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2019 ‘Conservationist of the Year’ Awarded to Thomas DiGregorio of Dorchester County

Photo of Wildlife and Heritage Service staff standing with Conservationist of the Year Thomas DiGregorio, displaying his framed award.=

From left to right: Jacob Peregrim, Paul Peditto, Thomas DiGregorio;, Lou Compton, and Greg Schenk

On behalf of the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce that Thomas DiGregorio has been recognized as the 2019 Conservationist of the Year. The award was presented at the Nov. 20 meeting of the Wildlife Advisory Commission at the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis.

“Tom DiGregorio’s dedication to the ideals of conservation and habitat management for the betterment of wildlife is apparent to all who meet him,” Wildlife Advisory Commission Chairman Lou Compton said. “For this continued perseverance of conservation and appreciation for the results he has produced, we are proud to honor Tom DiGregorio with the 2019 Maryland Conservationist of the Year award.”

Tom is a lifelong resident and native of Maryland. He grew his outdoor roots from an early age while being raised on his family property in White Marsh, where he began hunting, fishing, and trapping with his father and brothers. Tom and his wife Marcella eventually purchased 418 acres on Steele Neck Road in Vienna for farming, hunting, and carrying out their conservation goals.

In 1995, Tom sought assistance from his local wildlife field office at LeCompte Wildlife Management Area. He specifically wanted help developing several management prescriptions for improving quail, turkey, and rabbit habitat on his property. Tom enrolled more than 30 acres of cropland into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, with a mix of warm season grasses and pollinator plots serving as buffers between fields, wetland areas, and field edges. 

Through the years,Tom has tirelessly continued to expand his conservation ideals and habitat management goals, including timber stand improvements, tree plantings of pine, hardwoods and shrubs, aerial applications to manage woody stem succession on forest edges, prescribed burns of warm season grasses, installation and maintenance of wood duck boxes and purple martin nesting boxes, predator trapping, and planting various food plots. 

These efforts go above and beyond the normal efforts of any landowner to improve their property for the success of wildlife. While using the professional resources of his local wildlife office, Tom has ensured that the relationship goes both ways.

Tom has given back to the Department of Natural Resources whenever he can, starting with granting access to wildlife staff to trap and relocate wild turkeys from a large flock that frequented his woods and fields. In addition, Tom has allowed staff to trap and band mourning doves, ducks, and geese on his property for years. Tom also regularly participates in the annual wild turkey observation survey and is an active member of the Maryland Fur Trapping Association and Ducks Unlimited.

“He is always interested in projects conducted in our Wildlife Management Areas,” said Lecompte WMA habitat biologist Greg Schenck, who has been professionally associated with DiGregorio since 1996. “His daily routine includes walking or riding around the farm and keeping daily records of the weather and any wildlife that he views.”

At 81 years old, Tom continues to hunt, fish, and trap on his property and in the waterways of Dorchester County with his son and grandson.