Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has selected Wildlife Officer Dan Lehman as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Wildlife Officer of the Year for 2014.
The NWTF annually honors a California wildlife officer who serves as an outstanding example of supporting its mission on behalf of wild turkeys, turkey hunting and wildlife conservation. Capt. Lehman will now be in the competition for NWTF’s Officer of the Year Award for 2014.
Lehman is a 22-year CDFW employee who places a high priority on outreach and education in the area of safety and conservation. He is one of CDFW’s leading ambassadors for hunter education, and has spearheaded hunter recruitment and retention efforts for CDFW. Studies have shown that for new hunters to continue hunting they must be successful at some level, and CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program prepares hunters for safe, enjoyable and successful hunts.
In 2008, Lehman transferred into the Hunter Education Program as the advanced hunter education program coordinator. Advanced hunter education clinics are designed for both the novice and the experienced hunter. In 2008, the clinic schedule had eleven clinics statewide, but by 2014 Lehman had helped expand the program to 20 clinics.
In the past three years, approximately 2,000 students have participated in CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program. Men, women, youths and older Californians alike took the courses. The clinics also provided training to California volunteer hunter education instructors to make them better prepared to teach standard hunter education classes.
Lehman accomplished his mission with no support staff and attended most of the clinics himself, at times sacrificing free time with his family. Lehman also worked with both California and national conservation organizations, including NWTF, to host clinics taught by experts.
The NWTF, a national nonprofit organization, was founded in 1973. Through partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations throughout North America.