TOP PHOTO: Two Campbell Countians have been chosen to receive Tennessee Wildlife Federation Conservation awards. Eagle Scout Stewart Thacker, left and his Uncle Joe England, right, have been chosen as award recipients at the 58th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards ceremony which will be held in Nashville May 19. (This photo was taken at Thacker’s Eagle Scout pinning ceremony.)
By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Two Campbell Countians from the same family have been tabbed to receive conservation awards from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and will have their efforts recognized at the Federation’s 58th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards ceremony which will be held in Nashville on May 19th.
Eagle Scout and BSA Troop 310 assistant scoutmaster Stewart Thacker is the Junior Conservationist of the Year, while his uncle Joe England is the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year.
Conservation award recipients are chosen from amongst all 95 counties in the state and are recognized for their outstanding volunteer and conservation efforts. It’s rare for two award recipients to come from the same county, let alone the same family; you could say conservation is in their blood.
Thacker credits his longtime work with Scouts BSA, as well as volunteering with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency for his being chosen as Junior Conservationist of the Year. He also credited his Uncle Joe for helping him to “start it all” by inspiring his career path in conservation.
Thacker’s most recent wildlife accomplishment is completing his certified angler instructor classes, and he is now one of two individuals in East Tennessee who is certified to teach kids the basics of fishing and fish wildlife management. He is also certified to teach and train angling educators.
England has more than 37 years in conservation for the state of Tennessee and currently is employed by the TWRA. England has been part of helping with BSA Troop 310 from the beginning and has been instrumental in teaching the scouts about conservation, nature and wildlife.
According to Thacker, seeing the importance and impact of conservation through watching his uncle is why he chose to follow in his footsteps.
“I feel honored and blessed to be receiving the award, but the best part is I get to be up there on stage with my uncle who helped me to start it all. To be side by side with him; that’s a big deal,” Thacker said.
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is one of the largest nonprofits dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and natural resources.
According to the Federation’s website, “for more than a half-century, Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Awards have recognized those making outstanding contributions to our state’s wildlife and natural resources.”
Past honorees include senators, former governors, international companies, conservation professionals and lifelong volunteers from all across the state.
Nominations are accepted in nearly 20 categories, from Conservationist of the Year to Youth Conservationist, in order to honor the amazing conservation work that is occurring across Tennessee.
Longtime TWRA employee Joe England said he was honored to receive the Wildllife Conservationist of the Year award, but that he was the “most proud of his nephew and all he had accomplished.”
England has been working in conservation in Tennessee for 37 years. He started working with the Tennessee Parks system in 1986, before transferring to the division of Forestry for 14 years. He has currently been with TWRA for a little more than 20 years. He said working with his nephew and the other Boy Scouts had been a great experience.
“I love to work with these kids and young men; it warms my heart to see them get involved with nature and conservation,” England said.
He also said it had been great working with his nephew Stewart while he was volunteering with TWRA.
“He is a very hard working young man and is very knowledgeable about wildlife and nature and how you should conduct yourself in nature; I’m proud to see him recieve his award. Conservation is important to teach to young people and it’s important to get them involved in wildlife,” England said.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation chief development officer Kendall McCarter said he was proud to honor award recipients at this year’s ceremony.
“We know the work of conserving native wildlife and wild places cannot be accomplished by one person or group, and we are proud to to be able to honor those who contribute to conservation in Tennessee,” McCarter said. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/03/2023-6AM)