Chairman of the Board of Directors
Mark Sak has been a big part of the Michigan Outdoor Industry for over 20 years. He began his career as an outdoor writer and tournament angler on the Michigan Walleye Tour in 1994, and covered the tour in Michigan’s Premier Outdoor Publication, Woods-N-Water News. Mark gained a great deal of his fishing IQ while qualifying for 6 MWT championships. In 1999 Mark made the jump to the nationally televised In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail. During his 6 years on the PWT, Mark qualified for 2 National Championships. He received two Coleman Cool Under Pressure awards and three Navionics Spot on the Spot awards. Mark was on the national Promotional staff of Yamaha Outboards, Rapala, Off Shore Tackle and Jiffy Ice Augers. Mark’s articles were read in magazines like The Walleye Insider, In-Fisherman, Pheasants Forever Magazine, Michigan Outdoor News, Woods-N-Water News and Great Lakes Angler Magazine. He is also an accomplished photographer and has had hundreds of photographs published in print and online.
In 2003, Mark joined the Pro staff of Mike Avery’s Outdoor Magazine Television and Radio, and stayed with this experienced and outdoor video producer for 5 years. A trip to Kodiak Island Alaska highlighted those five years and allowed Mark to be directly involved in video production. In 2006 Mark left the Outdoor Magazine to produce his own syndicated radio show on the Michigan Talk Radio Network.
Mark has also been diligent in giving back to the outdoors. He was a President of Lapeer County Pheasants Forever from 1999 to 2012. He remains with the chapter today. The Lapeer County Chapter has received two Michigan State Council of Pheasants Forever Youth Mentor awards for the chapter’s work with youth hunting. Mark has been an active part of Pheasants Forever Habitat program and in 2009 was nominated for Field and Stream Magazines “Hero of Conservation Award” for assisting in developing a seed program to assist the State of Michigan’s CREP program through USDA and the Soil Conservation Service. This program assisted in keeping hundreds of thousands of pounds of sediment from eroding into Saginaw Bay through buffer strips while creating hundreds of acres of habitat for Upland Game birds.
Mark also continues to work diligently with youth fishing events and has been involved with the Lake St Clair Walleye Association’s Youth Ice fishing event as well as several other youth events around Michigan. Along with the help from Jiffy Ice Augers, Mark provides Jiffy products for children attending these events.
Currently, Mark continues to write and is now moving into the video world after leaving the Pro Walleye Tour in 2007. He is providing a new form of media that is keeping up with the astounding changes in the Outdoor media world. Mark’s video journals are now being seen monthly on www.woods-n-waternews.com. Mark is one of the few writers in the country that is producing the written word with accompanying video. He has received both OWAA national writing awards and MOWA writing awards. He also has recently assisted with craft award judging for the Ohio Outdoor Writers Association and has recently been published in OWAA’s Outdoors Unlimited with a “how to” article on web video.
Mark is also the current 2015-2016 President of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association and is also the Future Sites Chair. His focus is assisting MOWA with the leadership needed to keep the organization in the spotlight with media across the state of Michigan. Mark is also an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He is married to wife Shannon and has 1 daughter Jacquelyn.
GreatLakesSportsman fishing with Mark Sak
Lapeer County Pheasants Forever
Elk Lake Attica MI
Jeff is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer from Lapeer, Michigan and is a regular contributor to several national and regional hunting and fishing publications. He is fortunate to live in Michigan where outdoor recreational opportunities abound and weekends typically find him on the water, in the woods or in the field with his two bird dogs.
Rick Fowler has been a freelance outdoor writer for the past 24 years. His articles have been published in numerous magazine such as MICHIGAN OUTDOOR NEWS, WOODS-N-WATER, HOOKS AND BULLETS, MIDWEST OUTDOORS, THE MACKINAC JOURNAL, THE PORCUPINE PRESS, MICHIGAN OUT OF DOORS, FLYFISHING and is also a columnist for GOOD LIFE magazine. He has won two Reader’s Choice Awards as a Michigan Section writer for MIDWEST OUTDOORS and three Craft Awards with MOWA
Growing up in northwest Michigan gave him ample opportunities to fish and hunt. “Plus for the past 25 years we have owned a cottage in the Upper Peninsula on
South Manistique Lake. This means I have even more acreage and miles and miles of water to explore from both locales.”
