Hoyt, Jeffries, inducted into Conservation Hall of Fame

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JEFFERSON CITY–Engineer/entrepreneur Earl Hoyt Jr. and career conservationist Paul Jeffries are the two newest inductees into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) inducted Hoyt and Jeffries into the Hall of Fame April 13 at a ceremony at Runge Conservation Nature Center. Friends and family of both men the honorees present for the occasion.

In introductory remarks, Conservation Commission Chairman Don Johnson said Missouri’s conservation movement is founded on citizen leadership with the guidance of conservation professionals. He noted that the Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes both these forms of public service.

“Today, our attention turns to Earl Hoyt, Jr., and Paul Jeffries,” said Johnson, “dedicated sportsmen and conservationists whose lifelong commitment was driven by an intense passion for the resource and their desire to share that with the citizens of our state and country. We honor their memory and achievements at this ceremony. Due in no small part to their dedication and passion for conservation, Missouri is a better place.”

Hoyt was an engineer who turned his skills into a business built around archery and bowhunting. He convinced his father to join him in forming the Hoyt Archery Company in 1942. Innovations that emerged from the partnership can be found in today’s high-tech compound bows. Hoyt’s Pro Medalist bows dominated the scene in four Olympic Games and were adopted by archers from many foreign countries as well. In 1977, he received the National Archery Association’s highest award, the Thompson Medal of Honor.

Hoyt and his wife, Ann, donated funds to the Conservation Federation of Missouri to establish the Earl and Ann Hoyt Scholarship Fund for students entering the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources. Many Hoyt scholarship recipients have gone on to successful careers in conservation. He also was a major contributor and an early inductee into the Archery Hall of Fame.

Jeffries began his MDC career in 1948 as a conservation agent in Ste. Genevieve County. His ability to work with private landowners, public officials and conservation organizations to protect and improve resource management did not go unnoticed and, in 1954, he was promoted to the Field Service Section.

As a Field Service Agent, Jeffries quickly realized that MDC had to win over landowners if it hoped to significantly improve wildlife habitat throughout the state. He brought together government agencies, sportsmen and other groups to promote a landowner wildlife initiative offering various forms of assistance such as seed or planting stock.

Hoyt and Jeffries collaborated on two conservation achievements – establishing Missouri’s first archery deer season in 1946 and founding the Missouri Bow Hunters Association. Both men served as ambassadors to promote archery and bowhunting in Missouri and were mentors to future enthusiasts.

“When I think of people in Missouri who were at the forefront of both archery and bowhunting, not one, but two names come to my mind,” said Conservation Department Director Bob Ziehmer, “and it’s only appropriate that we recognize the achievements of these two gentlemen together. It is difficult to speak of Earl or Paul without including the other. These gentlemen were national and international leaders in bowhunting and archery. These two lifelong friends never slowed in their promotion, defense, education, and devotion of and to archery and bowhunting.”

MDC created the Hall of Fame in 1988 to honor deceased citizen conservationists, former MDC employees and other conservation-related agencies that have made substantial contributions to fish, forest and wildlife conservation in Missouri.

The induction of Hoyt and Jeffries brings the number of Hall of Fame members to 37. Photos and brief biographies of former inductees are on display at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City. The nature center’s namesake, G. Andy Runge, is another Hall of Fame member.

A unique aspect of the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame is the way nominations are received. They are not solicited internally through the Department of Conservation, but rather from citizens of our state. Thus, those being honored are recognized by those they served.

The nominations are carefully screened by a diverse committee and their recommendations are presented to the Conservation Commission for consideration and final approval.

For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/7759/.

-Jim Low-