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FWC biologist receives conservation award for outstanding career achievement

News Release

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Media contact: : Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130, Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologist Lawson Snyder has been honored as the 2015 recipient of the Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the conservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife. FWC Commissioners presented the award at the agency’s meeting in Sarasota on June 25.

After retiring in May as Deputy Division Director for the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Snyder proudly accepted the honor for having served the state of Florida admirably for a 34-year span with the FWC and its predecessor agency.  

 Nominated by coworkers and employees, Snyder was cited for his analytical, tactful approach to problem solving, his inspirational leadership, his mentoring ability and his fairness and objectivity in dealings with staff  ̶  plus his plain hard work.

“Lawson has been dedicated and selfless in his service to the citizens of Florida and the fish and wildlife resources they enjoy,” said Thomas Eason, director of the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.  “He greatly deserves this recognition for his outstanding career with the state of Florida.”

Snyder started on his career path by first serving a four-year tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force. After military duty, he enrolled at Humboldt State University in his home state of California, graduating in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in fisheries science. 

The new graduate embarked on his professional career with the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in 1980 as a fisheries biologist in the Ocala Regional Office. His work on the Withlacoochee River fisheries study and Fox Lake restoration project acted as a springboard for his appointment to Assistant Regional Freshwater Fisheries Biologist for the 12-county central Florida area.

In 1986, Snyder was promoted to project leader on the Lower St. Johns River Fisheries Research Project. Never satisfied with merely studying aquatic systems, he found himself involved with the Lake Monroe restoration project where poor water quality had caused the loss of submersed vegetation in the lake and a declining sport fishery.

Snyder and his team undertook a successful re-vegetation project over large portions of the lake, with the team hand-planting eelgrass in fenced areas to protect it from grazing turtles. The Lake Monroe project is recognized of as one of the most successful, large scale re-vegetation projects ever conducted in Florida.

Because of his interest and aptitude for lake restoration, Snyder was promoted to section leader for Lake Restoration in 1991, and then in 1998 was asked to lead the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

During the 2004 agency reorganization following creation of the FWC, Snyder was selected to serve as the leader for the Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration Section. His restoration effort on Lake Jessup was gratefully recognized by the Friends of Lake Jessup, while his success in managing Lake Jackson watershed issues was trumpeted by Friends of Lake Jackson and Leon County Commissioners.  

In 2008, Snyder was appointed deputy director of operations for the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.

The Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award is named after the late Louise Ireland Humphrey, a Leon County resident, owner of Woodfield Springs Plantation and the first woman appointed in 1984 to serve on the board of the then-Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Humphrey served until 1999 and was recognized as a conservationist for her love of the land, particularly the Red Hills area north of Tallahassee, and for her leadership style on fish and wildlife issues. The award reflects dedication to the conservation mission that guided Mrs. Humphrey and that now guides the FWC.

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