Commitment to fishery conservation and hunter education earn MDC staff honors

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – James Civiello’s and Craig Fuller’s long-time dedication to improving the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources, and Dwayne Bowden’s work with hunter education, have earned the three southwest Missouri individuals recognition from the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

The trio were honored at the Conservation Federation’s awards banquet on March 21 at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. Each year, the Federation recognizes conservation volunteers and professionals for their efforts to improve and protect our natural resources.

Civiello received the Federation’s Professional Conservationist of the Year award, Fuller was named the Water Conservationist of the Year and Bowden received the Hunter Education Instructor of the Year award.

Civiello is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s hatchery systems manager and is officed at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery near Branson. He oversees operation of the state’s five cold-water and four warm-water hatcheries. During his 28 years with the Department, Civiello has been heavily involved in the advancement of Missouri’s trout management. He helped develop a seasonal trout production schedule at Shepherd of the Hills and has provided oversight for hatchery renovation projects statewide. He also developed a computer program to track trout production and feed use at cold-water hatcheries, and coordinated with Department research staff to improve the nutritional content of trout feed. In addition to his work with trout and other sportfish, Civiello also pioneered culturing techniques for Ozark and eastern hellbenders -- techniques that have helped in the recovery effort of these state-endangered amphibians at the St. Louis Zoo.

Working with endangered species has also been a key emphasis for Fuller, a Department of Conservation fisheries management biologist at the Department’s Lebanon office. Fuller is the Federal Recovery Team Leader for the Niangua darter, a federally threatened and state-endangered fish. (The only place in the world this small fish is found is in a few tributaries of the Osage River in south-central Missouri.)

Since 2004, Fuller has worked with county governments to coordinate the replacement of 16 low-water crossings in the Niangua darter’s range that were identified aquatic organism passage barriers. The design of these new bridge crossings allows greater movement for Niangua darters and other aquatic organisms in the stream channels. Fuller was instrumental in securing funding from state and federal sources for the construction of these crossings. He also coordinated in-kind contributions from county commissions and road districts. Fuller has provided consultation on several other low-water crossings and his work has been viewed as the “gold standard” example for these types of projects in Missouri and elsewhere in the U.S.

In addition to his work with the Niangua darter, Fuller also works with private landowners on stream and riparian issues and oversees management of sportfish species in the streams in the three-county area he oversees. Fuller also manages Pomme de Terre reservoir and has focused on improving that lake’s muskellunge habitat.

Springfield resident Bowden was deeply involved in the transition of the Department's new hunter education format in the southwest part of Missouri. His skills with computer technology and audio visual equipment are a valuable asset to hunter education teams in Greene and Webster counties. His efforts were integral in Seymour, where he set up the skills session portion of the hunter education curriculum and a lecture area with AV equipment and learning stations so individuals in that area could be certified.

In 2013, Bowden assisted with 17 hunter education programs, an effort that reached 626 Missourians. In doing so, he volunteered 103 hours and logged 561 miles on his personal vehicle.