetts Herpetological Atlas and has been a collaborator with both national and state organizations concerned with amphibians and wetlands protection. He has served a number of years as a member of the Sudbury Conservation Commission and has played an important role with the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions. Dr. Meyer served as eight years as a member of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee including service as Vice Chair. (Deceased 2006)
Nancy Begin, Topsfield—2004
Nancy Begin of Topsfield was presented the Sargent Award by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in Salem on September 17, 2004. Raised on a farm in Boxford, Nancy Begin has been active in farming and farmers' issues, since 1943 when she was named Poultry Clerk for the Topsfield Fair, a post she still holds. She was elected President of the Essex County Agricultural Society. In 1988-89, Begin was appointed President of Massachusetts' State Fairs with responsibility for over 90 fairs statewide.
An avid angler and hunter, Nancy Begin was the first woman on the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. She was the representative of the northeastern part of the state and of the state's agricultural community from 1980-2000 and served as a member, then Secretary, and eventually Vice Chair of the Board. She worked to establish the Wildlands Stamp Program for purchasing open space, was active in promulgating endangered species regulations. She was also heavily involved with the state waterfowl stamp artwork competition. In 1988, she was named Sportsman of the Year by the Essex County League of Sportsmen.
Begin is also is an accomplished wildlife artist whose drawings and etchings capture the beauty and wildness of waterfowl in motion. She studied at the Art Institute of Boston and has been invited to exhibit her art in many parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Connecticut and Portugal.
Ted Giddings, Lenox—2003
Theodore “Ted” Giddings received the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award on Friday, January 11, 2003, in Lenox. “The name Ted Giddings has been synonymous with Berkshire journalism and the outdoors for more than half a century,” observes MassWildlife Director Wayne MacCallum. “Not only did Ted devote himself to a 42 year professional career as reporter and City Editor for the Berkshire Eagle, he also became involved with conservation causes from the Housatonic River Initiative to the County League of Sportsmen and kept the public informed through his ‘Our Berkshires’ outdoor column. And this doesn’t include all the work he did for the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, Brown University and other causes. Ted Giddings is simply timeless and tireless.”
Giddings began working for the Berkshire Eagle newspaper in 1929, became City Editor in 1938, started his weekly outdoors column in 1948 and “retired” in 1971. He continues to write his popular “Our Berkshires” column for the paper, keeping his many devoted readers up-to-date on western Massachusetts conservation issues and events. The words most often used by friends and colleagues to describe Ted Giddings are: “quiet, efficient, hard-working, patient, professional, devoted and self-effacing”. His dedication to fish, wildlife, conservation and his beloved Berkshires make him a most-deserving Francis W. Sargent Award recipient. (Deceased, 2005)
Paul Kress, Carlisle—2000
Paul J. Kress of Carlisle, the first-ever recipient of the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award, was presented his award at the State House by Governor Paul Cellucci on December 12, 2000. "Paul Kress has been a fixture in the Commonwealth’s conservation movement for the better part of half a century," notes MassWildlife Director Wayne MacCallum. "Wherever there was an issue being debated or an idea being discussed, you’d find Paul. It didn’t matter whether it was the State House, a Fisheries and Wildlife Board meeting in Williamstown, Public Hearing on the Cape or Nongame Advisory Committee meeting in Westborough, Paul was there. I don’t think there’s a conservation group in the state that hasn’t honored Paul one way or another. He’s a shining example of what the new Sargent Award stands for."
Kress’ list of memberships, affiliations and awards includes serving as an officer with the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation, Sudbury Rod and Gun Club, Middlesex County League of Sportsmen, New England Outdoor Writers Association (NEOWA) and Massachusetts Jr. Conservation Camp. He has been active with the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, National and State Audubon Societies, Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) and Veterans of Foreign Wars among others. He has been recognized with more than a dozen awards from the NEOWA, including the Dick Cronin Sportsman of the Year Award. Other testaments to his dedication include the Rocky Bridges Conservation Award from Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Service Citation, and recognitions from the Worcester, Middlesex and Essex County Leagues of Sportsmen, GOAL and the Mahar Regional High School Fish’N Game Club.