Rick Watts Named QDMA Volunteer of the Year

Rick Watts of the Mason-Dixon Branch in Pennsylvania has been named QDMA’s Volunteer of the Year.

Fellow Keystone State member Tim Smail, the first-ever recipient of the Volunteer of the Year award in 2003, presented this year’s award to Rick (above, right) at QDMA’s 2013 National Convention.

Tim’s speech at the presentation sums it up best:

Only one volunteer is recognized each year with this award, but we all know that for each of us so recognized, there are countless others who have helped the organization in so may ways and at so many levels. And I want to thank you all for your service and for allowing me to serve beside you.

Things are well, and I'm glad to be able to attend this year's Convention. I was not able to attend in 2003 when I was awarded the first annual volunteer award because I was caring for my older sister who was ill and who, eventually, passed away shortly after the Convention. I have never regretted being able to care for one who had a very big hand in my own up-bringing and to whom much loving care was owed, but I have, ever since, regretted not being able to share with all of my fellow volunteers the honor of recognition by this highly respected organization which has been such a large part of my life for the last 14 years.

It’s often difficult for each of us to see the benefit to others of any one or all of our individual volunteer efforts, but we each stand on the shoulders of everyone else who has contributed before us and beside us. If I have ever accomplished anything for QDMA, for deer, for the Pennsylvania hunter, and for Pennsylvania society in general, I owe it all to not only Al Brothers, Joe Hamilton, and the other names we all know, but also to the two members who hosted a QDMA booth at the (to my recollection) 1999 Professional Bowhunter Society conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. If they had not been there to introduce me to QDMA, I may have gone on to something else and never gotten this involved in QDMA.

But, as things turned out, I know what it takes; I know the costs and the opportunity costs … what other things we, and you all, could be doing. And I know the real benefits, not only to the organization, deer hunters and society as a whole; but also the real benefits to myself – much of which, to me, is seeing others inspired and benefitting from my actions.

I welcome this opportunity, and I could not be more pleased than to share with all of you the presentation of this award to one of our own Pennsylvania volunteers who showed up at my third or fourth Branch formation meeting. It was held at the York County Extension office and attended by a half dozen interested members. But this one young fellow was brimming over with excitement about getting something started in his local area, and he went about it the right way – first building and maintaining a local Branch, then becoming more and more active with the State Chapter and, eventually, leading our State Chapter through the transition into the State Advisory Council, all the while maintaining his local Branch and continuing to host and participate in multiple educational events, locally and across the state, and he’s done this all without maintaining a list and beating his chest and our individual collective brow with all his accomplishments.

Rick is certainly deserving of this recognition and award.

Rick Watts was chosen from among three finalists for Volunteer of the Year, which also included Darren Boudreaux of Louisiana and Chase Burns of Illinois.