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AGFC, former commissioner recognized on national stage

BY Randy Zellers

ON 10-05-2022


Oct. 5, 2022

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and a former AGFC commissioner were honored with national awards for conservation outreach and efforts from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies at its annual conference in September.

The AGFC received AFWA’s prestigious Ernest Thompson Seton Award for its efforts in tackling the challenges of restoring and renovating regularly flooded bottomland hardwood forests within the state. Those forests have displayed major damage during the last decade from consistent flooding while trees were not yet dormant. The award is given to a state, provincial or federal agency that has best promoted public awareness of the need to support the science and practice of wildlife management. AGFC Director Austin Booth and AGFC Deputy Director Brad Carner accepted the award on behalf of the agency, which has engaged in a public-awareness campaign and shift in wetland management during the last decade.

“It was so much more than just Brad and me,” Booth said. “When I left the state for college when I was 17 years old, we were starting to talk about GTRs and red oak health, and when I returned, many of these people were still working hard at it. They deserve all the credit for this award.

“I also want to thank our commissioners, who have given us an extreme amount of support in following this path that we know is difficult but correct.

George Dunklin Jr. waterfowl hunting
“Lastly, I want to thank Arkansans. The outdoors and duck hunting isn’t just a hobby in Arkansas, it is part of our economy and part of the fabric that makes us who we are as a state. This is a multigenerational problem that requires a multigenerational solution, and we appreciate all the support we’ve gotten from them as we make these changes.”

Former commissioner George Dunklin Jr. received AFWA’s John L. Morris Award for his lifetime commitment to fish and wildlife stewardship. The AGFC nominated Dunklin for the award, reserved for citizen conservationists who demonstrate exemplary leadership and commitment to large-scale natural resource challenges.

Dunklin was surprised by the recognition. While still serving a leadership role in many conservation organizations and constantly supporting wetland and waterfowl conservation on a regional and national scale, his term as a commissioner was completed in 2012.

“It was really special to be honored like this, and it came as a real shock,” Dunklin said. “But I’m even more honored to receive an award named after Johnny Morris. He is one of the finest conservationists and finest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and that makes receiving this award even more of a special moment.”

Many of the agency’s conservation partners also touted Dunklin’s influence and leadership, including Ducks Unlimited, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Dale Hall, former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director.  

George Dunklin Jr. with trumpeter swan
In her nomination letter, Karen Waldrop, chief conservation officer for DU, wrote, ”We can think of no one that better represents this award than George Dunklin … George has dedicated his life to the conservation of waterfowl and wetlands throughout North America. He has been a DU volunteer since 1983 and has held the highest positions within our organization.”

In addition to being an AGFC commissioner, Dunklin served as president and chairman of DU and was recognized as the 2009 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year. Dunklin’s most recent project is the Five Oaks Agricultural Research and Education Center, which he founded through his family foundation in partnership with the University of Arkansas to train graduate-level biologists in hands-on management of wetlands ecosystems.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies in advancing sound, science-based management and conservation of habitat in the public interest. Visit for more information.

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