Clean water and healthy ecosystems have never been more important to our health, safety, and future. Healthy wetlands and aquatic systems and sustainable fish and wildlife populations do not happen by accident. Many plants and animals depend on healthy ecosystems and could become threatened if those water habitats were destroyed. We need inspired, educated, and trained conservation stewards to bring innovative expertise and research that will be used to work toward a sustainable planet.
In an exciting partnership, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF), the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and the University of Missouri (MU) established the Johnny Morris Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems within the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU on March 6, 2023 at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area along the Missouri River.
A few months later, Sept. 7, 2023, the UM Board of Curators approved naming the Institute after Bass Pro Shops’ founder and one of America’s leading conservationists, Johnny Morris. The Johnny Morris Institute is creating a national model for private and public partnerships that advance sustainable conservation of fisheries, wetlands, and other aquatic systems.
The Institute has four major components:
- Faculty and staff
- Career pathways and workforce development
- Public policy
This national institute will train and cultivate the next generation of conservation professionals by providing students with coursework and career pathways with real-world field training. It will cultivate national partnerships to collaboratively address water issues. It will conduct key, cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and communicate the knowledge gained. It will develop and support public policy. Ultimately, it will build talent to benefit conservation agencies and organizations nationwide.
Building people within the Johnny Morris Institute
Recently, Chip McGeehan, a past Missouri Conservation Commissioner, and his wife, Teresa, of southwest Missouri made a significant contribution to the Johnny Morris Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems. To build upon one of the four major components of the Johnny Morris Institute and honor the McGeehan’s support and interest in helping the next generation protect crucial natural resources, MCHF, MDC, and MU are pleased to name the career pathways program the Chip and Teresa McGeehan Career Pathways Program.
This program will develop conservation professionals, providing them with real-world field experiences and training to prepare the next generation of conservationists for the workforce. This program will be accomplished in many ways including internships, cooperative learning opportunities, workshops, scholarships, and fellowships.
Through the efforts of the Chip and Teresa McGeehan Career Pathways Program, the Johnny Morris Institute will become a national leader in undergraduate education. Being known for turning out the best-trained and most competent students is our goal. Career pathways program students will be prepared to find solutions to our biggest conservation challenges, engage the public we serve and adapt emerging technologies to conservation problems.
Additionally, the Johnny Morris Institute will have six to eight field internships and an inaugural undergraduate scholarship available for the 2024 school year. The Chip and Teresa McGeehan Career Pathways Program will play a major role in developing our future conservation professionals.
Join these conservation leaders and help leave a lasting impact on our most precious natural resource
The partners are working hard to continue the Johnny Morris Institute’s momentum and growth. One hundred percent of the MCHF Board of Directors have committed their financial support to the Johnny Morris Institute. Additionally, the Coates Family Charitable Fund initiated a dollar-for-dollar matching gift of up to $250,000. MCHF is thankful for all the support received.
To date, more than $12 million has been raised from agency partners and private donors. The goal is to build a $30 million endowment held by MCHF allowing for the hiring of an Institute director, professors, and operational support, in addition to performing research, informing public policy, and establishing scholarships, internships, cooperative programs and fellowships.
Help continue the momentum to ensure future generations have access to world-class fishing, hunting, nature-based recreation, functioning wetlands, clean water, productive agriculture systems, and natural resource-based economies. Please consider donating $25, $50, $100, $250, $500 or more. A gift, small or large, will help develop a legacy that will impact water and conservation for years to come. The future of fisheries, wetlands, and aquatic systems in Missouri, regionally, nationally, and internally is counting on it.
Contact MCHF Executive Director, Tricia Burkhardt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319.610.5215 to learn more.