It’s always time to talk about the environment. But considering that Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation Awards event is taking place Thursday, this week seems better than most for a post on the work sportsmen do for habitat.

Those of you who read the magazine know that for two years, Field & Stream has held this awards program to spotlight sportsmen and women who do great things for conservation. The magazine gets a number of entries throughout the year, and each fall, six winners are featured in the book and honored at an awards event in New York City.

I’ve been one of the editors working on this program, and having read hundreds of entries, I’ve been amazed by the fact that so few were from women. Of course, this wasn’t a huge shock considering that Field & Stream’s readers are overwhelmingly male. But I mean hardly any women were writing in about their conservation projects. There actually was one woman who made the semi-finalist round of 21 people in the program’s first year. But when we asked each of those 21 to provide more information so we could choose the winners, she was the only one who didn’t respond—so frustrating!

But the tides have turned in 2007. There were more entries from the ladies this year, and one Dscn0939_2 of the six winners to be honored at Thursday night’s event is a woman—and she’s awesome! Her name is Joan Vernon, she’s from Key Biscayne, Fla., and she’s vice-chairman of the Billfish Foundation (she’ll be our honorary fisherwoman on the blog). Joan does so much good work, I frankly have trouble keeping all her involvements straight. But the saltwater habitat conservation project she’s being recognized for is a massive research program that places $4,000 tracking tags into marlin, swordfish, and sailfish to collect habitat data.

Joan travels a lot for her work, but she took a minute last night between trips to email this comment for the blog:

There are many women involved in fresh and saltwater fishing these days. It is good to see women take an active part. We need more women to take part in the conservation of our sport. Whether it is fishing or hunting women need to be aware of the urgency and need that grass roots efforts have for support. It does seem that when women get involved more gets done!!!!

So what do you do for habitat conservation? Maybe you have a project of your own, or belong to a conservation group like Ducks Unlimited or Pheasants Forever. From cleaning trash out of a stream, to planting upland bird habitat, to just making sure you recycle—every little bit helps.