Conservation's Sixth Director Retires
at the age of 29-he became state fisheries division chief in Iowa.
"I never anticipated going into administration so early in my career," he said. "It was pretty much a mix of good timing and my willingness to take on new challenges. Nobody else wanted to move to a Midwestern state and work for a difficult supervisor, but I was willing to step into a bad situation and make the changes necessary to improve it."
By the time he was 35, he was director of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He was 38 when he became the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Jerry stayed in the Idaho position for 16 years before coming to the Missouri Conservation Department in late 1996.
Jerry said he was happy to have the opportunity to apply everything he's learned in his career to conservation efforts in a state that has the kind of constitutional and public backing that the Conservation Department enjoys in Missouri.
"It was really different coming from a public land state like Idaho to a private land state like Missouri," Jerry said. "The job there seemed to be consumed with conflict resolution among many users, including cattlemen, irrigators, hunters and loggers, and they all had reasons to dislike the Fish and Game Department. In Missouri, the Conservation Department is a white-hat agency. We've got the kind of public support other states would kill for."
Although he's leaving the Conservation Department after only five and a half years as director, Jerry feels that he's left his mark in Missouri.
"I served a need," he said. "The Department had to have better teamwork and accept changes. I believe I've helped create conditions that will allow the Department to move forward. This Department is the number one conservation agency in the country, and I didn't do anything to hurt that ranking.
"Overall, that's not bad for a Missouri kid who just liked to fish and hunt!"
Jerry and Janet are moving back to Idaho to be near their daughter and their two young grandchildren.
"I've always believed that it takes a family to raise a kid and not a community," he said. "Some of my fondest memories are of fishing small ponds, streams and the lagoon in the city's park. We'd use a small hook, a cut pole and a line, and we'd catch