Steve Sams, who grew up on the prairies near Redwood Falls, has been selected as the Field and Stream 2013 Conservation Hero of the Year.
Steve Sams has always been an outdoor enthusiast.
“It started with my dad,” said Sams, who grew up enjoying nature in the Redwood area. “He helped me find a love for the outdoors. He also taught me about the importance of conservation.”
Those lessons have stayed with Sams over the years, and have led to his recent nomination and selection as the Field and Stream 2013 Conservation Hero of the Year.
“It’s a great honor,” said Sams, who lives in Prescott Valley, Ariz. “An award like this is not just about one person. There are so many others who deserve to be recognized with this award.”
Sams said someone from an outdoors organization he is involved with in Arizona nominated him, and to his surprise he was named one of six finalists.
To his “great surprise” he was then selected as the winner of the award during a Heroes of Con-servation gala held Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C.
Sams was recognized for his work in enhancing the outdoors through his career, as well as for the efforts he has made to educate the next generation.
Sams made a career of working in the outdoors, with the U.S. Forestry Service.
How does one who grew up in the prairie of Redwood County end up working in the forestry industry?
That, said Sams, has to do with his involvement in FFA and the influence of advisor Ben Broberg.
“I was looking for a career and Ben Broberg suggested I start looking at forestry,” said Sams. “I worked with forestry in FFA and grew Christmas trees as a project.”
Those efforts led Sams to being named the state Star in forestry as a senior.
“Ben Broberg was a good teacher and mentor,” said Sams, who then went on to the U of M to pursue a degree in forestry.
Over the years, Sams worked in various places, from Alaska to New Mexico, and he finished his career in Arizona. During those years he did everything from fighting forest fires to working as a park ranger.
“When we were kids Dad would take us camping and hunting, and he instilled in me and my brothers that outdoor ethic,” said Sams.
Although he thought they were just having fun, the lessons were sticking.
Sams said his dad, Lee, also taught him the value of giving back to one’s community, which led to his involvement in various organizations based on his passion for the outdoors. Sams has been involved in organizations focusing on everything from elk to pheasants, and he is currently serving as president of the Arizona National Wild Turkey Federation.
“For me it all fits together,” said Sams. “All of my life has been about the outdoors.”
Seeing the next generation losing interest led Sams to begin providing education and opportunities for youth to get involved in the outdoors.
He has also passed what he learned on to the next Sams generation. That, he said, is the way to keep that passion alive. Seeing that is Sams’ true reward.