Monday, September 10, 2012

Fish and Wildlife Agencies Meet in Hilton Head

Rob Keck, John Frampton and Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops

A sampling of DNR's that attended the AFWA meeting

John Frampton, Johnny Morris accepts award from John Gasset

SCDNR hosted this annual meeting
The 2012 Annual Meeting for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) met in Hilton Head, and the meeting was hosted by SCDNR. Those who work full-time to steward the USA's natural resources were present in the Lowcountry, and I spoke to visitors from Alaska, Missourri, Pennsylvania and all points inbetween. The conference began with a plenary session of keynote speakers like Jay McAninch with the Archery Trade Association, Thm Dammrich with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Steve Sanetti with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and John L. Morris, Founder of Bass Pro Shops. It was John Doerr, with Pure Fishing based in Columbia S.C., who said that Wildlife Agencies need to become more 'customer-centric' in the future. Citing cuts to the SCDNR budget the past few years due to a stressed economy, he urged listeners not to forget that hunters and anglers are the 'paying customers' who drive conservation funding, and that when his company remits their excise tax payment to the IRS each year, he views it as an investment in the future. Doerr cited John Frampon as a leader who understands that outdoorsmen are seeking a quality experience when they buy their license, and especially when they get time for an outing. He expressed that these agencies need to key on engaging the customer, even re-organize if need be, to produce a high level of customer satisfaction. His company sells many quality products, but this blogger is most familiar with Penn, since a Penn reel attached to an Ugly Stik rod is what worked well fishing in the waters of the Lowcountry when I grew up - for more info visit Penn Reels. Later in the AFWA conference a special luncheon was held for the Director's of these Agencies and S.C. Director Alvin Taylor was present, along with past Director John Frampton. After lunch the first ever Citizen Conservationist of the Year award was presented to John L. Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, who has been a tireless promoter of outdoor education and conservation. Morris has the luxury of employing Rob Keck to bring a special level of leadership to Bass Pro's efforts to not only contribute funds, but to set goals for the future and to see them through. Morris relayed that he grew up float fishing the Ozarks in Missourri, and he expressed gratefulness to the assembled agency heads that shore up the boundaries/limits that conserve our resources. Other events at AFWA included a meeting of the Bird Conservation Committee, led by N.C. Director Gordon Myers, that saw the top-tier of birding experts speak about a wide variety of subjects including the state of birds in Canada, the Southern Wings program, the National Flyway Council and much more. The sharing of ideas at the AFWA conference is a great way for agency leaders to network and then provide a higher level of service when they return to their home states.

This conference coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Sportfish and Wildlife Restoration Program.


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