The Pistis Award is given in honor of Chuck Pistis, former Michigan Sea Grant Program Director.
It honors an individual or organization outside MCBA who is a defender of our Great Lakes and natural resources.
This year the Michigan Charter Boat Association proudly presented the Annual Pistis Award at our fall awards banquet to Donna Wesander.
Donna started work for Fisheries Division in 1991 as a Data Coding Operator at the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station. She then worked as an Environmental Quality Analyst for MDNR Environmental Response Division, before returning to Charlevoix as a Fisheries Technician in 1993. She was first responsible for the tagged fish collection, tag extraction, and evaluation of natural reproduction by Great Lakes salmon, but later shifted duties to support the Division creel survey and charter boat programs. She was promoted to the Fisheries Technician Specialist in charge of the statewide Charter Boat Reporting Program in 2003.
Since 2003, Donna has worked to significantly improve Charter Boat Survey Program operations and products. These improvements include the development of the Charter Boat Survey Program web page, development of a searchable online creel/charter results database, and development of an online reporting system for charter captains. Donna’s work has helped us keep pace with technology, cut costs for both the Division and for charter captains, and has opened up Great Lakes fisheries management options that were previously unavailable due to lack of timely data delivery. The MDNR Charter Boat Survey Program is a model for other similar programs throughout the country, and Donna is an outstanding ambassador for Michigan, the MDNR, and the state’s charter boat industry.
In 2012, Donna Wesander was the recipient of the “Tanner & Tody” award for her work on improving data quality and access to the state Charter Boat Survey Program. The Tanner & Tody award is given to Fisheries Division employees who have worked on specific projects which were of outstanding benefit to the Division, Department, and resource users of Michigan. This award’s name comes from two former DNR Fisheries Division Chiefs (Howard Tanner and Wayne Tody) who were willing to take major risks on projects that have had a significant impact on the fisheries we know today.
Donna represents everything that is good about public service. She has always worked tirelessly to do what is right for the resources and people of the state. Hallmarks of her career have been the way she has constantly worked to provide information and products that are useful to charter captains, and her consistent attention to providing data of the highest quality to Great Lakes fisheries managers. Reliability, accuracy, and timeliness of Charter Boat Survey Program products have improved greatly in the almost 20 years that Donna has been leading this program, as has the strength of the collaboration between the charter industry and Fisheries Division. Much of this improvement can be directly attributed to Donna’s hard work, her vision, and her strong relationship with the MCBA. Congratulations Donna, and thank you for all of your hard work!