First Woman to Receive Award that Recognizes Outstanding Participation in DEC's Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Program
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that the agency has awarded Laura Gidney of Orange County with its eighth annual DEC Region 3 Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence, recognizing Gidney's outstanding contribution to DEC's Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Program.
"Laura Gidney is the first woman in New York State to receive this award and her passion and dedication for teaching safe and ethical trapping practices is a testament to the importance of involving more women in the rich tradition of hunting and trapping in New York," said Kelly Turturro, DEC Regional Director. "We are happy to announce Laura as our eighth recipient of this prestigious award and hope it inspires others to follow in her footsteps."
All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must pass one or more courses before they can receive a hunting license in New York State. Trained Instructors certified by DEC, such as Gidney, teach safe and responsible outdoor practices while stressing the important role hunters and trappers play in environmental conservation. Volunteer instructors provide invaluable support to the implementation of New York State's Hunter Education Program.
Gidney is an avid and seasoned trapper and passes on her passion for trapping to all her students, making sure they receive high quality, hands-on trapping and fur-handling experience. As a certified trapping instructor, her teaching doesn't stop at the end of class. Gidney encourages students to call her with their first catches, especially if they need assistance. She wants every student to love fur handling as she does and to take pride in their work.
John Gidney, spouse and fellow instructor, said, "One thing I know Laura is most proud of is that a young lady from upstate New York who has a disability wanted to get certified to trap. Laura told the mother of the young lady that if she brings her to the youth camp, Laura would work with her and give her the test orally, taking as much time as needed. The mother brought the young lady in and she passed the test with flying colors. This young lady has trapped every season since then with her dad and puts up both of their fur."
Perhaps most impressive is Gidney's focus on the importance of safety, respect for wildlife, and pertinent laws. She encourages her students to keep their integrity as trappers and to recognize how public perception affects other trappers and trapping in general. Gidney reminds students and others to do their part in conservation by helping to keep a healthy wildlife population. She passes that message down to her family as well, with all three of her children sharing her enthusiasm for this time-honored tradition. In fact, her two oldest children joined the Hunter Education Program as Junior Instructors.
Gidney is the past Treasurer for the Rockland County Trappers Association and current Secretary for the Orange County Trappers Association. She's also the current County Representative for the New York State Trappers Association. She serves as a mentor there and at the Pack Forest Camp, where she has mentored for 5 years.
The award is named for Wayne Jones, the Hunter Education Program Administrator for New York from 1992 - 2008. Jones was instrumental to the program and during his tenure achieved many significant accomplishments for the Hunter Education Program, including the development of online educational tools.
Instructors are nominated by their peers based on a set of criteria, including innovation, program operations, and working with other groups to expand the program.
Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. This initiative will support the completion of more than 75 projects over the next three years, ranging from improvements to youth camps and environmental education centers to new boat launches, duck blinds, and hiking trails. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative.
For more information on planning an outdoor adventure in New York State, visit DEC's website.