JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) presented the Master Conservationist award to former MDC Wildlife Research Chief Bill Crawford on July 15 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center.
Crawford has spent more than 70 years working for the conservation of Missouri’s forests, fish and wildlife. A Moberly native, he has been involved with MDC since its beginning. In 1935 he and his father attended the citizens’ meeting that formed the framework for the non-political agency and Conservation Commission that still exist.
Crawford began working for MDC as an aquatic biologist in 1941 when the Department was in its fourth year of existence.
“Everything was new,” Crawford said. “It was an opportunistic time when we could find problems and really start to work on them.”
Crawford travelled throughout the state sharing information about conservation and the Department’s efforts. His work evolved into mentoring and assisting other biologists on a variety of studies.
In 1949, due to his diverse experience and expertise, MDC appointed him as the first chief of wildlife research, a position in which he provided leadership for 34 years.
Crawford also cofounded the Missouri Prairie Foundation with longtime friend Don Christisen in 1966 to help protect Missouri’s native grassland habitat and wildlife.
“Every part of Missouri conservation has been touched by Bill Crawford,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “Mr. Crawford wisely, strategically and productively invested an entire lifetime creating, building and guiding Missouri’s Conservation agency.”
Director Ziehmer presented the award along with Commissioner Emeritus William “Chip” McGeehan, who voted while serving on the Commission to honor Crawford.
The Master Conservationist award is the highest honor given by the Conservation Commission. The Commission established the award in 1941 to honor individuals who have made substantial and lasting contributions to Missouri’s fisheries, forestry or wildlife conservation.