Columbia, New Jersey Teen Wins NRA Achievement Award
The National Rifle Association has named 17-year-old Thomas James Czarnecki of Columbia, New Jersey, to receive its 2004 National Outstanding Achievement Youth Award. The award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship, will be presented at a special ceremony as part of the NRA's Board of Directors meeting in September 2004.
The award recognizes the NRA junior member who best meets standards of excellence in the shooting sports and educational achievements. Core requirements include high academic standing, membership in NRA and in an NRA-affiliated club or state association, completion of an NRA Firearm Training Course, participation in the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, and submission of an essay: "Why I Became Involved in the Shooting Sports."
Thomas has gone above and beyond the basic criteria for this award. His passion for hunting started as a child when he would patiently sit with his dad on deer hunts and wait until the day that he too could hunt with him. This was a tradition that was passed down from father to son. The day finally came when he was 11 years old, and from that time on, Thomas was hooked. Not only is he an avid hunter, he is also a recreational shooter, and ardent supporter of the shooting sports. He is heavily involved with NRA activities like the Youth Education Summit, volunteering and promoting the Eddie Eagle GunSafe®Program -- which he has taught at local elementary schools and to Cub Scout packs and Girl Scouts, and the Marksmanship Qualification Program.
In 1998, Thomas worked with the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife on black bear research thanks to his winning design on wildlife conservation in New Jersey. Since 2002, Thomas has been incubating and raising a variety of quail. Through his passion for hunting, he has developed an interest in wildlife management and plans on pursuing that field in college.
Thomas credits the shooting sports with helping him develop such skills as patience, self-control, discipline, and responsibility. "These are lifelong skills that I have been able to apply to other interests that I have, such as baseball, basketball and especially schoolwork," he stated.
"Thomas demonstrates the leadership skills and values the shooting sports instill in the youth of today. His interest in conservation and other important issues continues the legacy created by previous generations of hunters and shooters in promoting and protecting our natural resources and the shooting sports," commented Matt Szramoski, NRA Youth Programs Manager.