2022 Fisheries Awards

Photos courtesy MDWFP

At the May Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks meeting, MDWFP recognized these three individuals from the Fisheries Bureau for their work and leadership throughout 2022.

2022 Fisheries Biologist of the Year

Keith Meals

Keith Meals

Keith began his career with the agency in 1986 as a fisheries biologist in northwest MS. He continues to be one of the Fisheries Bureau’s most knowledgeable and productive field biologists.

His expertise and dedication to fisheries management of the Mississippi flood control reservoirs (aka Arc of Slabs) has resulted in world-class crappie populations that are known across the country.

He has conducted and collaborated on many research projects over the years, such as:

  • Magnolia crappie – triploid hybrid for small impoundments
  • Single vs. multiple poll or “poll vs. troll” – impacts to crappie populations
  • Effects of water levels on sportfish spawning and recruitment habitat on FCRs
  • And he is one of the first to study the impacts of innovative technology, such as the use of Live Action Sonar, on crappie populations.

Keith is no stranger to recognitions and has received many awards during his career, including SEAFWA Fisheries Biologist of the Year, MSAFS Lifetime Achievement Award, USACE Commander’s Medallion for Outstanding Achievement (Tunica Cutoff weir), and MS Wildlife Federation’s Fisheries Conservationist of the Year.

2022 State Lake Manager of the Year

Gregory Perry

Gregory Perry

Greg began his career with MDWFP in 2017 as the lake manager at Simpson County Lake. Greg’s enthusiasm and hard work ethic was evident from the beginning. He basically hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped, always trying to make improvements.

Greg works well with other staff and is always ready to lend a helping hand. Simpson County Lake has been closed the past few years due to dam repairs, and during that time, Greg worked many hours at other state lakes, assisted fisheries biologists with projects, and helped train new lake managers.

He’s a good mechanic, maintains a CDL license and helps with transporting and operating heavy equipment, often works our agency’s booths at Wildlife Expos and assists at AIMS events.

Over the past year, Greg has worked hard to make facility improvements and prepare for the reopening of Simpson County Lake. This includes:

  • Making significant upgrades to the campground
  • Gathering Christmas trees after the holidays for fish attractor
  • Repainting the pavilions
  • Building new picnic tables
  • Road improvements

2022 Fisheries Support Employee of the Year

Danny Joe Freeny

Danny Joe Freeny

Danny Joe started as a contract worker on the boat ramp construction crew in 1988, and was hired full-time a year later.

In 2007, he was promoted to Boat Ramp Construction Crew Supervisor. He and the boat ramp crew have also built boat docks and fishing piers at our state fishing lakes, state park lakes, and other public waters. When you pass a boat ramp in Mississippi, there is a good chance that Danny Joe had a hand in building it. Over the last 35 years, he has been a part of the construction of approximately 200 boat ramps. Most recently at Paul B Johnson State Park, Percy Quin State Park, Roosevelt State Park, Lake Mary Crawford, and Simpson County Lake.

In his time on the boat ramp crew, he has used his fabricating expertise to design equipment to assist in the construction of the piers. One example of this is a barge-mounted pile driver that the boat ramp crew uses to drive the pilings for the piers. Another example is a a weed catcher fitted to a pontoon boat to help remove unwanted plants from lakes.

Other activities that Danny Joe and his team have been involved with include repairs to nature trails at Leflore’s Bluff State Park and the Museum of Natural Science as well as spillway repairs at Lake Bogue Homa and Holmes County.

Quoting his supervisor, “There’s just not much this man can’t do.”

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