Next month, I will retire as director of your Missouri Department of Conservation. There are seasons and cycles in nature, and a season is changing in my life. I have enjoyed this work, but I look forward to the next season. My wife, Janet, and I are moving to our Carter County farm, where we can live simply, close to the land and close to our family.
It has been a remarkable journey from childhood on a small Ozark farm to teacher, conservation agent and director of this excellent state agency. The real credit for my career belongs to my family who supported and endured through years in which my conservation service required a depth of time and commitment. My wife, my sons and my parents shared that commitment and understood what I did and why.
I have tried to be mindful that Missourians have a wide range of desires and expectations. Department leaders have listened to the public in a variety of ways, from dozens of town hall meetings to surveys of hunters and anglers to public comment via the Web, e-mail and the Department ombudsman.
Much has been achieved. We streamlined operations to save money and balance necessary capital improvement projects and important public services. Some credit for this rests in execution of a good strategic plan, but the real credit belongs to many excellent conservationists, both staff and volunteers, who have worked with commitment, passion and energy for a mission in which they genuinely believe.
We completed conservation education facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Joplin and Winona and began new school programs, because Missourians consistently tell us that conservation education is one of their top priorities. We also improved fish hatcheries, shooting ranges, roads, parking lots, stream accesses and other facilities to encourage and enhance hunting, angling and other outdoor experiences on conservation lands. We have improved or created thousands of acres of upland wildlife habitat on conservation areas. We mounted an ambitious program of service to Missouri landowners, and, in so doing, we helped people improve their fish, forest and wildlife habitat, too.
I am pleased with the breadth and depth of progress the Department has made in the past seven and half years, and I look forward with optimism to the next cycle of Department leadership. The next director and leadership team will advance the cause of conservation in ways and deeds I cannot know today.
I regard the Department and the Missouri Conservation Commission to be the highest of public institutions and models for what public service should be. I feel blessed and privileged to have been a small part of it.
Above all, I wish to leave you with a heartfelt expression of thanks for the trust you have placed in Missouri’s special system of conservation governance and in me. Citizen support is the foundation of Missouri’s remarkable conservation story through decades of challenge and progress. Missouri conservation has been and will continue to be what the people want it to be, and I am confident that the best days are yet to come.
John Hoskins, director
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler