MDC's John Miller honored for career of nature interpretation

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BRANSON, Mo. – When it comes to promoting wise use of Missouri's outdoor resources, John Miller has always known the message matters. Miller, who is the Interpretive Center Manager at the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery near Branson, has received the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) Region Six Lifetime Achievement Award. Miller was recognized March 4 at the NAI Region Six Workshop in Natchitoches, LA.

Miller is a familiar face to visitors of Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery. He has worked at the facility since 1990 and has been with MDC on a full-time or part-time basis since 1981. Public contact has always been important to Miller. One of the core principles of MDC is to help people discover nature, and just like most other forms of communication, Miller knows it's all in the delivery.

"People don't remember facts – they remember stories," he said. "Interpretation provides information in a more profound way by using stories that are meaningful, relevant and appropriate to all audiences."

Miller's interpretive efforts with MDC have gone beyond giving programs in auditoriums and conversing with people across reception desks. He has written articles for a number of publications, including MDC's "Missouri Conservationist" magazine, held several positions with the Association of Missouri Interpreters group, mentored volunteers for MDC and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, helped develop MDC's Volunteer Management policy and has been involved with MDC volunteer training in southwest Missouri.

While working at MDC's August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in the early 1990s, Miller was the initial caretaker of "Peanut" the turtle. This deformed red-eared slider was rescued from a six-pack holder plastic ring in 1993 and now helps promote Missouri's No MOre Trash! campaign.

On top of everything else, Miller still squeezes in time for fishing.

"John has been a strong supporter of not only NAI, but the entire interpretation profession throughout his career," said NAI Executive Director Margo Carlock. "He has served in many leadership roles within our organization and within the Missouri interpretive community. I know of no one more deserving of this accolade from his peers."