National Geographic’s current issue is about that fragile connection between all things
We all need nature to help us
Celebrate by locating an NHF Day event near where you live, there are many.
By Rick Clunn
Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day, and I know that there is some special day to celebrate almost every day, but Hunting and Fishing are the last remaining vehicles to keep the masses connected to nature and like my Dad use to say, “Daphine (my Mom), if I don’t get in the woods or on the water this weekend, I am going to go crazy.”
What was a prophetic statement for him, it is equally true for society.
National Geographic’s current issue is about that fragile connection between all things. It stated that, “If you dig deep enough behind virtually every human conflict, you will find an erosion of the bond between humans and the natural world around them.” What I am most proud of with my relationship with Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops is their endless work trying to maintain a healthy connection between humans and the outdoors through their Conservation efforts.
So join me and Bass Pro shops in celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day this Saturday, the 28th of September. But take it one more step! Take a friend, family member, someone on an adventure, go fishing or hunting. I have stated before, that I am hard-pressed to remember a single gift I received, but can easily recall many fishing, hunting, and camping adventures. The photos are of my Dad and Mom sharing the outdoors with me.
Quote from Edward Abbey: “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends. Ramble out yonder and explore the forest, climb the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely mysterious and awesome space.”
A School that Changes the Lives of Kids from 5th grade on
Wolf School Program creates Conservationists
Inspiration, Passion, Empowerment is Learned Here
By Larry Whiteley
The amount of time kids spend outdoors in nature is at an all-time low. Time in front of a television, playing video games and time on smart phones is at an all-time high. A recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that, on average, children now spend only 12.6 minutes a day on outdoor activities compared with 10.4 waking hours being relatively motionless. The result is a childhood obesity rate that has soared due to a combined decline in creativity, concentration and social interaction skills in our kids.
Because of this we are also at risk of losing an entire generation’s appreciation for how nature works and how we need to take care of it for future generations. As Richard Louv said in his book Last Child in the Woods, “The child in nature is an endangered species and the health of children, and the health of the earth, are inseparable.”
10 years ago in Springfield, MO a group of people got together to try to change those statistics for the kids in their school system. The Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility (WOLF) School was formed in partnership with the Springfield Public School System with support from the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Bass Pro Shops.
WOLF School is like any other public school, but kids choose to attend this one. Well over four hundred 4th grade students who have satisfactory attendance and behavior records apply each year, but only 46 students are chosen by a random drawing to attend as 5th graders. There is wish and hope competition. The school system provides transportation along with teachers Courtney Reece and Lauren Baer, who are passionate about the outdoors and conservation.
This outdoor learning school is operated by the school system, but the classroom is not in a normal school building. It is located in the John A. & Genny Morris Conservation Center in outdoor-themed classrooms that provide state-of-the-art facilities to help further learning with technology and an outdoor learning lab. It was all built for the school by noted conservationist, Johnny Morris.
Next door to the school is the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. Kids also use it as a learning facility and sometimes you can find them telling visitors all about the fish and wildlife on display. The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store is next door also and furnishes gear, know-how and support. Johnny Morris would probably tell you WOLF School and all the children it has touched is one of the best investments he has ever made.
Studies have shown that outdoor time boosts classroom performance and they grow up to be better stewards of the environment. The school inspires and educates the next generation of conservation leaders with a complete curriculum in the classroom. Every week, at least once or twice a week, students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and head out into the great outdoors to learn through hands-on exploration and field experiences.
They learn about the conservation of Missouri’s water, forests, caves, prairies, wetlands and glades. The kids get to experience hiking, fishing, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking, stream surveying, river and stream ecology, woodworking, owl pellet dissection, hunting, shooting, game-calling, birding, caving, animal-handling, map and compass, orienteering and a whole lot more.
Misty Mitchell has been there from the beginning of WOLF School and serves as the staff liaison between Springfield Public Schools, Bass Pro Shops and Wonders of Wildlife. Misty says, “One of my favorite things about WOLF is how it absorbs the entire family. The students are taking and teaching their parents about the natural resources that WOLF visits during the school day. Parents are usually overwhelmed in the beginning as their student’s passion for learning increases by leaps and bounds.”
Teacher Courtney Reece echoed Misty’s words when she said, “My favorite thing about the program is that it doesn’t just affect students. It brings families together. Parents are overjoyed that their kids initiate family time because of the program.”
The school also has helped with teaching the kids from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Southwest Region Outdoor and Education Supervisor Warren Rose says, “We are pleased to offer teacher training, conservation education curriculums and outdoor skills activities for WOLF, but we also want other Missouri schools to know that we can provide the same thing to their school even if they don’t have a special classroom.”
Volunteers like Bob and Barb Kipfer are also an integral part of the school. The Kipfer’s not only come to the classroom to help teach the kids, they also open their land along Bull Creek in Christian County to be used as an outdoor classroom several times a year. I asked Bob his thoughts on these school programs and he said, “In a perfect world, all students would have as least some of the experiences that the WOLF program offers. We have the resources including volunteers, but needs change in our nation’s education system to expand the student’s horizons. It is, after all, the world that they will be inheriting.” I think the majority of teachers and parents would agree with Bob’s words.
The success of WOLF School has been credited with helping start a new off campus school for 5th graders called the Academy of Exploration at the Discovery Center of Springfield with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focus. In addition, the school system has started the Health Science Academy at Mercy Hospital in Springfield for 8th graders interested in being a part of the health industry.
Over the last decade, over 400 students have graduated from WOLF school. Like Bob Kipfer, I am sure all those involved wish all kids, not just those in Springfield, could have the opportunity to attend schools like WOLF. If that ever happened it could change the lives of a lot of kids and it could also change the broken world we live in.
Maybe if more parents, grandparents, educators and politicians heard the story of Diana Summit we would see those changes happen. Diana always had a passion for science and was lucky enough to have caring teachers who invested their time to fuel that passion. It was through them that she heard about the WOLF School program.
She talked her family into letting her apply and she was accepted. Coming from an underprivileged home with no car and no money she had to catch a city bus, then walk in all kinds of weather to make it to school. Remember this is a 10-year old 5th grader. “WOLF was feeding something inside me that was so powerful that I had to be there. I had always loved school, but WOLF School was special and I was going to be there whatever the price,” said Diana.
Diana graduated from WOLF School with the 2008-2009 class and is now the first person in her family to graduate high school. She is currently enrolled at Missouri State University studying to be a veterinarian. Diana says, “When I look back at this time in my life I can clearly see how WOLF and Wonders of Wildlife really changed my life.”
How many more lives could be changed because of school programs like WOLF? How many families would grow closer together and stronger? How many kids would grow up to be our future conservationists? How many of these kids as adults would work to change our world for the better?
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
Morris is only 58th conservationist to receive the Audubon Medal in its 114-year history
The National Audubon Society presented one of the most prestigious awards in conservation, the Audubon Medal, to Bass Pro Shops founder and legendary conservationist Johnny Morris and his family in a gala event February 7 at The Plaza Hotel in New York.
Morris has spent his life tirelessly working to preserve wildlife and wild places so that future generations can be as energized and excited by nature as he has been. Morris has long pointed to his earliest days of being out with his family on the streams of the Missouri Ozarks as the inspiration for his extraordinary success with Bass Pro Shops.
Given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of conservation and environmental protection, The Audubon Medal was first given out in 1947 to Hugh Hammond Bennett, a pioneer in understanding soil erosion. Morris is the 58th recipient of the medal, joining conservation icons such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, President Jimmy Carter, Academy Award-winning director and actor Robert Redford, beloved British natural historian Sir David Attenborough, CNN founder Ted Turner, author Rachel Carson and lauded biologist Edward O. Wilson.
“To be awarded the Audubon medal is one of the proudest and most humbling experiences of my life. To be included among the other 58 conservationists to receive this high honor alongside such visionary leaders as Walt Disney, J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling, President Jimmy Carter and others, is a great honor. I’m very proud to share this with my family, and our extended family – the many passionate, conservation-minded people in our company and the sportsmen and women we are blessed to serve,” said noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. \
“What many people don’t realize is that John James Audubon and President Theodore Roosevelt were not only heroes in conservation, they were also sportsmen and hunters. Over many hours spent in the field hunting, they gained a better appreciation for our nation’s fish and wildlife and the habitats required to sustain them,” added Morris. “I hope they are both looking down smiling and happy that we are all here as one united, inclusive family working with passion to carry on the important mission they outlined for us many years ago – to be good stewards of God’s creation and to protect the wild places so that future generations, our kids and grandkids, can have the same opportunities we have to experience the wonders of the natural world.”
Morris’ passion for 40 years has been to help children feel the same awe and wonder of the outdoors that he has felt. Morris has worked with every Republican and Democratic administration since 1978 – when Audubon Medal recipient Jimmy Carter was in office – to advance significant conservation causes. He has often been called a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt.
In 2017 – with Teddy Roosevelt’s Great, Great Grandson Simon Roosevelt in attendance – Morris opened the 350,000 square foot Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (WOW) in his hometown of Springfield, Mo. It is the largest conservation attraction in the world. In 2018, WOW worked closely with Audubon to unveil “The Year of the Bird,” an extraordinary exhibit that celebrates the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The National Audubon Society is dedicated to protecting birds and the places they need for more than 60 million birders across the United States.
“Audubon has been a force for good in conservation for more than a century,” Morris said. “They began by working with a personal hero of mine, Teddy Roosevelt, to establish the first National Wildlife Refuge. Today, we share a vision to inspire future generations of conservationists to carry on America’s heritage of protecting our natural resources.” National conservation leaders commemorate the occasion
Hundreds of leading conservationists from across the country gathered in New York to honor Morris and his contributions, which follow in the footsteps of the nation’s greatest conservationists.
“The award is important for conservationists across the political spectrum, as both a reminder and a contemporary acknowledgement of the essential role of hunters and anglers in conservation,” said Great, Great Grandson Simon Roosevelt. “First and foremost, however, the Medal is a rightful recognition of the broad scope of Johnny’s dedication to conservation and his ever-forward-looking leadership.”
Morris was introduced by Colin O’Mara, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, America’s oldest and largest conservation organization with six million members, who discussed the Bass Pro founder’s impact on the next generation.
“Johnny has instilled a love of wildlife in millions upon millions of children across America,” said O’Mara, who has partnered with Morris to advance national legislation to protect fish and wildlife and develop education programs at Wonders of Wildlife. “He’s advancing conservation in every part of the country. And he’s leaving a legacy that will inspire young conservationists for centuries.”
Morris accepted the award together with his wife Jeanie and children John Paul, Megan, Julie and Jennifer.
Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.
Johnny Morris, the Walt Disney of the Outdoors, Opened WOW in 2017
Museum offers more than 1.5 miles in Authentic, Immersive Habitats
Celebrating People who Hunt, Fish and Act as Stewards of the Land and Water
Walk to the depths of the Ocean here!
By David Gray
Thinking about taking the kids to Disneyworld?
It’s expensive, but you know the kids enjoy it. Did you know there is a less costly alternative the kids will enjoy and the adults will too?! It is WOW, the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium.
WOW recently opened in Springfield, Missouri, immediately adjacent to Bass Pro Shops. A creation of Johnny Morris, the Aquarium and Museum is one of those places to visit that cannot be properly described by the written word.
WOW is not a place you visit, it is a place you experience. Visit once, you immediately realize it is a concept intended for our kids and adults of this century. It appeals to your eyes, ears, and vision to share in the wonder of nature, animals, fish, birds and our human civilization into the future. You will want to return.
Kids of all ages love it. The Aquarium was recently voted the best in the USA, it is spectacular. It is not just one aquarium, there are many aquariums displaying fresh and salt water fish in their natural settings.
You and the kids will find yourselves looking at the aquarium, under the aquarium, over the aquarium and even walk inside an aquarium with live fish all around you. It is an all-day activity. On my recent visit, I never saw one youngster that lost interest. It is a certainly a big “wow” for the kids.
Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to Johnny Morris’s mother and father who always found the time to take him fishing.
A great family vacation is waiting. Visit Wonders of Wildlife one day in the near future. Visit Bass Pro Shops the next day.
Head down to Branson, Missouri, just a short drive south of Springfield, for family fun at Silver Dollar City and take in many other family attractions.
The best may be a day of fishing on Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo.
A plaque in the Aquarium says “Take a kid fishing, you’ll be glad you did.” Your kids will be glad you found the time to take them fishing.
Springfield, Missouri, is in middle of the Ozarks region, which sits in middle of the continental United States. It is easy travel from any part of the country. Commercial flights are available to Springfield and Branson airports. Driving on I-44 from St. Louis, it is less than 3 hours to a great WOW family experience.
Wonders of Wildlife provides Tribute to Fish and Wildlife
Wonders of Wildlife NATIONAL MUSEUM & AQUARIUM is Extraordinary
Founder, Johnny Morris, Has Provided a Trail to Lifelong Conservation in the Outdoors through Fishing, Bass Pro Shops and now, WONDERS OF WILDLIFE
Rick Clunn will Attend
By Forrest Fisher
One of the most respected professional bass anglers in the world is Rick Clunn. I was humbled to fish with Rick on three different fishing tournament occasions in the mid-90s. Having done that, It was easy to understand why this southern gentleman was such a successful angler.
In one word, Rick Clunn has “FOCUS” when he is fishing. He “TUNES-IN” to every spot, every situation, every cast. His success as a 5-time BASS Champion demonstrates his “UNDERSTANDING” for fishing. Above all his fishing success, Rick Clunn is humble, soft-spoken and a true conservationist. Today Rick will be in Springfield, Missouri, and he has this to share with everyone through his Facebook account:
“Melissa and I will be privileged to attend the Grand Opening of the Wonders of Wildlife. I am sure, like everything Johnny Morris has created, it will defy even the most complimentary descriptions possible. I made the statement after winning the B.A.S.S. St. John’s River Tournament, “Never accept that all your greatest moments are in the past.” This man has lived that philosophy his whole life and continues to. Most will see and be inspired by the Wonders of Wildlife, but I fear there are some who will see it as only a capitalistic venture or a monument to an individual’s ego.
For those of you who might feel that way, I offer my observations and understanding. I present this view because I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people ask, “Why does he build these museum style stores to sell fishing tackle? Why not be like others in the industry and just put up a metal building and have a lot less overhead?”
I will tell you, to me these are monuments, but not to Johnny Morris! These are monuments to all outdoors people and to the Natural World that he continuously and tirelessly fights for. At Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake, there is a Convention Center whose walls are lined with some of the greatest conservation mind’s, thoughts and quotes. If you think the many Bass Pro Outdoor Worlds are only about selling fishing and hunting tackle I offer the following: “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” Zane Grey.”
I grew up an Angler when being an Angler was observed as nothing more than playing hooky from school or work. It did not share the status of football, basketball, golf, or other sports. One of my supervisors at Exxon Oil would talk with you about golf all day, but don’t dare waste company time talking about fishing. Even after I quit my socially excepted profession, working for the 2nd largest computing center in the world, and started my angling career most thought I had a bad case of sun stroke. I confess, I will never forget the first time I was proud to be an Angler. I had gone to Springfield, Missouri, to represent one of my sponsors at the grand-daddy of all fishing stores, at their Spring Fishing Classic. I had been in a lot of tackle fishing shops, but nothing could have prepared me for this. When I walked in the front door of the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World, I was moved. It was beautiful and I had never seen anything like it. But more than its beauty, I felt a sense of pride in who I was that I had not felt before. To this day I challenge every outdoor person to tell me that they did not feel a little of the same, their first time there. I now know that Johnny saw the Outdoors – and those who enjoy it, as important elements in the conservation of the fast disappearance of our natural world.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Henry David Thoreau.
I recognize now, like Johnny did from the beginning, that to conserve the natural world we have to expose as many people to its Wonders as possible. He knew that fishing is one of the last remaining vehicles for the masses to experience the natural world and understand its importance to the sanity of man’s world. Johnny’s Conservation efforts are never ending. So when you tour the Wonders of Wildlife, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”
Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium OPENS Sep, 21, 2017
Will be Largest, most interactive, dynamic Fish and Wildlife “Experience” in the World.
Located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.
Will also be the New Home for BASS FISHING HALL OF FAME
By Forrest Fisher
The hair on my arm shot up as if I had just walked into a static field of electricity. My heart rate quickened. The face of the bear was powerful and profound. The moment was unforgettable. It was extraordinary. It was sacred and it was full of Polar Bear ambition. It was striking.
The largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world offers a video that did that to me! Visit: https://youtu.be/QnG5tf_Pp3I.
The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium will celebrate its grand opening on Sep. 21, 2017. Located in Springfield, Missouri, the 320,000 square foot structure will feature exhibits that manage to create new moments of introduction to conservation, with a focus on providing education and knowledge of wildlife, fish and sea creatures for all that visit.
