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An FWC ‘North Star’ receives achievement award

News Release

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Media contact: Susan Smith, 850-528-1755

The Wildlife Foundation of Florida honored longtime Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) employee Gregory L. Holder with the 2012 Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award.

Assistant Executive Director Holder was recognized April 17 at the FWC meeting northwest of Tallahassee for his almost-33 years of initiatives and leadership.

“Greg is a worthy candidate for this award because of his dedication to Florida’s fish and wildlife resources and his vision for their conservation on behalf of Florida’s citizens,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley.

“When Greg retires later this year, the FWC will lose an important guiding light and conservation North Star. His leadership has helped to steer us for three decades and continues to do so even today, as we map out a new agency strategic plan and the future of FWC.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in forestry management and a master’s in wildlife ecology, both from Mississippi State University, Holder began his career as a wildlife biologist in May 1980 with the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, which later became the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

He made an important contribution that decade in Lakeland, when he stepped forward to coordinate the agency’s new Surface Water Improvement and Management Program.

“This was the first of many times that he led new initiatives,” said Diane Eggeman, who presented the award. She is director of the FWC’s Division of Hunting and Game Management.

“In this role, Greg demonstrated his ability to get staff members – even those he did not supervise – to work together collaboratively,” Eggeman said. “Then, by building credibility externally, Greg effectively influenced the state’s five water management districts, other governmental agencies and the general public, so that wildlife habitat values were included in lake-restoration projects.”

Holder’s leadership qualities were critical during the challenges and opportunities posed by the reorganization in 1999 when a constitutional amendment and the Florida Legislature expanded the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, and it became known as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As director of the FWC’s Southwest Region, he was often first to volunteer his 12-county area to try out new procedures or ways of doing business, keeping staff on course during the transition.

Two specific achievements showcase Holder’s effectiveness at leading teams. First, he was instrumental in leading the team that developed Florida’s first comprehensive gopher tortoise management plan, which was approved by the Commission in 2007. This high-profile management plan represented one of the new agency’s examples of collaborative governance. The gopher tortoise plan had ownership and support from an array of interests and stakeholders.

“The effort was so successful that external supporters generated additional funding for the agency to implement the work,” Eggeman noted.

His second achievement occurred through his influence and guidance as a key member of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management System leadership team. It developed innovative ways of conserving Florida’s threatened species. The Commission passed this comprehensive management package in September 2010.

“Both of these efforts will stand for years as noteworthy and fresh conservation success stories,” Eggeman concluded.

The Wildlife Foundation of Florida created the Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award in 1999 as an annual honor for an FWC employee whose dedication and service have made outstanding contributions to conservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife. The award is named for the first female commissioner of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, who served from 1984 to 1999, including two terms as Chairman.

Louise Ireland Humphrey was an avid outdoorswoman and a dedicated participant in conservation efforts throughout the southeastern United States. Humphrey died in March 2012 at her home in Leon County, but her legacy lives on through this award.

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