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The Old Man Gets His Due

Most of the time, I hate bragging. I hate it when I do it (or am tempted to). I hate it when others do it. But I am about to brag on my old man because he is having a once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend and I am too happy not to share it.

This weekend, at the annual conference of the National Wildlife Society, Dad will receive the Aldo Leopold Award.  Named after the conservation leader and founder of the wildlife management profession, this award is like the Pulitzer Prize for professional contribution to wildlife management.

Dad has devoted his entire life to the practice of and education about conservation, wildlife management, and ethical use of natural resources. Some of my earliest memories include attending 4H conferences and seminars where he would teach young people.  He taught my brother and I (as well as many of our friends) about hunting, fishing, and the joys to be found in the outdoors.  He instilled in us a respect for nature and a belief that one of the many ways that God reveals Himself to humanity is in the world He created.  We were raised with the belief that every generation is a tenant generation, with the obligation to responsibly care for and then pass on the abundant natural resources of the world to the next generation.

He spent 20 years in Washington D.C. as the national program leader for wildlife and fisheries in the United States Department of Agriculture.  He was the first person to ever hold this position. While in this position he consulted with every land-grant university in the U.S. to help them keep their programs on the cutting edge. He fought blood-draining battles with politicians and bureaucrats to protect regulations for ethical land use. He helped to initiate a program to recruit more minorities into the profession. By the time he retired, more than one of his colleagues referred to him as a legend in the field.

After retiring from the USDA, Dad took a position at Mississippi State University as a research professor in the department of wildlife and fisheries.  He influenced the next generation of foresters and wildlife biologists while continuing the fight for responsible wildlife management by advocating for fair-chase hunting and other ethical practices. He also helped to found and is still a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Conservationists. He retired from MSU in 2005 and is still in demand as a writer, speaker, and consultant. He has not lost his passion for educating people about his vocation and avocation.

I have always been proud to be one of his sons for a number of reasons. But this weekend I am proud that my old man is getting his due. I am proud of the number of people who have pushed for him to get this award. I am proud that he was too humble to “buck” for it. And I am proud of the example that he has provided to me. If I am lucky I will leave half the mark in my field that he has left in his.

Congratulations, Dad. You earned it.

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8 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    Thanks Mike, it is cool to see Dad getting his due. I couldn’t have said it any better.

  2. That was a wonderful tribute to your dad, Mike, and a tribute to your love and respect for him. As a parent of four grown sons, I know that there is no way to measure the value of the respect of your children. As the daughter of my own dad, who passed away last year, there is no way to measure the value of showing respect to our fathers while they are still on earth and able to enjoy our respect. I think God wants us to honor our parents, because honoring them allows us to honor our Heavenly Father. Sometimes it is hard for our dads to communicate what is meaningful to them, so in my search for a way to make my dad know that I honored him, I looked at what he talked about when he talked about himself to me. It was always his experience in the Korean war, before he was shot in combat, long before I was born. When I was younger, I resented the “war stories”, because that was most of what my dad talked about with me. But, after I got married and figured out more about how men think, I realized my dad talked to me about the war, because he was the proudest of himself when he was a Marine. He talked to me about it so much, because he wanted me to be proud of him, too. I spent the last few years of his life asking my dad to talk about his war stories. And I told him “thank you”. I’m so thankful that I did. I’m proud of you for what you wrote about your dad. I hope you emailed it to him.

  3. rollerpimp says:

    THat is beyond cool. Your Dad deserves it. It is pretty amazing to see what he has done in his career.

    Oh yeah, I like this template better also.

  4. Trey Morgan says:

    Too cool. That’s not bragging, that’s being proud. Congradulations

  5. Elizabeth says:

    How awesome. I don’t know you or your dad, but it is a joy to read this. Oh and you’re not bragging – your proud of him and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  6. Congratulations Jim and Doris. We are so proud of you. My Dad was a farmer, hunter and fisherman…although he bought most of the fish. Thats probably why he never told many fish stories. Thanks for all your hard work in preserving our natural resources and education certainly plays a large role. Keep up the good work.

  7. odgie says:

    Kelly: It is pretty cool, isn’t it?
    Jerri: Thank you for your kind words.
    RP: Thanks for the feedback, I am enjoying your blog as well.
    Trey and Elizabeth: Thanks…and Elizabeth, how did you find me?
    Mr. & Mrs. Gaessler: Hi strangers! Hope you are well. Please give John my best.

  8. […] and relatives. Both long-time readers may remember that my folks live in Starkville, MS where Dad is a professor emeritus as Mississippi State University. Christine had never seen their place and I […]

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