About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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September 18, 2007

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The Green Sportswoman

It’s always time to talk about the environment. But considering that Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation Awards event is taking place Thursday, this week seems better than most for a post on the work sportsmen do for habitat.

Those of you who read the magazine know that for two years, Field & Stream has held this awards program to spotlight sportsmen and women who do great things for conservation. The magazine gets a number of entries throughout the year, and each fall, six winners are featured in the book and honored at an awards event in New York City.

I’ve been one of the editors working on this program, and having read hundreds of entries, I've been amazed by the fact that so few were from women. Of course, this wasn’t a huge shock considering that Field & Stream’s readers are overwhelmingly male. But I mean hardly any women were writing in about their conservation projects. There actually was one woman who made the semi-finalist round of 21 people in the program’s first year. But when we asked each of those 21 to provide more information so we could choose the winners, she was the only one who didn’t respond—so frustrating!

But the tides have turned in 2007. There were more entries from the ladies this year, and one Dscn0939_2 of the six winners to be honored at Thursday night’s event is a woman—and she’s awesome! Her name is Joan Vernon, she’s from Key Biscayne, Fla., and she’s vice-chairman of the Billfish Foundation (she’ll be our honorary fisherwoman on the blog). Joan does so much good work, I frankly have trouble keeping all her involvements straight. But the saltwater habitat conservation project she’s being recognized for is a massive research program that places $4,000 tracking tags into marlin, swordfish, and sailfish to collect habitat data.

Joan travels a lot for her work, but she took a minute last night between trips to email this comment for the blog:

There are many women involved in fresh and saltwater fishing these days. It is good to see women take an active part. We need more women to take part in the conservation of our sport. Whether it is fishing or hunting women need to be aware of the urgency and need that grass roots efforts have for support. It does seem that when women get involved more gets done!!!!

So what do you do for habitat conservation? Maybe you have a project of your own, or belong to a conservation group like Ducks Unlimited or Pheasants Forever. From cleaning trash out of a stream, to planting upland bird habitat, to just making sure you recycle—every little bit helps.



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Laura Bell

Way To GO Joan Vernon! It takes Time, Effort, and Dedication to do what you have done and I thank you for it!

Conservation is something I've always read about, but I can't seem to find out how to get involved. ??? That may sound like an excuse, but point me to someone or something even, that can tell me about ways to help out my area, I would like to know. Do I contact the state DNR, if not who?


I did a Volunteer Summer Associate Position through AmeriCorps helping out the watershed in my area this past summer. We held a two-day event that introduced storm-drain marking, water quality research, and fishing to kids. Some of them had never even seen a fish before. We are also doing a stream sweep activity next weekend along with a water festival for children. Even though the position is through, I'm still helping with the weekend activities for the students. I am also doing research on the same lake we used for the event as a project for college. For the next 6 months, I'll be monitoring water quality by testing the nutrients and keeping track of the oxygen levels, among a few other parameters. It's not much, but every little bit helps. The lake has been used for years for paddleboats and it's stocked every winter with trout, not to mention the largemouths and other fish that remain all year.No research has ever been done, and this way there'll be an idea of the water quality. I personally trout fish there every year, so it'll be nice to now how healthy the water is. Conservation is more important than ever now, I wish I could do more.

Tanya Litz

Excellent work Joan!!! As a Floridian and member of the TBF myself I know how important the foundation and it's work is in the conservation efforts and as a fisherman I have seen the results out on the water. I have noticed several other organizations that are geared towards women and also provide them with the opportunity to learn about and get involved in conservation including "Women in the Outdoors" and "Ladies Let's go Fishing". You and all of these ladies deserve a round of applause and I do agree it does seem that when a woman gets involved...we get more done!

Kristine Shreve

Wow, Joan sounds like she's doing some good work.

Most of the stuff I've done has been small, picking up trash etc. I would guess that more women are involved in conservation than you might think.

Jodi Kotimaki

Wow! I'm am amazed at the dedication and hardwork that Joan put into her conservation effort! Great Job!

I teach 7th grade science. After reading the article about the teacher that started and has maintained a Conservation Club, I am very intrigued about starting something similiar in my own school. I'm wondering how he got started rolling. I haven't a clue about what to do. Anyone have any ideas?
Thank you,

Dana @ The Wild WoodsWoman

Congrats Joan on the award! I just read that article last night.

Jodi, Try contacting your local conservation officer - they may be able to help get something going at the school or at least have ideas or contacts for you?

I can't say I've done much official conservation. Mine consists of re-using copy paper at work and recycling. When I have a nephew in the car with me, I will pull over and have him run out and pick up garbage along the road! He seems to think that's really fun (!), and hopefully it's starting a conservation seed in him??

Wanda Hyleman

Concervation is very important, Thankfully my 11 year old is aware of it,as some kids aren't , we collect cans, we also save the plastic drink bottles & recycle them, as well as I use them
to send drinks in his lunch box, and he never cares what the other kids think about him using a gatorade bottle for his ice tea...
he will tell them he is saving the planet one bottle at a time.
I have raised him well.
Ladies keep up all the good work.


What a humbling inspiration. Where does she find the focus to take one project so far?!

I've jumped on my partner's wagon, helping him to lead fly fishing/catch and release trips in Mongolia. Taimen are ten years on the western radar as a sport fish, but urban Mongolians, Russians and other Eastern Europeans have been fishing them a lot longer. Netting, blasting and trophy hunting have put taimen at risk.

In eight years of working with our Mongolian counterparts, as well as with the efforts of other western and Mongolian guide companies and non- profits, we have endorsed and promoted the catch and release philosophy. Wonderfully so, new to Mongolia are the legal requirements of fishing permites, catch and release only for taimen, and even the presence of official Taimen Protectors- Mongolian officials that actually accompany anglers on their jaunts within certain aimags ("states") of Mongolia.

We still see evidence of easier, large treble-hook hunting (12" lures with two sets of treble hooks) and illegal netting. But it is with much joy that we see the changes too. Our Mongolian friends are not only catching taimen on the fly, they are releasing them, with joy, back to the rivers where they may grow to maturity and reproduce for the future.