CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department presented their annual awards this summer to recognize employees for their contributions to the Department, state and wildlife and fish conservation. Eighteen employees from across the state were honored.
“Annual awards are one way we can take special time to honor the employees at Game and Fish who are dedicated to the State of Wyoming and the wildlife resource,” said Director Brian Nesvik. “I congratulate each recipient, and I am proud to have folks like this on team Game and Fish.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Neil Hymas, who retired earlier this year after a 40-year career with Game and Fish, including the last 35 years as the Warden in Cokeville.
“He had an impact on many people in our agency and around the state,” Nesvik said. “He perfected the craft of a Wyoming-style game warden — firm but fair.”
Two employees were acknowledged for their contributions and leadership on the Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan collaborative efforts. The Casper region’s Justin Binfet, wildlife management coordinator, received the prestigious Director’s Award and Janet Milek, information and education specialist was named Wildlife Division Employee of the Year.
Sheri Todd, executive assistant in Cheyenne was honored as the Director’s Office Employee of the Year. The award acknowledges her support on major planning efforts and scheduling for the director’s office, improving the process for tracking and completing high-priority assignments and coordinating all aspects of Commission meetings.
Brian Parker, habitat and access supervisor in Lander, was honored as Services Division Employee of the Year for his instrumental role in the restoration of the Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp near Dubois and collaborated with other organizations to make improvements to the Spence and Moriarty Wildlife Habitat Management Area.
Melissa Lovato, senior accountant in Cheyenne, was named Fiscal Division Employee of the Year. Lovato is part of the Department’s licensing accounting team and was highlighted for her accuracy and skill for accounting and directly managing about $1 million annually.
Laura Burckhardt, aquatic habitat biologist in Cody, was acknowledged as Fish Division Employee of the Year. Burckhardt’s work led to the rerouting of Sunlight Creek in the Cody region, something Game and Fish tried to accomplish during the past 40 years. Burckhardt managed 40 people from three divisions to help complete this project.
The Game and Fish Team of the Year went to the Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Plan team which included Fish Division members from around Wyoming: Kevin Gelwicks, Laramie; Robb Keith, Green River; Matt Hahn, Casper; Andrew Nikirk, Sheridan; Hilda Sexauer, Pinedale; Clark Johnson, Jackson; Sam Hochhalter, Cody; Craig Amadio, Lander; Steve Gale, Laramie; Beth Bear, Laramie; and Josh Leonard, Laramie. The team was responsible for developing rapid response plans for all at-risk waters to direct Game and Fish efforts if aquatic invasive species are ever found in the state.
Game and Fish also honored Richard O’Hara with the Department’s Special Recognition Award. O’Hara is a police psychologist in Colorado who has been a consultant for Game and Fish for more than 35 years and provided his knowledge and analysis in the hiring of new wardens.