By Steve “Wildman” Wilson, Honorary Lifetime Member
…and what a birthday party it was! Missouri Department of Conservation sure knows how to throw a party and put on a conference.
My very first conference was in Steamboat Springs, Colo., 30 years ago, when we celebrated the 50th year of ACI. While I was pretty much lost in the crowd during that first year, I knew from the start that the folks attending that conference were “my kind of people.” They worked hard and they played hard.
I can still remember some of the topics covered on their agenda, and I will never forget some of the field trips to the Rocky Mountains. Quite impressive to a country boy from Arkansas. But what I remember most was the way the ACI members made me feel welcome, actually valued my input and graciously adopted me into the ACI family.
Well that was 30 years ago and, quite honestly, not much has changed. I had the privilege of accepting the Lifetime Member scholarship to attend this year’s 80th meeting of ACI in Springfield, Mo., and even though some of the agenda topics have changed and many of the names and faces have changed, ACI remains “my kind of people.” ACI is still full of dedicated, passionate, loyal, energized, progressive, proactive and FRIENDLY individuals with a heart for conservation.
Attending this year’s conference brought back many memories from the past 30 years…places in the United States I never would have visited and lifelong friendships I never would have made if it had not been for my involvement in ACI.
It was so good to see a few of the “old timers” of ACI still active in the conservation movement, but what really impressed me most about this year’s conference was the number of “first timers” attending the conference. It was so encouraging to hear, see and feel the energy of the members wanting to make a difference in our future. I returned to Arkansas with a renewed confidence for our future generations at least having a chance of enjoying the great outdoors.
I am proud to be a Lifetime Member of the Association for Conservation Information.