Past Award Recipients

Past NCAFS Award Recipients

Richard L. Noble Best Student Paper Award

  • 1994 – Steve Haeseker
  • 1995 – John Carmichael
  • 1996 – Braden McCollum
  • 1998 – Kim Sparks
  • 1999 – George Palmer
  • 2000 – Scott Waters
  • 2001 – Rich Fulford
  • 2002 – Bob Barwick
  • 2003 – Dave Hewitt
  • 2004 – Alesia Read
  • 2005 – Jenny Vander Pluym
  • 2006 – Lori Davias
  • 2007 – Alan Garner
  • 2008 – William Smith
  • 2009 – Daniel Weaver
  • 2010 – Joe Facendola
  • 2011 – Justin Dycus
  • 2012 – William Smith
  • 2013 – Rachael A. Hoch
  • 2014 – Timothy A. Ellis
  • 2015 – Crystal Lee Pow
  • 2016 – Lisa Hollensead
  • 2017 – Brendan Runde
  • 2018 – Jennifer Archambault
  • 2019 – Cara Kowalchyk
  • 2020 – Riley Gallagher
  • 2021 – No candidates
  • 2022 – Joseph McIver
  • 2023 – Clayton Lynch

W. Don Baker Memorial Award

  • 1998 – Kim Sparks
  • 1999 – Tom Kwak
  • 2000 – Tom Kwak
  • 2001 – Rich Fulford
  • 2002 – Bob Barwick
  • 2003 – Dave Hewitt
  • 2004 – Greg Cope
  • 2005 – Doug Besler
  • 2006 – Greg Cope
  • 2007 – Bob Barwick & Greg Cope
  • 2008 – Dave Coughlan
  • 2009 – Kevin Hining
  • 2010 – Ryan Heise
  • 2011 – Tyler Black
  • 2012 – Jessica Baumann
  • 2013 – Bryn Tracy
  • 2014 – Jennifer Archambault
  • 2015 – Kevin Hining
  • 2016 – Jennifer Archambault
  • 2017 – Clint Morgeson
  • 2018 – Powell Wheeler
  • 2019 – Heather Evans
  • 2020 – Chris Wood
  • 2021 – Casey Joubert
  • 2022 – Brena Jones
  • 2023 – Jake Rash

