The Missouri Conservation Commission named Bob Ziehmer as the new director who will replace John Hoskins when John retires Jan. 15, 2010. Bob is currently one of our assistant directors.
“For as long as I can recall, the outdoors has been an important part of my life,” he noted. “Serving in a position where I can help enhance the quality of forest, fish and wildlife resources and experiences for future generations is very satisfying and stimulating. It keeps my batteries charged.” His wife and two daughters joined him last Friday when Commission Chairman Chip McGeehan announced his appointment. It was fun to see Bob’s children in person, since I’ve seen them so many times before in the photos he has proudly shown of various outdoor adventures he’s had with them.
Bob has worked for the Conservation Department in all sorts of jobs: assistant natural history biologist, aquatic services biologist, policy specialist, government relations specialist, assistant director and more. So he has a broad view of the services we provide and the challenges we face.
In an earlier blog I mentioned the big changes coming up as many of the baby boomers retire. There is a greater urgency as we face long-term budget challenges. We’ll do so in part by reducing personnel costs relative to other expenses. Another 134 positions will be held vacant in addition to the 39 already on hold. (While that will give us a better fiscal balance in the long run, we still may need to look at more expense reductions this fiscal year if sales tax revenues continue to decline.)
More than 150 staff will be retiring in 2010. Some of those positions will be refilled, and others won’t. One of three assistant directors, Dave Erickson, already retired Nov. 1. Five of the 10 division chiefs, including me, will retire by July 1, 2010. So there will be many changes over the next two years. Bob will have a great opportunity to form the next leadership team when he begins in January as the Conservation Department’s eighth director.