Joseph Hosmer, President, Safari Club International Foundation, announced that on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, was honored with the prestigious Beretta and SCI Foundation Conservation Leadership Award for demonstrating extensive international hunting experience and a lifetime of commitment to wildlife conservation and education though volunteer service and philanthropy.
Over the years, Johnny Morris has made giving back to conservation a hallmark of his company since he first began selling fishing tackle in the back of his dad’s liquor store in 1971. Over the course of several decades, Morris has dedicated himself to inspiring people, especially youth and families, to love, enjoy and conserve the great outdoors. He has heavily invested in efforts to conserve our natural resources in a variety of ways. From wildlife and fisheries conservation to introducing young people to the outdoors to cultivating the next generation of natural resource stewards, he is supporting the conservation community at national and local levels.
A conservationist at heart, Morris recognizes the need for citizens to take a strong position in the careful management and use of our natural resources. Using his entrepreneurial success as a platform for that cause, he has made significant contributions of time and resources to many conservation organizations, such as National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Quality Deer Management Association and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Because Morris strongly believes that hunters and target shooters are America’s first and best conservationists, he works hard to share our outdoor heritage and foster a new generation of conservation stewards. He is deeply committed to providing youth development opportunities and community outreach and education.
Morris will build on his legacy this year with the opening of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium – one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world, in Springfield, Missouri. Primarily funded and operated by the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation, Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. The 315,000-square foot experience celebrates the critical role responsible hunting and fishing plays in wildlife conservation and inspires visitors to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.
As recognition of the award, Morris received an elegant trophy designed by Beretta and hand crafted in their Italy factory, and in addition a custom gold and sapphire award pin created by jeweler Madeleine Kay.
Morris was announced as the winner at the Beretta and SCI Foundation Conservation Leadership Award elegant black-tie gala which was attended by over 380 guests, including honored guests Cav. Ugo Gussalli Beretta and his wife Mrs. Monique Gussalli Beretta. The evening consisted of the “Oscar-style” award ceremony, a gourmet dinner, an elite live auction, silent auction, and live entertainment featuring emcee J. Alain Smith, host of the Rugged Expeditions television show, classical guitarist Daniel Vera and Joe Wiegand as Teddy Roosevelt.
Other finalists for the 2016 Award included Ron and Jackie Bartels, Ralph and Deb Cunningham, Robert Model, Byron and Sandra Sadler, and A.C. (Charles) Smid – all of whom were eminently qualified to receive the award. This year’s finalists will automatically be eligible for next year’s award along with any future nominees.
Safari Club International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education. Any contribution may be tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code section 170(c) as a charitable contribution to the extent permitted by law. Tax deductible amount of gift is reduced by the “Fair market Value” of any goods, services, or advantages that a sponsor receives for the donation.
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