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MDC’s Keith Wollard honored as Wildlife Officer of the Year

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Keith Wollard

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Agent Keith Wollard’s dedication to promoting good conservation goes beyond enforcing Missouri’s wildlife regulations.

Though enforcing the state’s game and fishing laws is the primary focus of the Wright County conservation agent’s job, Wollard’s approach to informing citizens about Missouri’s great fish and wildlife resources is definitely multi-faceted.

Wollard has been with MDC 30 years, all as a conservation agent in Wright County. His wide-ranging dedication to the outdoors has earned him the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) Wildlife Officer of the Year award. He received the honor at the 39th Annual NWTF National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn.

“Agent Wollard is an outstanding example of someone who recognizes the importance of conserving wildlife and habitat and preserving our hunting heritage,” said NWTF CEO George Thornton. “His dedication to upholding game laws and reaching potential hunters is impressive. We commend his service and are proud to honor him with this award.”

One aspect of Wollard’s job that drew praise from NWTF was his enforcement record, particularly as it related to turkey poaching violations. Wollard has made more than 180 arrests of people attempting to take turkeys outside of the dates of Missouri’s spring and fall seasons.

Wollard’s commitment to conservation goes beyond catching game law violators. He helped form and now leads a conservation program that improves habitat for turkey, quail and other game species on private and public land in Wright and surrounding counties. He has been instrumental in involving the Soil and Water Conservation District, NWTF and the National Resource Conservation Service in this effort. Wollard also is a founding member of the Mountain Grove NWTF chapter and is active in youth-mentored hunts, selecting youth scholarship recipients and hosting young hunters at JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) events.

Someone who is very familiar with Wollard’s dedication to his enforcement duties and to conservation is MDC Ozark Regional Protection Division Supervisor Gary Cravens.

“Keith Wollard is a hard-working, dedicated veteran employee that goes that extra step to make sure his job is completed in a professional manner,” said Cravens, who is Wollard’s long-time supervisor.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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