As a youngster, he like so many others was influenced by watching Mort Neff on the original Michigan-Out-Of-Doors show. “It whet my outdoor spirit.” However, he also remembers the words from his dad who often would remark, “You are never too to learn!”
“I try to keep this in mind every time I’m on the water or in the woods. It helps keep things in perspective.”
Rick’s advice to those who are new to the outdoors is “Just like writers need to write everyday to excel, if you want to enjoy the outdoors you need to get outdoors in all four seasons. Take a walk, take binoculars or take your tent. Outdoors is the ultimate field trip.”
Rick is a retired High School English teacher. He and his wife Sue reside in Harbor Springs, Michigan.
Darin Potter’s passion for outdoor writing began at the age of twelve when he first began writing in a journal that his parents bought him on a family camping trip in Northern Michigan. Eventually, his writings became published in Michigan-Out-of-Doors Magazine, Michigan and Ohio Outdoor News, MidWest Outdoors Magazine, and Modern Pioneer Magazine.
Darin is a member of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, National Rifle Association, Commemorative Bucks of Michigan, and the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association. Darin is also the creator and editor of Beards and Tines a blog about hunting whitetails and wild turkeys. To date, he has four turkeys and one whitetail buck recorded in the CBM Big Game Records Book.
He is also a certified Michigan Hunter Safety instructor and an International Bowhunters Education Program instructor. Currently, Darin is employed as a Park Ranger at the Rifle River Recreation Area for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.
Jacob VanHouten is a freelance outdoor writer, photographer and biologist; Full-time college Professor of Environmental Science and Biology. Member, past President and board member of Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) and Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA). Credits include Outdoor Guide Magazine; Michigan Outdoor News; Fur-Fish-Game; Woods-n-Water News; Quail Unlimited; North American Hunter. He resides in Midland, MI with his wife Christine and their three dogs.
Amanda is a transplanted Michigan resident, but don’t hold that against her – at least she moved straight to the U.P.! Upon her uprooting in 2005, the new Michigan soil, er, rock was perfect for unfurling her branches. With an English major and writing minor from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, all she needed was a little inspiration. Fortunately, Copper Harbor had a lot.
While filling notebooks with adventures, experiences, favorite places and pure magic, she realized she better start sharing with the world.
Her first book, Little Slices of da Harbor – Copper Harbor, MI, came out in 2014. The characters tell their stories concisely, and, as the reader settles in, they can sense how the speakers’ attitudes change during each season. Her second book, Touring the Tip: Copper Harbor’s Adventure Guide, helps visitors and locals get out on their bike, in their hiking boots, in their kayak or on their skis. This guide is intended to help the user experience the area while providing the persona of a personal tour guide. This guide also won third place in the MOWA Craft Awards for Best Book in 2015.
Other than that, she keeps trying to get out there and experience the great wide U.P. from many silent sports angles. Then she shares her experiences through her blog (www.daharbor.blogspot.com). She’s published other stories in several different publications throughout Michigan including Traverse Magazine, The Great Lakes Pilot, ActionHub.com, Yooper Steez Blog, Porcupine Press and The Copper UP. Outside of Michigan, she has been hired to write for FreeHub Magazine and Mountain Flyer. She has also traveled and written for two separate Pure Michigan campaigns.
Her recent awards include:
2014 – 1st honorable mention in the 2nd Annual U.P. Nature Writing Contest
2015 – 3rd place for best color photo in the MOWA Craft Awards
2015 – 3rd place for best book in the MOWA Craft Awards
2015 – 2nd place for best feature article in the MOWA Craft Awards
2015 – honored to be a judge for the 3rd Annual U.P. Nature Writing Contest
Check out her website (www.writingfromdaharbor.com) to learn more about this spirited young outdoor enthusiast.
David V. Graham has been a member of MOWA since 1987, two years after he became the outdoor writer for The Flint Journal. He served nine years on the MOWA board of directors in the 80s and 90s and recently served as vice president and president of the organization. He is now board chairman.
While working for the Journal, Graham won more than 35 national and state writing and photography awards, including 11 awards from OWAA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “Good Shots, Great Stories” contest.
MOWA’s awards included honors for feature writing, news writing, columns, photography and travel writing. Graham continued to write free-lance for The Journal for six years after retiring in 2005 and won 10 MOWA awards during that time.
Graham currently writes features for The Michigan Outdoor News.
Although he writes stories about a wide variety of outdoor subjects, Graham is particularly interested in hunting, camping, canoeing, sailing and fly fishing stories. He is most devoted to bird hunting and has trained and hunted over a long string of Brittany spaniels and English setters in the last 40 years. He has been fortunate enough to hunt antelope species on two safaris to South Africa since 2000.
Born and raised in southeastern Michigan, Dennis Neely is an award winning freelance writer and photographer. He is an active member of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Dennis is considered by some to be one of the foremost authorities on traditional black powder hunting. For over 35 years, he has pursued and taken white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, small game and waterfowl with a flintlock smoothbore called “Old Turkey Feathers” while dressed in the linen and leather clothing of a 1790-era backwoodsman. His engaging 18th-century essays are based on actual hunting exploits near the headwaters of the River Raisin, and his stories help preserve America’s rich hunting heritage for loyal readers in over 60 countries.
Dennis writes two monthly columns, “Traditional Black Powder Hunting,” and the “Black Powder Shooting Sports.” His “River Raisin Journal” essays are a collection of nature reflections, transcribed from actual journal entries that touch on a broad spectrum of outdoor activities on a southern Michigan farm that borders the River Raisin. In addition, Dennis’ “Small Town, Anywhere” series focuses on the fond memories, youthful impressions and painful life lessons associated with growing up and staying in a Midwestern small town.
Bill Parker has been writing about Michigan’s outdoors for 30 years and has been the editor of Michigan Outdoor News since its inception in January 2000.
Prior to that he was a sports editor and the outdoors editor for the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers for 13 years (1986-1999), and was a sports writer/photographer for the Glendale Star (Arizona) in the early 1980s while attending college. Bill’s freelance articles (1985-1999) have appeared in Michigan Hunting & Fishing Magazine (field editor), Michigan Out of Doors Magazine, Fur Fish & Game Magazine, World Bowhunter Magazine, Woods-n-Water News and the Huron Daily Tribune.
Hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and camping have been staples in Bill’s life. His father taught Bill and his two brothers about the outdoors from an early age and that exposure has turned into a lifelong passion.
Bill has been a member of MOWA since 1990. He is a past president (5 years) and a past board member. He also has worked on several committees including Craft Awards (chairman), Clean Waters Award, Teddy Awards and the Papa Bear Award.
Over Bill’s career as an outdoors writer he has won dozens of awards for his writing and photography including MOWA’s inaugural Dave Richey Communicator of the Year Award (2015) and Michigan United Conservation Club’s Ben East Communicator of the Year Award (2015).
Bill lives in Lake Orion with his wife of 27 years, Donna. They have two grown daughters, Jenelle and Kayle, who share Bill’s passion for the outdoors. He also own a German short-haired pointer, Brady, “a five-year-old hunting machine.”
I’ve been writing articles for publication for about 50 years now. I started writing outdoor material and taking outdoor photos for Marquette’s daily newspaper, The Mining Journal, when I was in high school. I eventually started producing articles, columns and photos for the newspaper on a weekly basis and contributed to other newspapers in Michigan and Wisconsin as well.
My focus gradually shifted to marketing articles and photos to state, regional and national magazines and I’ve been writing for magazines ever since. Over the years, my work has been published in most major outdoor magazines. I was a field editor for Deer & Deer Hunting and Bear Hunting Magazines for a number of years and am now a field editor for Bear Hunters Online.
My first book, which was titled Deer Hunting, was published by Stackpole Books in 1978. The 4th edition of that book was published by the same publisher in 2011, and I won a 1st place award for that book in MOWA’s annual writing competition. Well over 100,000 copies of all editions of that book have been sold.
I’ve written a total of 26 books. I also won a MOWA award for my most recent book, the 2nd edition of Black Bear Hunting.
I’m the only person I know of in North America to have photographed a grizzly bear attack. I got to go along with a Montana game warden who was relocating a problem grizzly in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Needless to day, the relocation did not go as planned. That sequence of photos has been published all over the world and has been used in several television productions.
I started shooting video in 2003 and I wish I had done so sooner. Since then I’ve produced two DVDs. One is Field Judging Black Bears that is 46 minutes in length. The other is Walking With Whitetails, which is 90 minutes long.
I’m also a seminar speaker at hunting shows, banquets and other events about a variety of topics that can be seen on my website. My books and DVDs can also be ordered through my website: www.richardpsmith.com. I have a Facebook page.
Ryan Walker began sharing his passion for the outdoors and experiences in nature in 2003 as co-host of the radio program, Walker’s Outdoor Obsession. That initial foray into outdoor communication opened the door to an outdoor writing career that has spanned the past 12 years. Walker’s writing includes topics related to hunting, fishing, trapping, habitat maintenance and improvement, camping, canoeing, and introducing youth to the great outdoors. In addition to these topics, his main focus is wild game cooking. Backwoods Buffet and The Tall Tale Café have been featured in publications such as Midwest Hunting and Fishing magazine and The Outdoor Obsession in the Tuscola County Advertiser. His work can also be found in his monthly outdoor column in The Lakeshore Guardian, as well as freelance articles for Woods-N-Water News and the Tuscola County Advertiser. Additional past writing experience includes weekly news and features for the Cass City Chronicle.
Walker has been the featured keynote speaker for various outdoor groups and events. He has been an active member of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA) since 2006, and currently serves on the MOWA board and is the Nominations co-chairman. When not spending time chasing outdoor pursuits with his wife, Rebecca, and their three children: Hugh, Claire, and Oliver, he can be found creating new wild game recipes and experimenting with different styles of cooking. Walker’s 16 years as a high school English teacher allows him to share his love of writing and outdoor interests with his students.
- Duck Hunter 50 years–all three flyways, brackish and fresh waters
- Duck & Goose Calling Contestant and Judge; with DU 40 yrs
- Attended U.S. Fish & Wildlife Training School at advent of steel shot
- Certified NRA Range Safety Officer, member NRA 40 years
- Waterfowl & Upland Hunting Guide 2000 acres private land 1974-01
- Best of Show Decoy Carver Michigan and Ohio 1985; etc.
- Published Outdoor Writer since 1981; member of M.O.W.A.
- Seven national magazines, numerous regional & local publications
- Wrote column: “Waterfowler’s Corner” W-N-W News Michigan
- Appeared regularly T. V. Show, MICHIGAN OUTDOORS & others
- Professional Dog Trainer taught “Natural Retrieve Training” retrievers, pointers, flushers……contest & steady/finished field dogs
- Trout Fishing Guide Dillon, Montana (world class waters)
- First Mate on salt water party boats Atlantic Highlands, NJ
- Dedicated Deer & Turkey Hunter:bow, rifle, muzzleloader; voice caller
- Opportunistic predator hunter
- Licensed Bird Taxidermist, member of TU, ardent fly tier
- Inventions: One Man Body Blind: Ameristep’s The Ringer Blind #848
- 30″ long Tolling Swimmer Decoy, 1986 Michigan contest winner
- Bob Allen floatation gun case 1983
- Retriever Platform Training System for Waterfowling
- Joe’s “Hi-Wing” Streamer Flies; Joe’s “Hi Tail” Buggers
Jonathan Schechter is the Nature Education Writer for Oakland County Parks and an active member of The Wilderness Medical Society as well as being the current Vice President of MOWA. He has a Master of Science Degree in Forest Resources from the University of Washington in Seattle and is an active backpacker and former park naturalist. For 11 years he had a weekly award-winning Sunday feature hiking/nature column in The Oakland Press and wrote for the Birmingham-Bloomfield Eccentric for seven years before that.
He contributes monthly to Woods N Water News on the topic of Outdoor Safety and First Aid and has a feature story in the 2015 Travelers Guide to Traverse City. Other recent significant writings include two nationally published story for Parks Recreation & Business Magazine, one on creating creative interpretive signage, the other on trail development with equestrian users in mind. When not out hiking, kayaking or exploring in Michigan he can be found in the mountains of North Carolina , the low country of South Carolina or the deserts of the American Southwest.
In the past few years he has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro and trekked across northern Israel for the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. Schechter lives on ll acres in Brandon Township Michigan and can be reached at email@example.com His weekly “Wilder Side of Oakland County” blog appears on the government site of Oakland County and can be viewed at OaklandCountyblog.com and on Schechter’s nature-rich Facebook site.
Tom Lounsbury has been a freelance outdoor writer/photographer for more than 32 years. He has written a weekly outdoor newspaper column for more than 31 years per the Huron Daily Tribune and The Tuscola County Advertiser, as well as he has written regularly for Woods – N – Water News since that publication’s early days, and has had a weekly radio show (Tom Lounsbury Outdoors – WLEW, Bad Axe) now for over 10 years. He also has had articles in other outdoor publications.
Tom joined MOWA in 1985 and has served on the Board and is a past president, and is presently co-chairman of the Nominations Committee. He has received several MOWA Craft Awards.
A lifelong resident of the “Thumb”, Tom is the 4th generation to own the family Centennial farm, which he has the majority of in conservation programs (he was the Tuscola County 2007 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year). He got his start in the outdoors when his mother took him on a pheasant hunt (he was the “pooch”) when he was 3 years old and he has been pursuing local wild pheasants ever since, as well as raising and training dogs for the purpose. Tom’s favorite outdoor passions are those that he can pursue locally and he is very pleased with what Michigan has to offer statewide.
Tom is fluent with firearms (rifles, shotguns, handguns and muzzleloaders) and archery (primitive, traditional and compound bows, as well as crossbows). He is also a Hunter Education Instructor and firmly believes in promoting the outdoors for the youth.
Russ Fimbinger is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. His articles and photos have appeared in Michigan outdoor magazines and newspapers for the past 30 years. He has been a MOWA member since the mid 1980’s. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Marion, Michigan.
Lane Walker is an award-winning author and outdoor writer. He has published over 250 articles professionally in newspapers and magazines across the country. Lane is a former elementary school teacher and has been a school principal the past five years. Walker has five books published in his Hometown Hunters Collection and won a bronze medal Moonbeam Award in 2014 for the Best Kids Series.
His books are sold nationally, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Walker has written for Christian Sportsmen Fellowship, Midwest Hunting and Fishing, Tuscola County Advertiser, Woods-N-Water Magazine, Michigan Outdoor News and has been featured in several other magazines. Lane enjoys hunting, especially bowhunting and chasing spring turkeys. He was fortunate to shoot a 6 x 6 bull elk in December 2009 in Michigan while drawing a coveted, once in a lifetime Bull elk tag. Lane was also a host of a radio program Walker’s Outdoor Obsession for two years.
As much as he loves hunting, his true passion is being a father. Lane has three daughters and recently had a son. In addition to writing, Lane is also a professional keynote speaker traveling the state speaking at schools, churches and wild game dinners. To learn more about Walker, visit his website www.hometown-hunters.com
Mark Romanack, host of Fishing 411 TV and Outdoor Writer is a Michigan resident and lifelong outdoorsmen. Mark got his BS degree from Northern Michigan University, majoring in Conservation and minoring in both Photography and Criminal Justice.
After graduation in 1981, Mark went to work for the Green Point Nature Center in Saginaw, Michigan as an Interpretive Naturalist. During the six years Mark worked for GPNC he concentrated on developing a wide range of outdoor education programs aimed at school age children and also adults.
In 1985 Mark started writing for outdoor magazines as a means of supplementing his income. His first article was published by Michigan Out of Doors Magazine and Mark continues to write monthly for the magazine to this day. Mark’s outdoor writing career has spanned more than 30 years and generated over 4000 byline credits in 60+ outdoor magazines and periodicals. In addition to writing monthly for a host of outdoor magazines, Mark also authored 13 printed books focusing on the subject of fishing and three E-Books.
Partially retired from the writing game, Mark still writes monthly for Woods n Waters News, Lake Ontario Outdoors and he pens a weekly fishing blog for the Fishing 411 web and Facebook pages.
Most of Mark’s attention these days focuses on managing a team of talented individuals that make Fishing 411 Television possible. Fishing 411 broadcasts nationally on the World Fishing Network. Currently filming Season 10, each episode of Fishing 411 focuses on education and shining the spotlight on popular fishing destinations in the Great Lakes Region and beyond.
A host of manufacturers and service companies work closely with Fishing 411 to help in their branding efforts including Off Shore Tackle, Evinrude Outboards, Starcraft Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Cisco Fishing Systems, Yakima Bait Company, Argo Amphibious Vehicles, MotorGuide Electric Motors, Smooth Moves Seats, Bait Rigs Tackle, Fish Hawk Electronics, Eagle Claw Hooks and Pro Cure Bait Scents.
Tom Pink has been a freelance writer since 1986. He often writes about waterfowl hunting and general nature observations, but he has written about hunting turkeys, white-tailed deer, small game, morels, and much more, including stand-up paddle boarding. He has been writing obituaries for more than 30 years, as well as producing advertising and marketing for community causes, including hospice stories, downtown development features, and waterfront development articles. He can help with content for social media platforms, too.
Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Veteran outdoor broadcaster Mike Avery is the host and producer of the syndicated Outdoor Magazine Radio show. That three hour weekly program has been on the air for more than twenty years and is heard on 27 AM and FM stations across Michigan. The podcast version of the show is available worldwide online. Details available at MikeAveryOutdoors.com.
Avery also produces a rapidly growing podcast network featuring outdoor companies and organizations. Those groups include Jay’s Sporting Goods, Off Shore Tackle, Darton Archery, Angler Qwest Boats, Michigan United Conservation Clubs and HHA Sports. The podcasts can be heard at OutdoorMagazinePodcastNetwork.com.
Avery had previously produced an outdoor television show, also called Outdoor Magazine. That show was seen on broadcast stations in Michigan and nationally on The Outdoor Channel, Men’s Network and Sportsman Channel. After nearly twenty five years in production, Mike decided to get out of TV to concentrate on radio and social media. “It was one of the best professional moves I’ve ever made” says Avery.
For more than 45 years, Bill Semion has been a news / feature writing / public relations professional with extensive experience in managing, writing and editing press releases, feature articles, brochures, video scripts and studies. His writing and editing experience runs the gamut from newspaper to magazine to the Internet.
He has acted as a spokesperson for on-camera and radio interviews, is the author of two award -winning books. His strong conceptualizing, writing, editing, proofreading and people skills—with an eye for detail and a commitment to quality work that is powerful, creative and stylistically and grammatically correct, place him among the cream of Michigan travel/outdoor writers. Bill spends as much time as possible fishing or cross-country and downhill skiing in his own corner of northern Michigan.
Jim Bedford was born in eastern Washington but has been a southern Michigan resident since 1950 and has been an avid river angler almost that long. He lives with his wife of 51 years, Kathel, and has two grown children. He fishes often with his daughter, Terri. Jim has earned degrees in Fisheries Biology (B.S. & M.S.) and Aquatic Entomology (Ph.D).
He retired from his duties as an environmental toxicologist for the State of Michigan in 1998 and now pulls on his waders three or more times a week. Jim also taught fishing classes at his local community college for 27 years.
While he concentrates his fishing in Michigan, he also travels regularly to the rivers of other states and provinces. An award winning author and photographer, Jim has been writing for over 40 years and has written for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, In Fisherman, North American Fisherman, Salmon Trout Steelheader, Fur-Fish-Game, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, and Trout, as well as numerous regional and Michigan publications. He has written four books including the recently published “Spinner Magic!”. He joined the Matzuo America Pro Staff in 2015.
Bob Garner was born in Pontiac, Michigan and grew up in Clarkston. Though he considers himself “the least interesting person I know,” he has been a longstanding figure in the background as well as the forefront of Michigan’s conservation history.
