Gary Kania, who after a celebrated and highly impactful career that spanned 40 years, retired on Thursday June 30. In May 2006, Gary joined the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation as Vice President of Policy, later becoming Vice President. Throughout his career he focused on the advancement of the sportsmen’s agenda, both in terms of legislation and regulation. During his tenure at CSF, he guided many of the internal processes and inter-departmental collaboration within the organization, helping CSF significantly expand and evolve to the highly sophisticated and effective organization it is today. Gary was also a consummate manager and mentor and focused on lifting staff up and assisting them in the attainment of new skills and knowledge so they, and the organization at large, could attain still greater heights in the policy space. Prior to his time with CSF, Gary worked for the National Rifle Association, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the historic Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
During his 16-year tenure with CSF, Gary’s leadership, passion, and dedication made him an invaluable resource to the Foundation. Under Gary’s tutelage, CSF’s impact has grown dramatically, and the lasting impact of his work will continue to be felt throughout the organization and the broader sporting community for years to come – from the development of CSF’s States Program Team, to the language and branding we use when describing the American System of Conservation Funding, to the conception and eventual passage of Making Public Lands Public, and much more. Said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane, “Gary has been a trusted and highly valued colleague, and his vision has directly contributed to the success we’ve experienced at CSF.”
Elsewhere in the world of conservation, tributes were put forward in anticipation of Gary’s retirement. Earlier this year at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Steven Williams, Ph.D. had this to say, “Gary has a keen mind and rapier wit…Many times, Gary and I would cuss and discuss conservation policy. I don’t know if I ever won any of those debates, but I enjoyed the back and forth and his friendship through the years.”
On the day of Gary’s retirement, Mike Leonard of the American Sportfishing Associating said, “Over the past few decades, there may not be anyone who has done more for sportsmen’s access and conservation, and received less credit for it, than Gary…Looking back at the major pieces of sportsmen’s-related legislation in recent memory, Gary has had a hand in just about every one, either through direct involvement or guiding strategy from behind-the-scenes.”
In retirement, Gary will spend more time in the outdoors, enjoying his pursuits in the field and on the water. When he isn’t chasing deer, turkey, waterfowl, cobia, or stripers, he will continue to offer his time and energy to CSF as an advisor. CSF thanks Gary for his leadership and dedication over the years, as well as his continued willingness to support the organization in an advisory capacity in the months to come. The organization, our collective sporting community, and our fish and wildlife resources are all better off for Gary’s efforts. His legacy will carry forward on Capitol Hill and in state capitols across the nation for years to come.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?