Our seven finalists included (from left) Terri and Gordon Southwick, of Garibaldi, Ore., John Walther, of Thibodaux, La., Nancy Craft, of Hughesville, Pa., Les Monostory, of Fayetteville, N.Y., Gale Dupree, of Loyalton, Calif., and Bob Capron (not pictured), of Cody, Wyo. Mark Von Holden
The 2009 Hero of the Year, Howard Kern (center), socializes with F&S staffers at the reception. Mark Von Holden
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. His focus was on rural values and public access. “We’re seeing a shrinkage of land available for these great hunting opportunities,” Vilsack said. “And we have to figure out creative ways to make sure that that land is available.” Mark Von Holden
Joe Straley, a member of the Northern Front Range Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation, is presented the Conservation Chapter of the Year Award from F&S Conservation Editor Bob Marshall. Mark Von Holden
And the 2010 Heroes of Conservation Hero of the Year is…Gale Dupree. A resident of Loyalton, Calif., Gale has worked for decades to restore the population of sage grouse in Nevada. Mark Von Holden
From left, Eric Zinczenko, VP, Publisher, Field & Stream, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, 2010 Hero of the Year Gale Dupree, Danielle Benjamin, senior strategist with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and F&S Editor Anthony Licata. Mark Von Holden

On October 6, we held our 5th annual Heroes of Conservation Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. A prevailing theme of the ceremony was that individual sportsmen can make a huge impact. “These everyday hunters and fishermen don’t wait for someone to solve conservation problems,” said F&S Editor Anthony Licata. “They roll up their sleeves and get to work, and the results benefit all Americans.”