The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) presented Rhonda Hurst with a special recognition award at their annual meeting in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week. Hurst is the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). She also serves as coordinator of the ODWC Wildlife Expo, one of the largest wildlife expos in the nation.
“Rhonda lives and breathes for sharing her love of the outdoors with friends, family and neighbors across Oklahoma,” said Chuck Sykes, SEAFWA President. “Throughout her career she has had a huge impact on the hunting and fishing landscape in Oklahoma, especially through her time as the state's Wildlife Expo Coordinator. We are very happy to present Rhonda with SEAFWA’s special recognition award.”
Hurst began her career with ODWC in 1992 as a secretary for the agency's Information and Education Division. She transferred to the agency's Wildlife Division in 1996 and was promoted to the role of Administrative Assistant in 1999. Since 2013, Hurst has served as Executive Assistant to the ODWC Director.
In 2005, Hurst took on the challenge of serving as ODWC's first Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Coordinator. That first expo unexpectedly drew more than 45,000 visitors. Under Rhonda's leadership the expo has become a key public relations and outreach event for ODWC with an annual attendance of between 40,000 and 60,000.
“I've had the privilege of working directly and daily with Rhonda over the past three years,” said ODWC Director J.D. Strong. “During that time, Rhonda has been an invaluable asset to me, the Department, and particularly in her role as our expo coordinator. She is the kind of person whose commitment to our outdoor heritage and lifestyle shines in everything she does.”
In addition to her duties with ODWC, Hurst is a certified hunter education instructor and certified National Bowhunter Education Foundation instructor. She has also served as an instructor for numerous workshops and programs designed to introduce others – especially women – to the outdoors. Among those are such programs as the Oklahoma and Texas Becoming an Outdoors Woman programs, Becoming an Archery and Bowhunting Enthusiast, Project Eagle Outdoors Woman, Outdoors Woman One-Day workshops and many more.
The Association’s special recognition awards are bestowed upon individuals who, in the state agency directors’ opinions, have served the association and made outstanding contributions toward wildlife and fisheries conservation, outdoor recreational engagement, and the natural resources professional community.
The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) is an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.