MDC conservation agent earns national recognition

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A multifaceted dedication to promoting good conservation practices has earned Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Agent Andy Barnes recognition beyond the state.

Barnes, who is the Lawrence County conservation agent, was named the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (SEAFWA) 2018 Colonel Bob Brantley Wildlife Officer of the Year. SEAFWA consists of fish and wildlife management agencies in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This award is annually given to the individual who excels in the following areas; teamwork and public outreach, excellence and innovation, and attitude and leadership. Barnes received the honor earlier in October at SEAFWA’s annual meeting in Mobile, Ala.

Regulation enforcement is the task conservation agents are best known for, but a year in the work-life of Barnes shows there’s much more to his commitment to conservation than pursuing game violators. His knowledge of swift-water rescue techniques and equipment has allowed him to provide invaluable service to MDC and to partner with other law enforcement agencies involved in those tasks. In 2018, he provided a demonstration of those skills at a four-state meeting (Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma) of fish and wildlife agencies.

In between that and regular enforcement duties, Barnes carved out time to be involved with youth hunting, shooting, and fishing events; hunter education programs, youth archery programs at schools, other school programs and do a number of media interviews.

“Agent Barnes’ efforts toward advancing the mission of the Department center on high-quality law enforcement, outstanding public outreach and landowner services, and a strong work ethic focused on teamwork and cooperation,” said MDC Director Sara Pauley. “He is usually one of the first in the region to volunteer for special events or patrols, and his willingness to help others does not go unnoticed.”

SEAFWA President Chuck Sykes echoed the MDC Director’s thoughts.

“Today’s conservation enforcement officers wear many hats,” he said. “They assist other law enforcement officers with everything from search and rescue to manhunts. They are the primary face of our state agencies to the public. They mentor, educate, promote, serve, and protect. Agent Barnes readily meets all these demands.”

Barnes, a native of Mountain Home, Ark. and a graduate of Missouri State University, has been with MDC since he graduated from the Conservation Agents’ Academy in 2006.

In order to be eligible for SEAFWA’s Wildlife Officer of the Year award, Barnes first had to be selected as the Missouri Conservation Agent of the Year. In so doing, Barnes became the first MDC agent to earn this state honor twice, the other time being in 2015.