The NSTRA Distinguished Members award, established in 2012, honors those extraordinary men and women whose contributions and achievements significantly helped develop, or continue to improve, the National Shoot to Retrieve Field Trial Association, Inc. We are deeply thankful for their dedication to the sport of field trialing. These are the members whose leadership and commitment established this organization and continues to make NSTRA the premier bird-dog trialing competition it is today.
Nominations are to be submitted by August 31. A short description of the individual and their contributions to NSTRA along with a picture, if available, are sent to the national office. The selection panel is made up of 3 veteran NSTRA members (not to include National Elected Officers) selected by the National President reviews all nominations and verifies the contributions. The committee will make their decision by September 30 with the final selection of recipients will be voted on by the Board of Directors.
This award is presented annually at the Dog of the Year banquet. The first year 11 individuals were inducted. Thereafter up to 2 individuals per year are selected. A permanent plaque will be located at the NSTRA office and at the Bird Dog Foundation in Grand Junction, Tennessee. A smaller plaque is awarded to the individual, or their family if deceased.
The criteria for the award is as follows: The nominated Individual must meet a minimum of 5 of these criteria and item number 7 must be one of them.
2005-2007, Illinois Region President National President
1990-1992, National President
1982-1984, National President
1984-1987, National President
2002, Tom Love Lifetime Achievement Award
1987-1990, National President 2003, Tom Love Lifetime Achievement Award
Jeanne was instrumental, at the beginning, with the paperwork for recording of members, dogs and field trials. She knew everyone and all the dogs that were involved. There was never a time when she would not have a smile on her face. She was the go-to person.
She was at the field trials and always helped with anything needed. Her mind was an encyclopedia of NSTRA information.
Jeanne was a friend and mentor to all of NSTRA. She was always looking for ways to make NSTRA a better organization.
She was involved with Purina, Tritronics and American Field from the start. All the sponsors looked to Jeanne for information in any area of NSTRA.
Everyone that met her would know she only wanted NSTRA to grow and prosper for many years to come. Her heart and mind were always open to new ideas. There will never be anyone more dedicated to the good of NSTRA.
Frank has been a valued member of NSTRA, for over 30 years. He has served as President of the Midwest Region; taught judging seminars before we had judging instructors; judged numerous weekend trials and nine Regional Trials in three different region. Many of these trials, Frank donated his judging to help the clubs and regions financially.
In the days when trials were judged on horseback, he donated his horses. When we started judging on ATVs, Frank again donated his ATVS.
Frank is a member of the ownership group which purchased, developed and maintains the 320 acre Iowa Gun Dog Association trial grounds at Osceola, IA.
Frank has been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of NSTRA for nearly half of his life.
Donny was one of the gentlemen involved in the beginning of the Shoot to Retrieve days. He was a member of the Conservation Bird Dog Club at Amo, and integral to helping NSTRA become what it is today. Donny was a very competitive member and traveled to many trials promoting NSTRA along the way. As a former teacher, coach and a successful real estate salesman, along with his passion for wild bird hunting, he was the ideal person to spread the word of Shoot to Retrieve. Donny also served as the NSTRA National Secretary for several years.
Art was a founding member of the Midwest Region. As agricultural manager for the nine Amana Colonies, Art often used his influence and connections to secure grounds on which to run trials. Later, he worked with the Iowa DNR to designate the public land at Palo, IA as trial grounds for NSTRA and the Iowa horseback clubs. Bob West provided funding for a shelter house on these grounds; Art organized and supervised the shelter’s construction, along with clearing and grooming the grounds.
Art campaigned Norilious Timberwolf (Cindy) to the Midwest dog of the year title in 1983.
In 1988, then NSTRA president, Ron Robertson, presented Art with the first complimentary lifetime membership card along with the President’s Award proclaiming him NSTRA Senior citizen of the Year.
Art was 65 years of age when he started in NSTRA. He passed away in 1990, at the age of 83. During those 17 years, he served as a mentor and role model for many of us new to the game. He was a very quiet, but forceful and effective behind the scenes advocate for NSTRA.
To get a sense of the influence Al has over members in the Illinois region you have to know that he was nominated by three different people. We can quote statistics of how many trials he has judged and the number of dogs he’s championed but what really matters is the kind of NSTRA member he represents.
If you wanted to describe the ideal NSTRA member, some words would come to mind like competitive, fair, helpful, objective, well-respected, and friendly. Al embodies all of these and then some. All of the nominations emphasized his integrity and sportsmanship. He is admired for his willingness to give advice and encouragement to anyone, from the newest member with everything to learn, or to a leader that needs a clear and objective opinion. Al has graciously contributed his time to help out the Illinois region when they need it most. Proof of that is the innumerable times he has donated his services to judge the Shriner’s trial over a 20 year span.