Jerry R. Finke Memorial Distinguished Service Award

John Crutchfield 2002 Leadership efforts to promote Chapter growth & visibility.
Chris Taylor 2002 Formation & leadership of the NCSU subunit.
Larry Olmsted 2003 Outstanding leadership in Chapter formation, mentoring of fisheries students & professionals, and fisheries work in NC.  Also awarded the 2002 AFS Meritorious Service Award & the 2013 AFS President’s Fishery Conservation Award.
Fred Harris 2004 Distinguished service & leadership in Chapter formation & outstanding service to AFS & NC fisheries conservation.  Also awarded the 1998 AFS Distinguished Service Award & the 2010 AFS Meritorious Service Award.
Chad Hallyburton 2005 Outstanding dedication & mentoring efforts with high school students in hands-on fisheries research & promoting interest in environmental careers.
Jim Rice 2006 Leadership efforts in formation of the NCAFS Awards Committee by increasing the standard for effective & systematic judging criteria.
Dave Coughlan 2007 Outstanding service as NCAFS Newsletter Editor having produced four newsletters annually during his tenure (2000-2007).
Scott Van Horn 2008 Invaluable NCAFS member since 1990 charter; instrumental in its formation. The Chapter’s first President from 1990-1991 & led to AFS charter approval. Helped draft by-laws & procedures. Helped form chaired the NCAFS Awards Committee for many years. Scott’s numerous contributions & his tireless dedicated efforts helped make NCAFS a reality.
Greg Cope & Bob Barwick 2009 Outstanding dedication, leadership efforts, & service as co-chairs in forming & leading the NCAFS Education & Outreach Committee. Provided positive growth & leadership through initiatives including nonnative species education, shoreline development issues, & continuing education courses offered to membership.
Bob Curry 2010 Provided tireless volunteer efforts to the AFS serving at the Chapter, Division & National Levels, including Past President of both NCAFS & the Southern Division. Most notable achievement was spearheading a disaster relief effort for AFS members affected by Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, providing focused AFS services & coordinating the distribution of books, equipment, & supplies. This effort has been recognized by the Southern Division & Parent Society. In addition, Bob led the Southern Division forward in a professional manner.  Also awarded the 2007 AFS Distinguished Service Award
Kent Nelson 2011 Tirelessly served the AFS at the local, division, & national levels in a variety of roles. Mr. Nelson was NCAFS President during 2007-2008 & served on EXCOM & planning annual Chapter meetings. Mr. Nelson also chaired the highly successful 2003 Southern Division Spring Meeting held in Wilmington, NC, which reflected well on NCAFS & the state. Served on & chaired the Southern Division’s Warmwater Streams Committee &Striped Bass Committee, where he provided sound technical expertise & management policy direction. Quietly mentored & positively influenced many Commission biologists & managers. His belief in sound science & spirit of volunteerism lives on through these individuals.
Jerry Finke 2012 Mr. Finke tirelessly served the AFS at the local & division levels; providing IT support of the Chapter’s & Southern Division’s website. Provided technical audio-visual support for the SDAFS and Chapter meetings, making meeting technical presentations go smoothly. Since 2004, he served as the NCAFS Webmaster.  Jerry did an excellent job of keeping the site up to date.  Also initiated the online voting process for NCAFS.  Also served as the SDAFS Webmaster, involved with the creation & maintenance of the SDAFS Spring Meeting page.  In addition to his Webmaster duties, Jerry served as Registration Chair for the 2003 & 2010 SDAFS Meetings, processing & tracking of hundreds of registrations & distributing registration packets.
Kim Baker 2013 Served as NCAFS Secretary-Treasurer from 2000-2002 & served on the Newsletter Committee since 2009. Kim has been a member of the NC & SC AFS Chapters since inception, and is a long-standing member of AFS. Worked tirelessly as an avid procurer of raffle items for NCAFS & SDAFS. He served as the Raffle Chair of the highly successful 1999 National AFS Meeting.
Joe Hightower 2014 For his dedicated support of NCAFS & the Parent Society, his outstanding research career, especially in the anadromous fish research field, & exceptional instruction & mentoring of fisheries students.  Also received 2006 AFS Excellence In Fisheries Education Award.
Bryn Tracy 2015 For his dedicated & unwavering support of the NC AFS Chapter and Southeastern Fisheries Council, his mentoring of fishery students, and his committed efforts over the years to protect & conserve fishery resources in North Carolina.
Kevin Hining 2016 A Chapter member for 13 years, he has served twice, for four years, as NCAFS Secretary/Treasurer. Since 2012, Kevin has taken over as our Newsletter Editor & chair of the Communications Committee.  Under his guidance, the newsletter has published more than 265 pages.  In addition, Kevin is a frequent technical presenter at Chapter annual meetings, winning the W. Don Baker Award twice (2009 & 2015) recognizing the best scientific presentation.
David Yow 2017 For dedicated service to the Chapter and AFS Southern Division over his 30-year career. The Chapter recognizes David’s service as past NCAFS President and a member of the Environmental Concerns Committee. David also frequently attended annual Chapter meetings, co-authoring many presentations. In addition, David always was willing to help, volunteering numerous times to assist on committees as well as moderating numerous technical sessions over the years.
Kim Sparks 2018  For dedicated service to the Chapter and AFS Southern Division.  Kim is the first female recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in the Chapter’s history.  Served as a past NCAFS President, Chapter Treasurer (2 terms), & Finance Chair for the 2003 Southern Division Meeting in Wilmington. She has been a member of the Chapter for over 20 years.  She has distinguished herself through her tireless efforts in supporting Chapter leadership & ongoing operations, most notably her service & dedication in ushering the Chapter into the internet age of business & visibility.  Kim volunteered numerous times to assist on audiovisual & local arrangements committees as well as moderating technical sessions over the years.
Wilson Laney 2019  For dedicated service to the Chapter (as President in 1994); he has also been a strong contributor to the AFS & to the field of fisheries science & conservation for nearly 50 years, since his tenure as a graduate student in 1970 at NCSU. A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employee since 1981, his service & accomplishments are diverse. His long experience, deep expertise, & vast knowledge are not limited by traditional boundaries in our field; as such, he is among the most effective professionals to bridge contemporary science & historical knowledge with critical conservation issues. Wilson’s service to conserving our fishery resources occurs at a high volume, maintains outstanding quality, & is extremely effective in supporting positive outcomes for our public resources.
Lawrence Dorsey 2020 For dedicated service to the NC Chapter, Southern Division, and parent society for over two decades.  He values AFS for its ability to bridge knowledge gaps and build relationships that last a lifetime. He has served as chair of the chapter’s Continuing Education Committee, President in 2006, and on the Finance Committee. At the Southern Division, he has served on the Reservoir Committee since 2003 and has been the chair of that committee since 2016. He also served as the Southern Division’s AFS Representative to the Fisheries Management Section from 2010 – 2014.
No nominees 2021
Tom Kwak 2022 Awarded posthumously for his dedicated service as the Leader of the NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit for 22 years, as a valued member of the NC State University faculty, and as a mentor to 24 MS and 9 PhD students at NC State University, plus an additional 4 MS students at the University of Arkansas. He served major roles at every level of the American Fisheries Society. He was President of NC Chapter in 2003, the AFS Education Section in 2007, and the Southern Division in 2020. Tom served on a staggering number of AFS committees, often as chair. Two of his most notable contributions were as chair of the program committees at the 2003 SDAFS and 2004 national AFS meetings. He served since 2019 as an editor for the AFS journal North American Journal of Fisheries Management and for the highly successful special issue of the journal stemming from the proceedings of Catfish 2020.
No nominees 2023