Wonders of Wildlife will feature a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure and will showcase 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, as well as more than 70,000 square feet of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas. Plus, more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits.
Wonders of Wildlife will also offer another giant reason to visit. Officials from the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and noted conservationist, Johnny Morris, recently announced that Wonders of Wildlife will also provide a new, permanent home for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will honor bass fishing legends and was developed in partnership with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), the exhibit includes a fascinating collection of artifacts and memorabilia, including authentic rods and reels, antique lures and historical photos. More than 60 Hall of Fame members will be featured including Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Johnny Morris, Ray Scott, President George H.W. Bush and many others. Several artifacts date back to the early days of B.A.S.S. tournaments in the 1960s, including the scale used to weigh record catches and the first BASSMASTER Classic victory trophy.
“To be part of a transformational project like Wonders of Wildlife and share the story of bass fishing with generations of future visitors is a dream come true,” said Donald Howell, president of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame board of directors. “There is no better location to honor the individuals that have played a crucial role in bass fishing. Visitors will be blown away by all that Wonders of Wildlife encompasses, and we’re grateful to Johnny Morris for his partnership and bringing this vision to life in such compelling fashion.”
The site will offer extraordinary experience for visitors with a collection of exhibits and galleries that showcase national conservation organizations within a single “must-see” destination experience, sharing the story of hunters and anglers conserving wildlife and the outdoors.
Other partner galleries include The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame, the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum, the National Archery Hall of Fame and many others.
“Our mission is to establish a world-class destination that celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, a conservationist and the visionary behind the Wonders of Wildlife. “There are so many notable hunters and anglers that have played an important role in the conservation of our precious natural resources and habitats. We are honored to welcome the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame to help further enrich that story for our visitors.”
Founded in 2000, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers and members of the media who further the sport of bass fishing. Honorees include notable contributors to the sport who elevate it to the professional level and lesser-known supporters that have and continue to sustain bass fishing, both honoring the past and looking to the future.
While previous plans called for a stand-alone location in Alabama, organizers recognized the opportunity to reach a far larger audience by partnering with Wonders of Wildlife.
For more information, visit www.wondersofwildlife.org. For information about the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, visit www.bassfishinghof.com.
Saturday, September 24, 2016 Kids and Adults Invited to Discover the Fun of the Outdoors Johnny Morris named 2016 Honorary Chair
National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. From shopping center exhibits to statewide expos, millions of citizens have learned to appreciate America’s sportsman-based system of conservation funding. That system now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places.
In locations all around the country, kids and adults alike, can share in a few of the fun and challenging hands-on activities that include fishing, outdoor gear, archery, firearm safety and much more. Sportsman and conservation groups will feature exhibits with displays of hunting and fishing equipment with demonstrations of outdoor skills.
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) has named leading national conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris, to serve as the honorary chair for NHF Day 2016. A lifelong sportsman with a passion for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, Morris is one of the country’s foremost leaders working to ensure natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy for future generations to protect and enjoy.
“America’s sportsmen and women are among our nation’s most active conservationists and it’s important we recognize and celebrate everything they do to protect outdoor habitat and ensure thriving populations of wildlife,” said Morris. “I’m proud to lend my support and raise awareness for hunters and anglers, America’s conservation heroes through National Hunting and Fishing Day.”
The NHF Day event is just one more of the ways Morris is honoring the unsung heroes of conservation. Later this year, Morris will unveil the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, a 315,000-square foot conservation destination envisioned as a tribute to America’s hunters and anglers. Through immersive habitats and interactive displays the experience will inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.
“NHF Day is continually looking for folks that have a true passion for the outdoors and is very involved with conservation,” said Misty Mitchell, national coordinator, National Hunting and Fishing Day. “Johnny Morris is leading the charge in all facets of conservation. We couldn’t be happier to have him serve as our National Chair.”
This annual event takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, with activities taking place across the country.
Morris joins a distinguished group that has included Jim Shockey, Eva Shockey, Craig Morgan, Bill Dance, T. Boone Pickens, Louise Mandrell, Hank Williams Jr., Jeff Foxworthy, Wade Boggs, Arnold Palmer, the USA Olympic Shooting Team, Tony Stewart and others.
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.
Our thanks to Howard Communications for the content and details of this story.