Hoskins announces retirement

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (MDC) - The Missouri Conservation Commission will conduct a national search to replace Conservation Department Director John Hoskins, who announced his retirement plans Friday.

Hoskins' announcement came at the close of the Missouri Conservation Commission's August meeting in Jefferson City. He said he will continue as director until Jan. 15.

"There are seasons and cycles in nature," said Hoskins in announcing his retirement, "and a season is changing in my life. The cycle of service as Director of the Department is nearing an end. I have enjoyed this work, but I look forward to the next season of my life. Janet (Hoskins' wife) and I intend to move to our Carter County farm, where we can live simply, close to the land, and close to our family."

Hoskins' Conservation Department career began as a conservation agent 32 years ago. He has been the agency's director since July 2002. He is only the seventh director in the agency's 72-year history.

Commission Secretary Don Johnson said Hoskins' leadership will be missed.

"Director Hoskins brought superb administrative skills to this job," said Johnson. "That, combined with a deep commitment to our wild resources and John's faith in citizen-led conservation, has done much to strengthen a program that has always been a national model. We are sorry to see him go, but we wish him a long and happy retirement, enjoying the natural legacy he helped preserve."

Johnson said the Conservation Commission will post a job announcement for the director's position Sept. 1 at www.missouriconservation.org.

Conservation Department achievements during Hoskins' administration have included:

· Increased transparency and accountability, including holding more than 100 public meetings to gather citizen input on topics ranging from deer, waterfowl, quail, trout and catfish, and general Director's forums.

· Established a new strategic plan, The Next Generation, that builds on the many successes of the Design for Conservation Plan.

· Built additional shooting ranges and renovated existing ones.

· Opened new conservation education facilities in Kansas City (Discovery Center), Cape Girardeau (Nature Center), St. Louis (Howard and Joyce Wood Conservation Education Center) and Winona (Twin Pines Education Center).

· Launched an intensive quail-recovery effort, using federal and private partnerships to leverage state funds.

· Increased number of boating and fishing accesses.

· Used state/federal/private partnerships to enhance wetland habitat and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

· Increased efforts to retain and recruit hunters and anglers.

· Participated in partnership efforts with the communities of Joplin and St. Joseph to establish Conservation Education Facilities.

· Acquired key land parcels, such as an addition to the James A. Reed Conservation Area in Jackson County, LaBarque Creek Conservation Area in Jefferson County, and the Stephen C. Bradford Unit of the Black Island Conservation Area in Pemiscot County.

· Enhanced trout stocking and coldwater fishing opportunities.

· Implemented revised best management practices for timber-harvest activities on conservation areas to ensure long-term forest sustainability.

· Award-winning professional staff achieved national and state recognition on a variety of fronts.

Hoskins' career began in 1977 , when he was assigned to Butler County as a conservation agent. In 1980, he received a promotion to Ozark regional staff specialist, in which capacity he was responsible for Conservation Department personnel's training and safety in the Ozark Region. In 1981, he moved up to Ozark Region assistant supervisor, helping establish the agency's first Protection Division regional office and coordinating the pilot "Stash Your Trash" anti-littering campaign on float streams. He took over as Protection Division Supervisor in the 10-county Central Region in 1987.

In 1997, Hoskins moved to Jefferson City, where he assumed duties as Protection Division Section Chief for eastern Missouri. He became section chief in the General Services Division in 1998, then was promoted to Protection Division Chief in 2001. His promotion to director came 17 months later.

"I also look forward with optimism to the next cycle of Department leadership," Hoskins said when he announced his retirement plans. "I believe that the Department's best days are still ahead and that the next Director and leadership team will advance the cause of conservation in ways and deeds I cannot know today.

"It is an honor to serve the people and the fish, forests, and wildlife of Missouri. I regard the Department and the Commission to be the highest of public institutions and models for what public service should be. I feel blessed and privileged to have been a small part of it."