Fred A. Harris Fisheries Conservation Award

Steve Reed and Jim Mead, N.C. Division of Water Resources 2002 Career contributions in NC instream flow policy development & protection of riverine habitat.
Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Initiative (Steve Melton) 2002 Comprehensive stream restoration efforts to reduce sediment loading from Muddy Creek into the Catawba River.
Richard Mode 2007 Tireless efforts to protect & enhance NC fisheries habitats & fish populations for over 30 years. Served in conservation leadership positions within North Carolina & nationally.
Joe Albea 2008 Dedicated efforts to educate the general public on conservation issues in NC. Identified and championed the traditional heritage values of fishing & hunting to NC citizens. Instrumental in organizing successful grassroots opposition against the Navy’s planned outlying landing field (OLF) in Washington County near the Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge.
Duane Raver 2009 Artistic efforts have indirectly help promote habitat conservation for NC’s unique fish & other wildlife through illustrated media collaborations including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s conservation library. Selflessly donated his time & talent to various conservation efforts.
Mike Zlotnicki 2010 Dedicated outreach efforts to educate the public on fisheries conservation in NC. Authored many newspaper articles on conservation through his weekly “Carolina Outdoors” section in the Raleigh News & Observer since 2003.
Dr. Edward F. Menhinick 2011 Directly affected the advancement of NC fisheries science & provided guidance in many careers. Advanced the study of fish in NC & the SE U.S. as a result of his dedicated research efforts.  The most well known scientific endeavor was the 1991 publication of the N.C. Freshwater Fishes book, which, for the first time, included distributional maps species. This collected much of NC’s fisheries scientific knowledge & has become the standard work tool for many NC fisheries biologists.
Eddie Bridges 2012 Dedicated advocate for wildlife conservation. Outstanding leadership & environmental stewardship in his tenure with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission & with the formation of the N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation.  The latter led the way in acquiring, managing & protecting NC wildlife habitat.  NC fisheries resources in North Carolina have also benefited from Wildlife Habitat Foundation grants. Finally, the Foundation led development of the Frank Sharpe, Jr. Wildlife Education Center at Bur-Mil Park, where annually, tens of thousands of visitors learn about conservation work.
Tim Gestwicki 2013 Dedicated advocate for fisheries & wildlife conservation in NC. Worked diligently to protect high-quality fisheries & wildlife habitat to benefit all generations of North Carolinians. Demonstrated outstanding leadership & environmental stewardship in his tenure with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Has worked diligently on public policy, resource management, & legislation. Spearheaded conservation efforts with the state “Wildlife Land Property Tax Changes” legislation & the federal Farm Bill in 2008, protecting wildlife & wetland habitat. Led the Federation’s successful efforts opposing the Navy’s Outlying Landing Field in Washington & Beaufort counties in 2008. Instrumental in successfully opposing a flawed EIS for the Monroe Bypass during 2012 which had serious potential impacts on the federally endangered Carolina heelsplitter. Led the Federation’s efforts in the North Carolina Teaming with Wildlife Coalition to secure full state & federal funding for the implementation of the NC Wildlife Action Plan.
Bill McLarney 2014 Conservation biologist who founded the upper Little Tennessee Watershed Biomonitoring Program, a very successful model for tracking species diversity in the Southern Appalachian Mountains for 25 years.  Advanced the study of Little TN species diversity, collecting valuable aquatic information. Dr. McLarney’s wide use of volunteers for this program educated NC citizens on stream habitat quality in the basin & raised the environmental consciousness of an entire region. This program has received regional & national recognition for species conservation efforts in the country.
Dr. Joann Burkholder 2015 William Neal Reynolds Professor of Applied Ecology at NCSU & Director of NCSU Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology.  Contributed significantly to the understanding of algal & submerged aquatic vegetation population dynamics and their relation to nutrient & other pollutants in NC, across the southeastern U.S., and around the world.  She has authored or co-authored over 160 publications and, along with her students & colleagues, has made over 250 scientific presentations at conferences & symposia, supported aquatic science education & professionalism through her teaching & mentoring of over 50 graduate students.  Known for leading by example, she is responsible for launching many successful careers.  Exhibits dedicated & unwavering support to aquatic resource conservation & her exceptional research, instruction, mentoring of fisheries & aquatic science students, and service to her state & nation.
Andy Wood 2016 Owner of his environmental consulting firm, Andy Wood & Associates, LLC, & director of the non-profit Coastal Plain Conservation Group, Andy is recognized for his significant contributions to aquatic resource conservation in NC, especially with the imperiled Magnificent Ramshorn & Greensfield Ramshorn snails.  Andy has demonstrated unwavering support of conservation of the State’s natural resources, & he has provided exceptional efforts to educate the public on the diversity of our Coastal Plain wildlife & habitats for over 25 years.
Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists 2017 For their significant contributions to protect and enhance the natural resources and wildlife habitats of the greater Lake Norman area. The NCAFS Chapter applauds the LNWC’s unwavering commitment to environmental education, appreciation of wildlife and natural history, and conservation of wildlife habitat and natural resources.
Erin McCombs 2018 Associate Conservation Director of SE Conservation at American Rivers, Erin has proven to be a valued & effective leader for American Rivers’ conservation goals since she was hired in November 2013 to expand the effectiveness of their River Restoration Program in NC & the Southeast.  She has become a recognized expert on dam removal & grown the capacity of the River Restoration Program by rebuilding the NC Aquatic Connectivity Team (ACT) & advancing dam removal, one of the most efficient & effective ways to restore damaged rivers.  She has helped raise more than $425,000 for dam removals & related river conservation initiatives. In 2016, Erin helped lead NC to a record-breaking season for conservation-driven dam removals with 7 dams removed. Erin directly led the removal of four dams while providing technical assistance to partners on the other three. Recently, Erin expanded her role by leading American Rivers’ Tuckasegee River Blue Trail initiative with a goal of better connecting local communities to their hometown river & conserving critical riverside lands to protect the river’s clean water & biodiversity for future generations.
Bill Frazier 2019 Bill has worked with water quality & reservoir management for most of his career. He is the laboratory manager at the City of High Point’s Water Filtration Plant. He was one of the first to successfully treat Lyngbya, a cyanobacteria, in the state. As the NC B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director, Bill is dedicated to the preservation of the sport’s natural resources & mentoring young anglers. Bill doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial projects, encouraging anglers not to stock aquatic nuisance species like Spotted Bass & Hydrilla. He participated in the Lake Gaston stakeholder process to develop & implement the vegetation management plan, to control Hydrilla while maintaining native vegetation. Bill tries to bridge the relationship gap between the angler community & the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission). More recently, Bill was instrumental in developing & implementing the Commission’s Educational Fishing Trails in NC. He worked to get NC B.A.S.S. National to partner with the Commission to improve habitat on Harris Lake by stocking triploid grass carp to control Hydrilla & installing 30 acres of fish attractors & restoring 1 acre of native vegetation. His expertise as a scientist & avid angler offers him a unique perspective in resource management. His dedication to educating the public & specifically youth will help ensure future generations of anglers.
No nominees 2020
No nominees 2021
Tom Earnhardt 2022 Awarded for his lifelong devotion to conserving fish, wildlife, and other invaluable natural resources in North Carolina and beyond.  As an attorney, university professor, producer, writer, photographer, and conservationist, Tom has been, and continues to be, an avid naturalist and advocate for the natural and cultural resources of North Carolina. He is a keen observer, writer and photographer of wild things and places. Over the past 18 years, Tom has crisscrossed North Carolina researching, writing and co-producing almost 100 episodes of the natural science television series, Exploring North Carolina. In 2013, Tom completed a book of essays on the natural history of North Carolina for the University of North Carolina Press titled, Crossroads of the Natural World. Most recently, as the COVID pandemic spread in the spring of 2020, Tom wrote a series of 35 photo essays celebrating North Carolina’s wild places and things, which ran on Sunday mornings on the Opinion Page of Capitol Broadcasting Company and WRAL.  He has served on the boards of major education, historical and conservation organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Audubon North Carolina, among many others. He currently serves on the boards of the North Carolina Coastal Federation, the Dix Park Legacy Committee, Muddy Sneakers, and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Society.  Tom has received numerous awards for his work with cultural, historical and natural resources, including the Governor’s Award as “North Carolina Conservationist of the Year” in 1994. For his work with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and for championing natural resources, he received the “Order of the Longleaf Pine” in 2011.
Not awarded 2023

Other Notable Chapter Awards

      • 2002 – Southern Division AFS Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2003-2004 – AFS Southern Division Outstanding Chapter Award
      • 2005 – Southern Division AFS Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2005 – American Fisheries Society Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2006-2007 – AFS Southern Division Outstanding Chapter Award
      • 2009 – AFS Southern Division Membership Challenge Winner
      • 2008-2012 – Southern Division AFS Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2011-2012 – American Fisheries Society Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2015 – American Fisheries Society Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2014-2015 – Southern Division AFS Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2017-2018 – Southern Division AFS Best Student Subunit (NCSU)
      • 2023 – AFS Southern Division Outstanding Chapter Award