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Dedicated to Conservation

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

of the state, but educating his neighbors and others of the need for the new laws. He found many landowners willing to improve the habitat on their land for wildlife, and he also signed up landowners who wanted fish stocked in their ponds and lakes. He found himself in the public schools educating young students through the Nature Knights program about conservation, and writing newspaper articles on issues relating to conservation in his district.

His new position now took him off the farm, but his love of the outdoors and for wildlife made the new venture well worth it. His wife, Mary, daughters Helen and Rachel and son, Charles Jr., assumed the extra responsibilities on the farm during his absences. As the Conservation Department grew, more agents went to the field and Palmer's district became smaller. The original four counties changed to two, Boone and Howard, then finally to only Randolph County.

His responsibilities did not decrease, but by having smaller districts, he could focus his attention. Work loads were still heavy. His daughter-in law, Mildred, remembers him coming home well after dark, many times with boxes of papers or receipts to sort out. The family would sit for hours and help him sort fur record receipts, making sure that names and numbers all corresponded. The agent's position became a family affair. That tradition continues today.

For years, agents wrote a monthly narrative spelling out their observations as well as their activities for the month to their immediate supervisors. In April 1944 Agent Palmer reported the arrest and conviction of a Howard County resident on a charge of having a deer carcass illegally. This is the first deer known to have been killed in Howard County in many years and was thought to have been one of a pair observed frequently near the Boone/Howard county line during the past winter.

In November 1945, he participated in a road check on Hwy. 19 near Montgomery City. Agents contacted 252 hunters who had in their possession 1,383 rabbits, 343 quail and 32 squirrels. Most hunters reported hunting in Audrain, Monroe and other northeast counties.

Agent Palmer reported that the fall of 1947 was fairly quiet. "Early fur prices are not attractive enough to induce many illegal hunters or trappers to go out after game prior to the opening of the fur season this winter." In March 1948 Palmer wrote, "I have always thought the under-the-ice fishermen were the hardiest of the lot. That is until I ran across a 20 year-old boy during a late March cold snap. He was stripped and wading in four feet of water to anchor his trotline across Perche Creek."

Palmer is remembered by those who knew him as a quiet yet determined man. Dedicated? He had to be, for he earned $1,620 annually, plus a small allowance for using the family car and three days off per month, not to include weekends or holidays. During those years there were no health or retirement benefits.

He gained the respect of all he came in contact with, successfully promoting conservation and gaining support for the Conservation Department. Mildred, when asked if she thought he ever had any regrets about his life, said, "No regrets. I never heard him say, 'I should have been a lawyer.'" Palmer's son and his wife continue to operate the family farm.

When Palmer retired Feb. 15, 1955, at the age of 75, the local newspaper ran a small article that read, "Charles Palmer, conservation agent for Randolph County, turned in his badge and retired from the Conservation Commission ending a distinguished 17-year career as guardian of Missouri's wildlife and forestry resources."

Palmer died July 29, 1957. He was one of many who laid the ground work and built the foundation for today's Conservation Department. We will continue to remodel the field of conservation, but it is impossible to go forward without taking a look back, to learn where we came from.

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