Schoch was recognized for her outstanding efforts in creating awareness and significant achievement in preserving the common loon.
The award was created in the name of one of NYSOWA’s most beloved and active members, M. Paul Keesler, the deceased co-founder of “New York Sportsman” magazine. Keesler, through his writing and publishing efforts, spent nearly five decades promoting and conserving the outdoor wonders and recreational opportunities within New York State.
The award recognizes an individual or organization that effectively has raised the public’s awareness of outdoor recreational opportunities and conservation issues in the state. Nominations could be made by the public, as well as by NYSOWA members.
Dr. Schoch resigned her veterinary practice in order to develop a program to study and protect the common loon, the symbol of the Adirondack wilds. Threats to the loon population had included mercury deposition, lead poisoning and continued deterioration of their habitat. Her efforts enlisted the help of hundreds of volunteers and the scientific community in the Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program.
Her work at gaining public support has gathered more than 500 who participate in the annual loon census on 200 lakes in the Adirondacks. Public awareness and concern have been increased by the opportunity to participate in research, public relations, the website, and school curriculum. Today there are signs indicating what boaters can do to protect loons and countless people are aware of threats to nesting loons and chicks.
Schoch sought the cooperation of the sportsmen and worked with Gremlin Sinker Company to provide non-toxic sinkers and a trade-in program to remove toxic lead which had been a cause of many loon deaths in the Adirondacks. Her efforts at raising awareness of mercury deposition and the problems that it causes have resulted in efforts to curtail this for the benefit of all wildlife and fish. By reaching out to the science and public involvement, the Adirondack loon has apparently doubled in numbers since the 1980s as well as become a symbol of a wild and a healthier environment.
NYSOWA also honored Bill Hollister of Valatie with the Pass It On Award at its annual conference.
This award was jointly presented by NYSOWA and Bass Pro Shops in honor of the writer selected annually as doing the most to pass on a love and understanding of outdoor heritage.
Hollister spent his life as a wildlife biologist and supervisor with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. During his career and his retirement he continually worked for the preservation and enjoyment of outdoor sports. He has also been an outdoor writer for more than 30 years and has written for a number of publications.
Hollister was one of the first to embrace the sport of turkey hunting as restoration efforts spread the birds across New York. He shared his expertise and knowledge of techniques in seminars around the state and they were immensely popular as countless numbers of hunters were introduced to this growing sport.
Hollister has also conducted many seminars on deer hunting and other outdoor skills, written many articles on various types of hunting and fishing and mentored young writers as they pursued careers in outdoor writing. He continues to guide and mentor individual hunters, especially youngsters during the Youth Hunting Days. Over the years he has helped or introduced innumerable hunters to the skills of various types of hunting, as well as an appreciation of the outdoors.
The writer is chosen from NYSOWA’s members. Bass Pro Shops makes a significant contribution to the NYSOWA Scholarship Fund in that individual’s name.
Photo provided by Nina Schoch
Nina Schoch of Ray Brook releases a loon on an Adirondack lake after banding it.