The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), which represents North America's fish and wildlife agencies, has bestowed its inaugural Johnny Morris Award to its namesake, Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, in recognition of his lifetime of service to the cause of fish and wildlife conservation. AFWA presented the award to Mr. Morris on September 10, 2012 during a luncheon ceremony as part of the Association's annual meeting in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
The new award will be conferred annually to a citizen conservationist who exemplifies Mr. Morris' extraordinary leadership at the highest level and steadfast commitment to solving large-scale natural resource challenges.
"Johnny Morris is the epitome of the enlightened, able and progressive citizen conservationist who sees beyond the limits of one hometown or one state to the national or international scale, and works accordingly and effectively to produce results," said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and former AFWA President who created the award. "The Association dedicates the Johnny Morris award in his honor, not only because of his passion for the outdoors, but specifically because his actions show that he is one of us."
Mr. Morris related that he was absolutely surprised and humbled to receive the inaugural Citizen Conservation award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "There can be no higher honor than having your name as part of an award that will recognize citizen conservation on a national and global scale each year," Johnny stated. "This award is especially meaningful to me as the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is the front line for protecting America's precious fish and wildlife resources and implementing the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. I proudly share this recognition with all of my fellow team members at Bass Pro Shops. They fully recognize the future of our outdoor industry and the sports we love depends, more than anything else, on how we manage our natural resources and conservation," Johnny continued.
John L. Morris developed a love of the outdoors at early age while fishing with his father. He started in the early 1970's with a U-Haul trailer full of the newest bass tackle and eight feet of sales space in his father's liquor store in Springfield, Missouri. Since then, Bass Pro Shops has become what Sporting Goods Business magazine named the #1 Outdoor Retailer in America. More than 100 million shoppers annually visit one of the company's 58 destination outdoor retail stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Through all his success, Mr. Morris has remained an ardent conservationist and is the recipient of numerous honors including the Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist Award, the International Conservation Achievement Award and AFWA's "President's Award" in 1996. He was inducted into the International Game Fish Association's Hall of Fame in 2005 and served three terms as chairman of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Nominations for the Johnny Morris Award for citizen conservationist of the year will be solicited in early 2013. A state director member of AFWA must submit nominations.