What is your vision that will help shape the future for Missouri conservation?
I see an exciting and bright future. My vision for the Department is that we shall be a forward-looking agency, ensuring integrity and trust, using adaptive learning and creative thinking, embracing technology and providing superior public service to advance conservation through 1) understanding natural resource and social landscapes, and 2) engaging and involving citizens.
You start your job as director at a time of large staff changes. What does this mean for the agency?
More than half of our top agency leaders, as well as a significant number of staff statewide, will be retiring in 2010. In addition, due to lagging revenues, we’re holding vacant 10 percent of our positions in the near term. This situation represents both challenges and opportunities for the agency.
Many of those about to retire are relatively young— many are in their 50s. Their knowledge of Conservation Department services and people will be an enormous asset as they move on to second careers and involvement in citizen conservation groups.
The staff remaining show the same enthusiasm, focus and accountability that have been hallmarks of this agency for seven decades. We are a group of people who face difficulties not only head-on, but also with an overwhelming abundance of talent and creativity. We are also a group of people who listen to stakeholders and understand their needs, who respect different views and value the contributions made by others, and who genuinely enjoy the work at hand and the people with whom we interact every day. These qualities will keep us strong and ready to adapt and serve.
What do you see as the big areas of agency responsibility in the coming decade?
Missouri’s population, natural resource needs, economic conditions and the needs and desires of its citizens are all changing. The Conservation Department must focus on five overarching areas of responsibility:
- Ensure healthy and sustainable forest, fish and wildlife resources throughout the state.
- Manage lands held in public trust and associated infrastructure to ensure continued benefit to citizens and to forest, fish and wildlife resources.
- Ensure sound financial accountability and transparency in all areas of operation.
- Provide opportunities for active citizen involvement in programs and services and conservation education in both rural and urban areas.
- Engage partners at the individual, community, county, state and federal levels to enhance natural resources and effective delivery of conservation services.
Our state’s conservation success depends on continued citizen support. The