Conservation's Sixth Director Retires
one of the most fun things I've done since I've been here," Jerry said. "I get lots of letters and calls from people who like my dog. Some have even wanted to breed their dogs with mine! We begin talking, and it's not long before I find out what's on their mind. Dog's have a special place in people's hearts. People trust someone brave enough to share their column with his dog."
Jerry may have come from outside the Conservation Department, but he's a Missourian through and through. He grew up in Cape Girardeau, and he credits the Conservation Department with getting him started on an outdoor career.
"I always loved hunting and fishing," he said, "but I couldn't imagine how to make a living with my love, but then I saw the Conservation slide shows and the programs they were doing, and I realized that I really belonged in this field."
After high school, he found himself seeking outdoor work experience. He took a job with the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho, fighting white pine blister rust and forest fire.
"It was a good experience, even if the blister rust eventually won the war," he recalled. "It paid enough to allow me to go to college, and the best part about it was that I was assigned to a camp to which Janet, my future wife, was also assigned."
Jerry and Janet returned to Cape Girardeau so he could pursue a master's degree in fisheries management. He spent a lot of time at Duck Creek Conservation Area and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge studying fliers, a small sunfish unique to Missouri's Bootheel region.
During his research, Jerry and Janet stayed with Hamlet B. Clark, the manager of the Duck Creek area. It was the first time he'd had the opportunity to work with anyone from the Conservation Department, and he said the experience helped him throughout his career.
"As we talked during the evenings," he recalled, "I got a lot of ideas from Hamm about supervision, salary and support. Hamm said the formula for successful supervision is to always give credit to the people who give you ideas. People trust you then, and they know you're their best opportunity to get pet projects done."
When he graduated, Jerry declined an opportunity to work for the Conservation Departmen, preferring to work at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Not long after-