George Gedney, of Queensbury, was named the recipient of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association’s prestigious M. Paul Keesler New York Outdoor Citizen Award at its annual conference held May 11-14, 2023 in Corning.
The Keesler Award is presented to an individual or organization that has effectively raised the public’s awareness of outdoor recreational opportunities and conservation issues in New York State. The award was created to honor worthy individuals and organizations, at the same time perpetuating the name of one of the organization’s dearest members. The late M. Paul Keesler spent nearly five decades promoting and conserving the outdoor wonders and recreational opportunities within New York State.
Gedney is most deserving of his award due to his longevity and thorough commitment for over three decades in the outdoor community. The most notable of these commitments over the years has been his involvement with youth development in shooting and outdoor sports. He has always believed that cultivating responsible, respectful, and resourceful youth is one of the most important pillars of ensuring that ethics, safety, and education remain in constant continuation in the outdoor community for generations.
For these 30-plus years, George has been a State certified shooting sports and hunter education instructor for 4-H. Hundreds of young students have sat in classrooms and on the range listening and learning substantial and, at times, life changing information that has molded them into great young outdoorsmen and women. From this program spawned several other smaller organizations and youth mentor programs such as the annual youth turkey hunt, in which kids are paired up with experienced mentors to be guided on turkey hunts during the New York youth hunting weekend in April. Many times, these outings are the first hunt which the youth has ever experienced. A very high percentage of them have since become avid hunters themselves. Other opportunities for youth to partake in mentorship programs have arisen in recent years, largely due to this person’s efforts and relentless passion to educate and excite the next generation of sportsmen.
Another major accomplishment in youth outdoor development that this person started was introducing the New York State High School Clay Target League in the northeast region of NY. The league is a nationwide association that has developed programs all over for high schoolers to compete in all facets of clay target sports, with the more popular option being trap shooting. In 2018, with the help of other individuals in the community as well as Hudson Falls Fish and Game Club members, the program gained traction. To date, 11 schools maintain a weekly schedule at HFFGC, shooting on their three trap fields. At the end of the season, Gedney hosts the “Foothills Challenge,” a day at HHFGC in which up to 25 schools are invited to compete in a trap shooting tournament. This program has changed kids’ lives, introduced new purposes, allowed them to forge relationships, become part of something large in their communities, and lay a foundation for a responsible path ahead in the outdoor sporting world.
As well as High School Clay Targets League, this year is the first year that a local college, SUNY Adirondack, has formed a trap shooting team, and they are also utilizing HFFGC for their spring season of shooting, as part of the Collegiate Clay Target program that is also nationwide. Other outdoor community involvement includes his years of volunteer work for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. as an active committee on the Lower Adirondack Chapter, helping facilitate annual fundraising events and awareness for an organization that focuses on conservation and environmental education.