It is not unusual to enter a trial in the Illinois region and be braced against a dog that at some point or another has been trained by Al. It is also not unusual for Al to sell a dog to a young person at a very reasonable price so that he/she can remain involved in a competitive way. It is also not unusual to go to a trial and be braced against Al for one of his many runs. To this day, at the age of 80 Al still runs his dogs in trails every weekend with the only concession that his is willing to make to age is that he now rides a four wheeler when handling his dogs. No one wants to be braced against this octogenarian. He is no easy draw!!
We believe that NSTRA is a better organization because of Al Greeling’s participation over the years. We are fortunate to call him our friend and mentor.
At well over six feet tall, with a big booming voice and a hearty laugh, it would be hard to ignore Jim Mahoney. And Jim has been involved in almost every aspect of NSTRA membership. A lifetime NSTRA member, Jim has been influencing this organization for a long time. He is a past national president and Ohio region president, taking over that spot in the late 80’s when the region was in need of stability. Jim’s collaborative leadership style helped the region grow in a time when declining membership was becoming all too familiar across our organization.
He participates in weekend trials throughout the country and has provided the ever popular Mahoney Farms ground for field trials in the Ohio region. Jim can be found at almost every national field trial and rarely fails to take home a placement with whatever dog he is currently running. Just this year, his young dog Jake brought home the runner-up placement in the Ohio Region Elimination. He also has a NSTRA Hall of Fame dog, Tomoka’s Hot Spot. He is a consistent and competitive trialer who is more than willing to lend an ear and offer his advice to members from across the country. He is always willing to educate newer, less experienced members of NSTRA on judging, breeding or trialing of bird dogs.
Field trialer, trainer, breeder, mentor, judge, national and regional officer, trial chairman, Hall of Famer and now Distinguished Member, Jim has occupied and performed well in every part of NSTRA to date. We are looking forward to his next success in the NSTRA realm.
As you can see from the above, and from the other individuals who have been selected to receive this award, a NSTRA Distinguished Member shares many of the same values. They are involved. Involved in their regions at a local level, as a regional officer or involved at the national level. They are fair. Fair in their actions, the way they play the game or in the way they review any situation. They are helpful. They help all members, new or old and they give of their advice freely. They are well-respected among their peers. They are not perfect. But always, they try to improve this organization. That is why we admire them.
What does it take to be selected as a Distinguished Member? In addition to the written qualifications it takes something special; a spark, a commitment, a desire to make our organization better and the work ethic to see that it gets done. Ron Huels is the epitome of the “something special”.
Ron is the ultimate volunteer. He has judged and field marshalled numerous national, regional and weekend trials, often on back-to-back weekends. He donates his time and resources for many events and even took on the job of a National Officer for a few months when we had a vacancy. He didn’t sit back and bide his time either. No, he jumped right in and started asking questions and providing his advice right from the start. That is the way Ron is. If you ask him to do something, he does it with gusto!
In 2005, the Illinois Region, with Ron in the lead, took on the task of hosting a large trial where all the money raised was donated to the Shriners’ Crippled Children’s Hospital. Ron works hard to make sure this event goes off without a hitch. In addition to the entries, he has to round up volunteer officials and work to get items donated. No easy task, but with his friendly nature and hearty hand shake, he is successful year after year. Last year, after government funding issues closed his regular trial grounds, he had to secure a new location with little time to spare. Again, he was determined and successful. This trial raised over $27,000.
Ron is appreciative and never fails to thank people for their assistance and hard work. He is the guy to go to if you are new. He welcomes you as if you were his oldest friend and will steer you in the right direction or to the people you can help you the best. NSTRA and the Illinois region have benefited from having Ron Huels as a member and thank him for his service.
To truly understand the contributions and benefits a member of any organization has made upon that organization you must look not only at that member’s personal achievements and records but more importantly what that member has done for the benefit of their fellow members and ultimately their organization. It is in that spirit that Tom has excelled to the point of being recognized as a distinguished member of NSTRA.
As a member Tom has achieved that which we all desire, he has won a National Championship, Had a Dog Elected to the Hall of Fame, and campaigned multiple champions over the years. These accomplishments were considered in his nomination and election as an NSTRA distinguished member but it is all of the other services and help that truly distinguish his membership. Tom has volunteered the use of his farm for over 20 years of Kentucky Region field trialing. He not only allows the use of the grounds for field trials but has always invited any member to stop by and work their dogs with no need for advance notice.
Tom has gone the extra mile for his organization and fellow members in many different ways. He has served as a judge, trial chairman, region board member, judging instructor, and national officer. He is one of the longest tenured members in the Kentucky Region, having been a member for over 30 years.
Tom’s greatest contribution to the sport has long been his willingness to provide guidance and encouragement to new NSTRA members. He has always gone the extra mile to help any member get involved in the sport, be it training advice, rules advice or simple encouragement to “stay at it”. It would be hard to measure or quantify the benefit that a member like Tom McCandless provides to an organization. It is for this and all of that he has done that Tom is undoubtedly a Distinguished Member.