Friday, April 12, 2024

Seminar discusses natural resources

April 5, 2001
K.L. Cool, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, speaks to students, faculty and guests about “Emerging Issues Confronting Natural Resource Agencies in the 21st Century,” Wednesday in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building. —

Agency executives from around the country made a stop at MSU on Wednesday to discuss the current challenges facing natural resource management in the United States.

Nearly 100 people attended the seminar, “Emerging Issues Confronting Natural Resource Agencies in the 21st Century,” in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building.

Seven panel members came from as far as Florida, Arizona and Massachusetts, where they are executives of federal or state management and conservation agencies. The presenters highlighted the need for agencies to adapt to changes in technology, the environment and populations within their jurisdictions.

Ed Mahoney, who facilitated the panel presentation, said the presenters are renowned for their expertise in managing natural resource agencies.

“I don’t think we’ve had this collection of agency experts ever before at Michigan State University,” said Mahoney, an associate professor in the Department of Park Recreation and Tourism Resources. “It’s really a unique opportunity.”

Tamara Rummel, coordinator of the event, said the seminar presented a good mix of issues related to recreation and natural resource conservation.

“It is educational for the faculty to keep them up-to-date and current,” said Rummel, a specialist in the Department of Park Recreation and Tourism Resources. “And it is a great chance especially for students to really hear what the cutting edge issues are.”

Amber Bunting, a park recreation and tourism resources senior, said she was impressed to see so many leaders come to MSU.

“It’s really helpful to learn from their experiences and knowledge,” she said. “They deal with issues that we will have to deal with in the future.”

The seminar was sponsored by The Natural Resource Coalition, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and University Outreach.

Some of the speakers also noted the need for better management training as the percentage of executives eligible for retirement increases. About 40 percent of employees in some agencies will be eligible to retire within five years.

During a discussion Wednesday morning, the leaders voiced opinions about a national academy for natural resource agency directors that may be formed at MSU

“That was the real reason why we had them here, to kind of test the feasibility of the idea,” Mahoney said. “We were looking for what kind of training managers need and how to deliver it.”

Gary Briere, bureau chief for the Massachusetts Division of Forest and Parks, said he wanted to learn more about the proposal and see how his agency could help.

“We definitely see in our professional associations in the park and recreation business that there’s a real need for unilateral management training across the nation,” he said.

“Generally what happens is that people don’t necessarily have formal training in how to manage an agency as they progress up the ranks.”

Carrie Neale, a park recreation and tourism resources senior, said she would be interested in the program if she wasn’t graduating soon.

“It would be something that would be very helpful to incorporate into our classes,” she said.

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