The prestigious Special Service Award was presented to Gene Van Liew of Richland on November 28 during the Awards Luncheon of the annual convention of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, held at the Tricities Convention Center.
Gene Van Liew has served as a force for conservation for over two decades. His continuing volunteer service includes maintaining wildlife guzzlers, servicing wood duck boxes, and participating in bird banding and fish sampling, all very physical projects, despite his octogenarian status. His legacy also includes educating youth, minorities and underrepresented populations and introducing them to conservation ideals. Since 2003, when he first learned of Benton Conservation District’s “Salmon in the Classroom” program, Gene’s volunteer commitment has fueled the program’s growth from only 5 classes to 180 classes. He is a critical contributor to youth conservation programs that serve over 10,000 youth annually. Gene is an almost relentless advocate for conservation, recruiting and training other volunteers, organizing events, promoting Benton Conservation District programs, and securing donations, thereby multiplying his individual impact.
The breadth of his service includes projects with Benton Conservation District, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and conservation groups such as Richland Rod & Gun Club and Tapteal Greenway.
He is a treasure within the conservation community, a man who gives selflessly of his time and talent.