The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) recognized the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies at its Director’s Meeting during the group’s annual conference. The Director’s Firebird Award was presented to Curtis Hopkins, Executive Secretary, and Paul Johansen, President, for unparalleled support in a time of need. The award is reserved for contributions worthy of national recognition towards the advancement of bobwhite conservation.
The NBCI was navigating an operational transition from the University of Tennessee to Clemson University. State contributions from five states (including a non-SEAFWA state) were left with no clear destination to monetarily support the initiative. SEAFWA agreed to serve as a financial intermediary providing a trusted and secure destination for state funds. Those funds were ultimately transferred to Clemson University to jump-start the NBCI.
By SEAFWA’s offering of aide, the NBCI seamlessly transitioned its operation. Without the support, a significant delay would have ensued and valuable contributions may have been lost. The NBCI represents a 25-state partnership aimed at restoring bobwhite and associated species through native habitat restoration providing a host of societal benefits including soil, air, and water quality enhancements. The partnerships’ roots date back to 1995 when the SEAFWA Directors called for regional action to restore bobwhite through Southeast Quail Study Group. After 27 years, SEAFWA renewed its unfettered support towards the initiative through its critical actions.