JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (MDC) - "I remember spending every summer as a kid with my grandparents on the Current River catching grasshoppers and whatever else we could get our hands on, and fishing for goggle-eye or whatever we could catch," recalls the Missouri Conservation Commission's newly appointed commissioner Don Bedell. "I've always had a love for the outdoors. I've duck hunted all of my life, since I was big enough to carry a shotgun. And now I'll be able to help the people of Missouri make sure the outdoors we love will be here for our kids and grandkids and their grandkids."
Gov. Jay Nixon announced the appointment of the 68-year-old Sikeston businessman and longtime conservationist on July 30 for a term that expires July 1, 2015. Bedell will fill the role of Commissioner Lowell Mohler whose term expired July 1.
"Don Bedell has been a leader in Missouri's conservation community for decades, and his experience as an avid conservationist and sportsman will be a valuable asset to the Commission in its role of managing the state's forestry and wildlife resources," Gov. Nixon said.
Conservation Department Director John Hoskins praised Bedell for his past service to conservation and for his new commitment to guiding the state's conservation programs. "Don Bedell's enthusiasm for conservation and his life experience in both business and outdoor pursuits will help him quickly contribute to the Commission's important work."
Bedell brings a depth and breadth of experience to the Commission. In addition to being an accomplished businessman who has founded more than 100 companies and has sat on numerous boards of directors, he is an avid conservationist and enthusiastic sportsman. He is a Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited, a Life Member of Quail Unlimited, Inc., a Sustaining Member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, a Diamond Sponsor of the National Wild Turkey Federation and a Life Member of Safari Club International.
While Bedell has fished and hunted around the world-from Mexico to Canada and in Africa-his roots are firmly planted in the Missouri Ozarks. His parents were born and raised in and around Carter County. They moved to the state of Louisiana where Bedell was born, raised and went to college.
He returned to Carter County in 1966 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, a Master of Science in Animal Nutrition with a double minor in biochemistry and wildlife from Louisiana State University, and working toward a doctorate in Philosophy from LSU.
Bedell has lived, fished and owned property along the Current River in Carter County for most of his life. His family also owns farmland in Stoddard County near the Duck Creek Conservation Area. As a Missouri landowner, he has a deep appreciation of the value of managing land for wildlife. "We've been able to get some of our land along Duck Creek declared ‘wetlands' by the federal government. We also plant a lot of food plots on our farmland and leave edge rows for wildlife habitat," he explains.
He adds, "For the first time in a long time, I'm seeing good numbers of quail again in Missouri. They are coming back and the Department needs to be applauded in that effort."
Bedell recalls one of his first experiences with the Department of Conservation.
"When I returned to Missouri after graduate school, I went to work for my wife's family at Carter County Telephone Company. Back in the 1960s, we maintained the telephone lines at Peck Ranch and I got to watch the Department trap wild turkeys to restock all around the state. Back then, wild turkeys were pretty much gone in Missouri and the Department was bringing them back. It really interested me and made me appreciate even more the work of the Department. It also made me think what I, and all of us, can do to help make sure future generations will still be able to enjoy the hunting and fishing and other outdoor opportunities we have had."
He says that he is eager to serve the people of Missouri as a commissioner.
"From overwhelmingly supporting the constitutional amendment that created the agency back in 1936 to passing the sales-tax funding in 1976, it speaks well of the people of Missouri that they are leaders in the efforts to provide the funding and resources necessary for the Department to do the work it needs to do."
He adds, "Through my experiences of being on boards and working with a great variety of people, I believe I can reach out to people for their ideas, take an in-depth look into things and provide a different perspective."
Bedell will serve at his first Commission meeting on Aug. 13 and 14 at the Department headquarters in Jefferson City. Bedell's appointment to the Conservation Commission is subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate.
Current commissioners are William "Chip" McGeehan of Marshfield, Don Johnson of St. Louis and Becky Plattner of Grand Pass.
Missouri voters established the Conservation Commission with Constitutional Amendment 4 through the initiative petition process in 1936. Under that amendment, the governor appoints commissioners to six-year terms. No more than two commissioners may be from the same political party. The commission carries out duties associated with the control, management, restoration, conservation and regulation of the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state.