By Lance Cherry, Council to Advance Hunting & the Shooting Sports
As I come to the end of my term as President of ACI, I can’t help but reminisce on the incredible journey it has been. The past decade has been filled with remarkable achievements, memorable moments and cherished connections. The people who make up this amazing organization continue to demonstrate an unwavering dedication to being the best communicators and conservation leaders in the world.
Truly, being an active member of this organization has been one of the greatest and most rewarding professional experiences for me, and the entire organization stands out as beacon for what can be accomplished when the heart and soul of its membership is steadfast in its purpose.
When I became president, I envisioned elevating our status among the organizations that make up the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). I knew with the talent and support of the ACI Board, we could increase relevancy and amplify the voices in the conservation community. Today, I can proudly say we exceeded those expectations, solidifying our reputation as an influential force in shaping the future of conservation communication.
I am incredibly proud of the initiatives we have undertaken during my tenure. Following the unavoidable pause caused by the pandemic, we successfully executed our first, and hopefully only, virtual conference and navigated the return of our signature in-person event.
We are leading the charge in the innovative and important Multistate Conservation Grant Program projects, which exemplify the purpose of the program and will have lasting benefits for generations of conservation communicators. We have sponsored important events, helping others return to their own sense of normalcy, and we have kept ACI on solid financial ground.
Our collaborations, partnerships and engagement in important issues have strengthened the foundations of ACI. By collectively bringing our resources, expertise and influence together, we have made a lasting impact.
I would be remiss to not acknowledge those who have served as ACI’s executive officers, Board of Directors and Committee chairs during my tenure. They have been the true leadership driving this organization. Executive officers: Vice President Sara DiRienzo, Treasurer Judy Stokes Weber, Secretary Blake Podhajsky, Past President Jenifer Wisniewski. Board members and Committee chairs: Tim Akimoff, Patricia Allen, Scott Ball, Sara Correa, Dan Dennison, Linda DiPiano, Darrin Hill, Micah Holmes, Kay Ellerhoff, Jason Harmon, Ashley Sanchez, Craig Sanchez, Sarah Southerland, Fairly Mahlum, Kyle Martens, Chris Martin, Joanne Martonik, Aaron Meier, James Pitman and Beth Quillan.
Each one of you has my deepest gratitude for your unwavering support and dedication throughout my tenure as President. You have been my rock, provided invaluable counsel and embody the spirit that makes ACI great. I am honored to have served alongside such exceptional professionals. I know ACI is in the hands of incredible leadership.
As I pass the torch to ACI’s next President, I have every confidence in ACI and its members to lead with passion, resilience and an unwavering commitment to lead the exchange of ideas, new concepts, and to improve skills and craftsmanship in conservation communication.
Although my term as President is ending, like you, my commitment to ACI will not. I will continue to be an advocate for this organization and look forward to my next term as your Past President.
Thank you to everyone, for allowing me to serve as President on this extraordinary journey and I look forward to the next chapter for ACI.