Like those who have preceded me, my passion and commitment to conservation started at an early age, by fishing on my grandparents’ pond when I was very young and hunting squirrels with my grandpa. Even though mom thought I was too young to carry a gun, I still had a great time scouting and retrieving squirrels. One of my fondest memories is checking trotlines through the night on the river. We sat by the campfire, and Grandpa and I checked the lines every few hours. During the night, I would catch naps with the rest of the family in the back of our station wagon. To a kid, this was a wonderful adventure.
Later in life, friends and college professors nurtured and shaped my interest in hiking, canoeing, bird watching, camping and other outdoor pursuits. All of this culminated in a conservation career, and now, another new adventure as the Department’s wildlife division chief.
I have been part of the Department of Conservation family for 20 years, working with colleagues on many different and exciting projects like peregrine falcon restoration, trading turkeys with other states for critters we needed, and working with many of our staff who manage thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and public use facilities around the state—exciting stuff for the kid from Lebanon, Mo.
I am lucky to be part of a generation with family members who loved the outdoors. There are real opportunities to learn the lessons of life on the riverbank and in the woods, not to mention great fun learning the skills of hunting and fishing. My mom still fishes regularly, taking the grandchildren along and teaching them much the same way that I learned. It’s more difficult with today’s busy lives, but this is how it’s done.
But this story doesn’t begin and end with children. Many adults can learn, too; all they need is a helping hand. Family, friends, birding groups, hunting clubs, fishing clubs, and any other group can play an important role in teaching skills and helping others discover the wonders of nature. After all, our own personal learning is not complete until we teach another what we have learned.
This is just a small part of who I am and what I believe. I have a professional commitment to our natural resources, but I also have a passion for all the things we call fish, forest, and wildlife conservation. As the new wildlife division chief, I will work on your behalf to provide great opportunities for outdoor activities around the state, while striving for superior resource management. We will work together with landowners, other agencies, and organizations committed to conservation to collaborate in ways that ensure the best resource conservation we can muster. And in the end, we promise you access to some of the best land and water in the state, and the opportunity to build memories to last a lifetime. Take the opportunity to teach some of those outdoor skills and life lessons to another, and maybe learn a few new ones yourself.
DeeCee Darrow, wildlife division chief
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler