Jason Sumners appointed as Director of Missouri Department of Conservation


Missouri – Today marks a significant transition for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) as Governor Mike Parson announced that Jason Sumners will be the new director effective June 1, 2024. Sumners, who is currently the deputy director of resource management at MDC, will step into the role following the retirement of Sara Parker Pauley who concludes her 30 years of dedicated public service. This appointment positions Sumners as the tenth director in the Conservation Department’s nearly 90-year history.

Governor Parson Praises New Appointment

“We congratulate Jason on being named the new MDC Director and thank the Conservation Commission for its thoughtful and thorough search to replace Director Pauley,” stated Governor Parson. “While we’ll miss Sara’s leadership, we look forward to Jason using his unique qualifications to build upon Missouri’s rich history of fish, forest, and wildlife preservation. MDC is one of the best departments in the nation, and we thank Jason for his commitment to continuing that legacy as a member of our cabinet.”

Jason Sumners expressed both excitement and humility over his new role. “I am excited and humbled by this opportunity the Commission has entrusted me with and the conservation team I get to work with across the state and country,” he said. “The Missouri outdoors have defined my personal and professional life, so getting to serve in this capacity and continue to tackle the ever-evolving challenges in conservation is an exciting endeavor.”

A National Search for the Director Position

The search for a new director was nationwide, reflecting the importance of finding the right leader. “The Commission did a national search for the director position because we knew we had tough shoes to fill with Sara leaving,” noted Missouri Conservation Commission Chair Steven Harrison. “Jason is uniquely poised for this director role with his background, experience, and national connections in conservation. We are looking forward to a smooth transition with Jason at the helm with high expectations with him as the next director.”

Also read: Governor Parson names new judges to Missouri’s courts in latest round of appointments

Sara Parker Pauley highlighted Sumners’ broad experience and leadership qualities. “Jason brings a wealth of leadership experience in conservation, both at the state and national level, as well as a diverse background in wildlife management,” Pauley commented. “I’m confident he will continue that exceptional leadership he has exemplified during his career at MDC as he becomes your next director, including working collaboratively with partners and the public to carry out the conservation mission.”

Extensive Background and Future Expectations

Sumners’ background is deeply rooted in wildlife and conservation management. He started at MDC in 2008 as a private lands deer biologist before becoming the head of the state’s deer management program. His roles have included leading the Science Branch, overseeing more than 80 scientists, and managing statewide and regional resource efforts. He has also been instrumental in strategic developments such as Missouri’s elk reintroduction, managing chronic wasting disease, and spearheading the Relevancy Roadmap at the national level.

Educationally, Sumners is well-prepared, holding a Bachelor of Science in fisheries and wildlife from the University of Missouri and a Master of Science in Biology from Mississippi State University. His contributions to conservation have been recognized by various organizations, and he remains actively involved in numerous conservation committees and partnerships.

Raised in Lincoln, Missouri, Sumners’ passion for the outdoors was cultivated from a young age. His personal interests include hunting, fishing, and camping. He currently resides in Hartsburg, Missouri with his family. As he prepares to lead MDC, Sumners is set to continue his journey in a role that perfectly aligns with his lifelong commitment to preserving and enhancing Missouri’s natural environments.

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