JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Speech
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2010 Newsletter)
Firstly, I must thank my wife, Carol. During the first 22 years of our marriage we had finally settled into a quiet routine that we both appreciated. Then for the past two years I found a way to turn both of our lives upside down. Carol has been extremely patient with me pursuing my interests and I know that on some level she knows that even as I continue saying that things will finally begin to settle down it appears unlikely it will happen anytime soon.
I’d like to thank my son Anthony and daughter Tori for joining their mom and dad today, for their support and for putting up with changes to our lifestyle. Even though the two of them, now in college, are probably looking at each other and thinking – 'hey, I didn’t notice any life style change I have no idea what mom and dad are up to.'
I will take this opportunity to thank the members of Jersey Coast Anglers Association for considering me for this honor. I was introduced to JCAA through Tom Fote at a state federation convention just over 2 years ago and then met John Toth shortly thereafter. I was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge of salt water matters and how willingly they threw their support behind the fledgling initiative of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance. They, and all of you at JCAA, have remained squarely behind us at every step and through some very challenging experiences, I might add.
I have been impressed with the way JCAA members conduct themselves, the quality of past nominations and the caliber of recipients of the Sportsperson of the Year award. This has made the honor all the more treasured for me. It’s noteworthy that since 1981 the Jersey Coast Anglers Association has united a fragmented group of marine sportsfishing clubs to form and promote a consensus on issues relevant to saltwater anglers in New Jersey.
In my opinion, one of the most important accomplishments of JCAA has been to establish itself as a respected advisory voice in Trenton and Washington. Additional achievements have been gamefish status for Striped Bass in New Jersey, initiatives for healthy fisheries management and a commitment to ensuring our natural resources are available to youth and tomorrow's anglers.
I wouldn’t be standing before you if it weren’t for the efforts of the officers of the NJOA; Ed Markowski, Pete Grimbilas, Jerry Natale, Cory Wingerter and all of our volunteers. I also owe a special thanks to Rob Winkle for his dedication and work. These men have worked tirelessly on behalf of the outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen of NJ. These volunteers have their characters tested nearly everyday by making difficult decisions and carrying out self imposed responsibilities that many people wouldn’t choose to do even if they were paid. Their caring about the future of our natural resources is an inspiration to me.
I accept the honor of Sportsperson of the Year on behalf of these gentlemen and all sportsmen and sportswomen who have joined our effort to educate the public and our legislators about the inherent value of environmental stewardship by means of conservation; this includes fishing, hunting, forestry and best practices for sound ocean ecology.
I must admit that all of us in this room have our work cut out for us. We are faced with a culture that is becoming increasingly urbanized, which is creating a widening misperception that we are not linked to nature for survival. Today, more and more people believe that food comes from the supermarket and water from the tap. This misguided thinking is resulting in initiatives designed to preserve Mother Nature, when in fact Mother Nature has no such prescription as preservation for things in her care – she works to achieve balance for her resources by means of conservation. It is conservation or “sustainable use” of resources - and not preservation - that is the fundamental design of a healthy ecosystem.
Unfortunately, this idea does not fit on a bumper sticker and it makes our mission of educating others about the precepts of conservation all the more difficult. But I know each of us realizes that nothing worthwhile comes easily, or we wouldn’t be here today. Continuous work is the medicine of lasting results.
So today we gather to celebrate and acknowledge our accomplishments. Today we measure the distance between where we were last year and where we now find ourselves. Today we pause and imagine how much closer to our goal of conservation education we will be one year from now and wonder who might be the person we recognize for passing the baton.
It was Albert Pine who said; “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Each of us is here because we understand the profundity of these words. I am exceptionally proud to be among you. My thanks to all of you for the things you do, for instilling a tradition of “doing for others” and for your commitment to environmental stewardship.