Hendrix Students to Have Hands-on Learning Opportunities at AGFC

Randy WilbournRandy Wilbourn

CONWAY, Ark. (May 30, 2013) – Hendrix College students will soon have unique hands-on field research opportunities with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Randy Wilbourn, a 1968 Hendrix graduate and Board of Trustee member, and his wife Judy recently made a gift to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to establish the Henderson Research Fellows in honor of Scott Henderson, who led the agency until he retired October 2011.

"Scott is very passionate about education being the basis for how our natural resources will be preserved,"said Wilbourn, who worked closely with Henderson for several years on the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation.

Henderson began his AGFC career in 1972 as a fish truck driver at the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery in Lonoke and later served as a fisheries research biologist, assistant chief of fisheries, chief of fisheries and assistant director. "His leadership at the commission grew out of the disciplines he practiced as a biologist,"Wilbourn explained.

The Henderson Fellows initiative is an extension of Wilbourn's interest in Arkansas's natural resources and engaged learning at Hendrix. A founding partner of Little Rock-based marketing communications consultants Martin-Wilbourn Partners, Wilbourn and his wife previously established an Odyssey Professorship at Hendrix to support the work of Hendrix faculty who create or expand hands-on learning opportunities for students. The couple also made a gift to The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas that will give students access to Nature Conservancy properties for research projects.

"It's certainly an honor to have something named after you,"said Henderson. "But more importantly, I've always felt a pipeline from college to the Game and Fish Commission would highlight the work of the AGFC and keep environmental issues at the forefront."

Two Henderson Research Fellows will be awarded each year for projects that focus on biology or enforcement.

Hendrix biology and environmental studies professor Dr. Joyce Hardin, AGFC director Mike Knoedl, and AGFC biologist Brad Miller are working on logistics and identifying potential projects that meet AGFC and Hendrix students'needs.

"From the Odyssey program's standpoint, this initiative should be a huge resource,"said Dr. Hardin, who anticipates being able to market the opportunities in fall 2013 for work to begin in spring and summer 2014. "The possibilities are endless."

"Knowing that these young people will be the decision makers of tomorrow, having these experiences with the Game and Fish means they'll make better decisions about our natural resources,"said Steve Smith, president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation. "It's a ‘can't miss'deal. We can't lose."

Knoedl said Henderson was a deserving honoree. "Scott devoted his life to this agency and the people of Arkansas. He provided a great deal of conservation leadership throughout his career,"he said. "I can't think of anyone more deserving,"Knoedl added.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming"liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.