QDMA Announces 2018 Branch Achievement Award Winners

ATHENS, GA (July 26, 2018) – QDMA’s mission to secure the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage could not be realized without the tireless work of our grassroots volunteers. Their efforts and achievements were in the spotlight at the National Convention when QDMA named the winners our 2018 Branch Achievement Awards.

“Our Branch volunteers are the lifeblood of QDMA,” said Ryan Furrer, QDMA’s Senior Regional Director. “They work to recruit new QDMA members, promote the Quality Deer Management philosophy, and raise the funds that drive our pursuit of QDMA’s mission both locally and nationally. Recognizing their greatest achievements is a highlight of Convention for the QDMA staff.”

The 2018 awards and recipients are as follows:

Branch of the Year: East Central Ohio Branch

L-R: Steve Levi, QDMA Director of Membership; Brian Yoder, Branch President; Mark Schlabach, Branch Vice President; Corey Slater, QDMA Regional Director.

This QDMA Branch hit the ball out of the park in 2018. Led by Branch President Brian Yoder and a strong committee of 20-plus volunteers, this Branch is always recruiting new members and adding to their Tiverton QDMA Cooperative. They host a successful youth hunt every year for 12 to 17 kids from their area, securing the properties, guides, and equipment needed to be successful. They give away scholarships, participate in a venison donation program, and they held one of QDMA’S highest-earning banquets with over 300 members and $100,000 raised for QDMA.

Branch President of the Year: Jon Ranck, Virginia

L-R: Kevin Gillespie, QDMA Board of Directors; Jon Ranck, Virginia; Rick Counts, QDMA Regional Director.

Now in his tenth year as President of QDMA’s River City Branch in Virginia, Jon has gone above and beyond the call of duty, year in and year out. Jon and the River City Branch host an annual youth hunt at Jon’s farm, they hold countless educational events, do community outreach, provide scholarships and operate a successful venison donation program.

New Branch of the Year: Pinebelt Branch of Mississippi

L-R: Mike Mitchell, Branch President; Steve Long, QDMA Regional Director; Justin Thayer, Branch Committee.

In their first year, this new QDMA Branch held a banquet that generated over $57,000 and 200 QDMA memberships. They also held four educational events and brought Soterra LLC to the table as a corporate supporter of QDMA and their leaseholders on board as QDMA members.

Volunteer of the Year: David Galloway, South Carolina

L-R: Nicole Garris, QDMA Board of Directors; David Galloway, South Carolina; Brian Murphy, QDMA CEO.

David is the banquet chairman for the Lowcountry Branch of South Carolina. He’s also the President of the South Carolina State Advisory Council. Along with leading the Branch’s annual banquet, which is one of QDMA’s best in terms of fundraising and membership, David also plays a huge role in organizing the QDMA membership drives and educational events at the annual, four-day South Eastern Wildlife Expo.

Branch Event of the Year: Athens Branch of Georgia, “Field to Fork”

L-R: Hugh Sosebee, QDMA Board of Directors; David Kidd, Branch committee and Field to Fork mentor.

In their second year as a Branch, this group facilitated a Field to Fork program for 10 adult first-time hunters in the Athens, Georgia area. Over a period of months, Branch volunteers educated, mentored and guided the new hunters. They either opened up their personal hunting lands and stands to these new hunters or helped them find properties to hunt all season long. They then celebrated the hunt with a wild game feast at the end of the season, by which time 10 deer had been harvested by the new hunters.

Sponsor Membership Branch of the Year: Neshoba Branch, Mississippi

Accepting on behalf of the Branch was Steve Long, QDMA Regional Director (L). Heather Meaker, QDMA Events and Field Operations Manager.

The Neshoba Branch was named the Sponsor Membership Branch of the Year for recruiting 112 sponsor memberships in only their second year as a QDMA Branch. They also nominated a youth for QDMA’s National Youth Hunt.

Fundraising and Membership Branch of the Year: Lowcountry Branch, South Carolina

L-R: David Galloway, Branch banquet chairman; Mary Helen Canaday, Branch President; Rick Counts, Regional Director; Matt Meadows, Branch Vice President.

The Lowcountry Branch of South Carolina took home two awards, having both the highest number of QDMA memberships produced (826) and the most funds raised for QDMA at their annual banquet ($168,000). In its nine-year history, the Lowcounty Branch has won numerous awards. This is the third time the Branch has earned the Membership award, having claimed it in 2015 and 2016.

Volunteer Appreciation Award: Kyle Bennett, Louisiana

L-R: Kyle Bennett, Louisiana; Joe Hamilton, QDMA Founder.

Kyle is a QDMA Life Member and Branch President of the Southwest Louisiana Branch. He’s a Level II QDMA Deer Steward and is working on Level III. On his own time, Kyle hosts his “Bucks and Brews” pint nights at local brewerys to spread QDMA’s message and grow its membership. He frequently speaks on behalf of QDMA at events, on podcasts, and through active social media efforts. He also mentors first-time hunters annually and volunteers countless hours at trade shows representing QDMA.

Volunteer Appreciation Award: Erik Schnelle, Michigan

Erik Schnelle, Michigan.

Erik serves at the Michigan State Advisory Council President along with being very active in QDMA’s West Central Michigan Branch. Erik worked tirelessly over the past year to represent QDMA in providing the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and Michigan DNR with input on a comprehensive approach to address chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Michigan. Erik’s plan was published in the State’s two major outdoor publications. Erik also worked with the Boone & Crocket club and Michigan State University deer research team to better understand disease-related approaches to deer management across the country. He shared his findings with QDMA national staff and Branches throughout Michigan.

“QDMA congratulates these hard-working volunteers on all of their achievements, as well as many more who were nominated or considered for these awards who also contribute greatly to the future of deer hunting,” said Furrer. “I look forward to another great year working with all of them.”