I have been a member of the Friends of the Wichitas (FOW) for over twelve years with nearly 4,000 hours in volunteer service to the Wichita Mountains NWR in southwestern Oklahoma. I am currently serving as president of the FOW, a position I have held for the last eight years. During that time the FOW has more than doubled their membership, increased their annual budget exponentially, and greatly increased their capacity to assist the USFWS staff in their efforts to conserve and protect the WMWR while ensuring that the 2.15 million annual visitors to the refuge have a safe and enjoyable experience.
When I attended the Refuge System’s Friends Academy 4 in 2011, and saw what other very effective Friends groups were doing. I was amazed. It was obvious that the FOW could be doing so much more. In the fall of 2015 the NWRA conducted a Strategic Planning Seminar for the FOW Board of Directors on location in the WMWR. That seminar helped the FOW lay a firm foundation of governance and formalize a plan of action. Later, that year I attended the Moving Friends Forward training sessions at NCTC. All of the information and guidance from those three events provided the impetus needed to help make the FOW what it is today - a ‘very effective Friends group’.
Growing up in Oklahoma my brothers and I spent untold hours hiking, camping, fishing and hunting in the outdoors. Those early experiences coupled with summers in the Rocky Mountains camping with our parents, who were camp hosts for the Forest Service, gave me the appreciation for wildlife and the natural world that I have, today. Later, I attended a ‘Semester in the Rockies’ course at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander, Wyoming. That semester at NOLS was amazing! Aside from all of the leadership training and outdoor skills that I was exposed to, NOLS made me acutely aware that wildlife and the natural environment needed proactive stewards that are willing to advocate for their preservation.
I live in Norman, Oklahoma with my wife Donna. We are both graduates of the University of Oklahoma and have lived in Norman for over twenty-five years. I recently retired from the Food & Beverage industry after forty years of service.