Standing in a rustic Vancouver Island, British Columbia, fishing camp last August, connected by phone to an ongoing Missouri Conservation Commission meeting in Kansas City, I agreed to become the sixth director in the history of the Missouri Conservation Department. From that moment, life for my wife Janet and me has been a blur of motion and events - selling and buying a house; packing and unpacking; getting acquainted with new people, places, programs and processes.
During the last months of 1996, I worked closely as director designate with Director Jerry Presley as he closed out his 39-year career with the Conservation Department. Jerry's wholehearted assistance, insight and friendship greatly eased my transition and will not soon be forgotten. I learned firsthand how Jerry earned the inscription on the national conservation award given to him last year: "Resource manager, administrator, and gentleman."
Throughout my career, spanning conservation jobs and places as diverse as fish chief in Iowa and director in Kansas and Idaho, I have tried a variety of ways to communicate with the people who ultimately pay the bill for conservation. This has included hosting weekly radio talk shows and TV spots, writing monthly magazine columns, attending numerous events and programs, and going one-on-one with folks whenever and wherever the occasion allows. I intend to continue the same communication ways in this position and consider this and subsequent monthly columns in the Conservationist as a big first step in that process.
This column will be slightly different than other articles in the Conservationist. My objective will be to share with you a director's view of the workings and plans of the Conservation Department and conservation in general. I'll tell you about our successes and failures and point out what we learned.
By reporting in this manner, I hope to encourage you to share your ideas, criticisms and views with me so I can do the kind of job Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources deserve. In addition to reaching me in the usual manner,
I can also be reached at my e-mail address: Jerry.Conley@mdc.mo.gov
In my career, I've learned the importance of having a conservation ethic and sticking with it, and of selecting good professional folks and letting them do their job - and backing them when they do what's necessary for conservation to succeed.
As a Missouri native, I am aware of the tremendous progress the Conservation Department, working with the public, has made in managing our forest and wildlife resources. Our Conservation Department is one of the finest in the country, and resource agencies in other states often copy our programs. The public support the Department enjoys and the employees of the Conservation Department have made our achievements possible.
I am grateful to the Missouri Conservation Commission for the opportunity to join the Missouri Conservation team and will strive to provide the highest level of professional leadership.
I'd like to end this first column with this thought: Conservation work can never have enough friends. Join us and share your talents in writing new, exciting chapters in the book of Missouri conservation history.
- JERRY CONLEY
Editor - Kathy Love
Assistant Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Composition - Kevin Binkley
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Staff Writer - Charlotte Overby
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer