The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was honored with three awards at the 54th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards luncheon hosted by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
Austin Bibb received the Forest Conservationist of the Year, Lance Rider received the On Target Award, and Gene Smith was honored as the Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.
Since 1965, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation has honored a select group of leaders to celebrate the protection of wildlife and habitat.
Austin Bibb serves as a wildlife technician in TWRA’s West Tennessee’s Region I. He is credited with restoring the health of forests with his work in Fayette, Hardeman, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties. The Munford resident’s hands-on work can be seen throughout Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. He has worked tirelessly to control the invasive wild hog populations and to repair the damages they cause to the habitat.
Lance Rider has served the TWRA for 35 years and receives his honor for his outstanding support of the Federation’s Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). Rider, who resides in McKenzie, has been instrumental to the success of both SCTP and shotgun shooting sports statewide. He began his TWRA career as a lakes manager then in the roles as wildlife biologist, wildlife information specialist, and now as the shooting sports coordinator.
Gene Smith, of Memphis, has served as a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hunter Education Instructor for nearly four decades. In that time, he has certified 20,000 students to help ensure the next generation is equipped with the knowledge and training to safely and ethically hunt and enjoy the great outdoors. A devoted instructor, Smith has also volunteered his time to share his love of the great outdoors with thousands of inner-city youth. He has also served as a volunteer for the Agency on other outreach efforts through the years.
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to the conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources. Seventeen recipients from across the state were presented awards during the ceremony at the historic Loveless Café in west Davidson County.