He first entered the political world as an18-year old; the first teenager in Michigan to run for public office after a new law changed the minimum age. At age 21, Bob worked in the Michigan Senate for more than three years under Senator Kerry Kammer, who was at the time the youngest serving state Senator. Kammer credits Bob Garner with the idea to introduce the Kammer Recreational Land Trust Fund Act of 1976 (P.A. 204) creating the first iteration of what is now known as the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. They worked together through a unique alliance of the Michigan Gas and Oil Association, Michigan United Conversation Clubs (MUCC), and state government leaders and lawmakers — with the blessing of former Michigan “conservation” Governor William G. Milliken and with the help of Bob’s long-time friend and hunting and fishing buddy Bill Rustem, then staff to Governor Milliken.
In 1979, Bob worked for fellow Conservation Hall of Famer, State Representative Thomas Anderson and Bob served as the only aide to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Conservation, Environment, and Recreation. Bob recalls, “I came to work in the legislature when all things were possible, and right now all things are suspect… In spite of all that, I’m more optimistic about conservation now than ever. Sometimes out of your deepest morass, comes solutions”.
Garner moved from behind the scenes in politics to in front of the camera on television in 1983, when he became producer, field producer and co-host of Michigan Outdoors. After seven years, he mentioned leaving the TV show to a group of legislators and word traveled fast—that day Speaker of the House Lewis Dodak invited Bob back to the legislature to help with the Firearms Preemption Act of 1990, which prevented local units of government from passing special taxes and ordinances to govern firearms more stringently than the state. He also went on to be assistant to Rep. Jerry Bartnik, who, back in 1984, had led the charge to protect the Trust Fund in the Michigan Constitution, which Bob helped with even though he was doing Michigan Outdoors at the time.
During his two stints around the legislature, he was involved in the creation and the negotiation of many major initiatives. While with Rep. Anderson, Garner led legislation through the House that became the Michigan Wetlands Protection Act.
“With Tom Anderson, there was no leash on me. He relied on me to determine what needed to be done.” Among other things, Bob also helped push through the bill to create the Budget and Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund), and worked on sand dunes mining regulations, soil erosion, allowing handguns for hunting in Southern Michigan and the biggest was opening up the Pigeon River Country for oil and gas drilling. Always modest though, Bob said “None of this is me …I didn’t cast a single vote.”
Bob returned to television as executive producer and host of the Michigan Out-of-Doors television show from 1993 to 1998. He still enjoys his affiliation with Public Television at Central Michigan University, who actually named him an honorary alumni in 2012 for this fundraising work and continued work on their “Ask the DNR” and “Destination Michigan” shows.
Yet another landmark for conservation that involved Bob Garner was the 1996 Proposal D and G campaign. “That was grueling…but the result was so fantastic.” He likes to say that if the conservation community couldn’t have delivered on that, we didn’t deserve all the other hard fought things we enjoyed. “We had to pull that off for the next generation.”
In the late 90s, Bob served on MUCC’s Board of Directors as treasurer. He resigned when he was appointed to the Natural Resources Commission by Governor John Engler in 1999. While he says he was honored, it wasn’t something that he had really sought out although four of his former supervisors over the years had also served on the NRC. Among the issues he was involved with over his eight years on the Commission were Bovine TB, the “deer wars”, being proactive on the Chronic Wasting Disease issue and the comprehensive land consolidation process. When he left the NRC, he was welcomed as a member of the DNR/DEQ retirees, even though he never worked for either.
While it seems like his name has been synonymous with the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund since its inception, he still feels privileged for having served on the Trust Fund Board for 10 years now—3 years as an NRC representative, before being appointed in 2006 by Governor Jennifer Granholm and serving as chair for two terms.
Garner says he’ll leave the Trust Fund Board in December 2013 after his term expires because he believes, as he did when he left the NRC, that new and younger voices need to be engaged in these discussions.
When asked to pinpoint a favorite hunting or fishing trip in Michigan, Bob finds this impossible. But he does remember one of his favorite opening days of deer season. After getting out of TV the first time (1990), he was sitting in his deer blind and for the first time in a long time he was able to enjoy his freedom from deadlines, camera crews, and interviews. But he went on to say, “Hunting, fishing, and eating and getting paid for it, that’s not too bad either.”
Beth, his wife of almost 32 years, has joined him on several fishing and hunting adventures over the years, as has his son Anders (named for the late State Representative Tom Anderson), and his lab Theo. Bob considers his “crowning achievement” to be this past January, when Anders returned to Michigan with his wife Melinda and Bob’s grandsons Devin (7) and Drake (4).
“The truth of the matter is I’ve had nothing but fun,” he says.
He has hunted or fished in every one of Michigan’s 83 counties, many other states and provinces, but claims “It’s not what you shoot or catch that will bring you back, it’s what you see” and it’s the people that make these memories special.
While Bob feels that there are many people that are in the Conservation Hall of Fame that did so much, and feels he “just stood on their shoulders and worked out the details,” we respectfully disagree.
Bob Garner has left his fingerprints on every major conservation initiative over the last 40 years. We are proud and honored to add one more award in recognition to his lifelong commitment to Michigan’s natural resources and public lands, bringing the outdoors to living rooms across the state, and landmark conservation initiatives that will last many lifetimes. We hereby induct him into MUCC’s Conservation Hall of Fame.
Editor Emeritus, American Shooting Magazine. The web’s first traditional shootingsports magazine…
Outdoor Writer, Certified Firearms Instructor, Commercial Photographer, Disabled Uva Ulam Videndo Varia Fit
Married to Becky, with three adult children.
Saginaw Valley State College alum
Retired from law enforcement
Outfitter and Guide as my ‘second’ career
Own/operate: Wild Game Dynasty, A professional hunting outfitter/guide service in Michigan and Missouri. WildGameDynasty.com: book hunt & highlights an active blog for clients and friends of WGD, including a line of handcrafted game calls.
Owner of Willoughby Press, Printing and Publishing.
Have retired from the printing side of the business but am still involved in the publishing side. Have been working with Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM) for over 35 years as publisher of Buck Fax magazine and have been involved in all ten volumes of “Michigan Big Game Records”, complete responsibility for editions 8, 9 and 10. Currently scheduled to publish the 11th edition in 2018 after the close of the 2017 CBM scoring period on March 31, 2018.
Tom Buchkoe is a third generation Yooper and a native of Marquette. He graduated from Bishop Baraga HS in Marquette and earned a BA degree in Art from St Johns University in Collegeville Minnesota.
He spent ten years working at the Marquette Mining Journal and the Ketchikan (AK) Daily News before starting a freelance photography career. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications including: Alaska Magazine, The New Your Times, The Washington Post, The National Inquirer, Michigan History, Michigan-Out-Of-Doors, Outside, Lake Superior Magazine and Midwest Living. He has received numerous awards for his work including being selected as a member of Who’s Who among executives and professionals.
Tom keeps busy shooting for commercial, industrial and travel clients as well as doing aerial, scenic, underwater and product work. Digital restoration, logo design and brochure work are among his services offered. A limited amount of wedding, portrait and senior photography are also available.
He is also owner of the Yooper Postcard Company which produces and sells humorous postcards making fun of Yoopers. They can be purchased in over 100 stores in the UP and at yooperpostcards.com.
When not working, Tom enjoys camping, boating, scuba diving, and dirt bike riding with his wife Barb. Their twin sons, Mike and Eric, are graduates of Northern Michigan University and live in Minneapolis MN and Racine WI.
You can contact Tom at 906-226-3459, PO Box 852, Marquette MI 49855, or e-mail him at email@example.com or visit his website at http://www.buchkoe.com.
A freelancer since 1980, Tom Carney has won more than 60 awards for his books, photography, and journalism in areas as diverse as travel, nature and outdoor recreation, humor, news reporting and analysis, and columns. He currently serves as the editor of The Upland Almanac, a quarterly magazine for upland bird hunting enthusiasts.
Additionally, he provides copywriting services for tech companies based in the Detroit Metro area. He has served MOWA as secretary, vice president, president, chairman of the board, and chairman/member of several committees. In 2016, recognizing Tom’s combination of accomplishments as an outdoor writer and contributions to the group itself, MOWA awarded him its coveted “Papa Bear Award.”
He lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife Maureen and his two setters, Abbey the Irish red and white and Lizzy the English. He is available for assignments or speaking engagements. For writing samples, see the blog page at www.tomcarneywriter.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.