Two outstanding DIF&W staffers get well-deserved recognition

DIF&W LogoTwo outstanding staff members of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife received awards and well deserved recognition at the end of 2016. I’ll give you the entire DIF&W news release at the end of this column, but I want to tell you this before you read the release.

I have known Jim Connolly for a long time. He worked his way up to his current position as the Director for Resource Management, which means he’s the head of both the fisheries and the wildlife divisions.

We have joked for years that when Jim doesn’t want to answer one of my questions, he simply says nothing. If we’re on the phone, the line goes dead, until I say something else.

Fortunately, he’s also very willing to provide information that helps me keep you informed of what’s happening at the department.

Now, here’s the news.

Augusta, Maine — James Connolly, Bureau Director for Resource Management was awarded the William Twarog Manager of the Year award on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, by Governor Paul R. LePage, at the Blaine House in Augusta.   The annual William Twarog Awards were created to honor William “Bill” Twarog and his work by recognizing State employees who promote quality services, listen to consumer voices and provide a role model for excellence in management.  Jim’s nomination read:

“Jim Connolly sets the standard for a leader and manager.  His tenure with the Department, over 35 years, and the many different roles he has held give him excellent perspective and understanding.  He is patient, even keeled, willing to listen and easy to approach. The morale of the entire fisheries and wildlife divisions has improved under his direction.  Jim is passionate, dedicated and engaged and he inspires staff to be their best.  Wildlife and fisheries staff are extremely fortunate to have him as our director.”

Jim has been a Biology Aide, Computer Services Supervisor, Regional Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Division Director and currently Director of Resource Management for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  Throughout his career he has demonstrated his passion and dedication to his work and the State of Maine.  This is not his first honor.  He has been honored with the Employee Service Award (1996), the Kenneth H. Anderson Award (1998), Silver Beaver Award from the Katahdin Area Boy Scout Council (2002), and was the recipient of the 2010 Employee of the Year for Wildlife.

“The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is extremely grateful to Jim Connolly for his service to the people and resources of our state,” said Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

Tom Schaeffer, a regional wildlife biologist for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was honored Dec. 7, 2016 by Governor Paul R. LePage, at the Blaine House in Augusta, with the Department/Agency Employee Service Award.  Tom’s nomination read:

“Tom has been a wildlife biologist with IFW for over 40 years and his passion, dedication and enthusiasm for the job rival that of a brand new employee.  Tom initiates new projects, provides detailed input to many existing programs and is a role model and mentor for many of the Department’s younger staff.  His knowledge of wildlife management issues, Department history, and his customer service skills are unparalleled.  Tom’s work ethic, attitude and commitment to our mission set an example that we all hope to achieve.”

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock commented, “Tom Schaeffer’s exceptional career in the wildlife division has greatly enhanced our management of the resources of Maine.”

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.