Conservation Achievement Awards

The Conservation Federation of Missouri is pleased to announce the recipients of our Conservation Achievement Awards for 2020. These winners are Missourians who exemplify all that CFM stands for and have bettered Missouri's outdoors through personal efforts throughout 2020 and their lives. Congratulations to our award winners who will be recognized at the CFM Annual Convention next week.

Outstanding Lifetime Achievement - Bob Todd
Bob Todd has been the embodiment of, “The Voice for Missouri Outdoors.” In 1973, he established the River Hills Traveler outdoor journal. He would serve as editor and publisher for over 40 years. He and his wife, Pat, nurtured and grew the business, expressing their fierce allegiance to their special place in the world, Southeast Missouri. From showcasing the beauty of the region’s unique geology to addressing environmental issues, Bob Todd and the River Hills Traveler became the go-to reference for outdoor information. In his many writings, Bob Todd has been one of Missouri’s strongest voices in support of conservation. Sharing our outdoor story has been his lifetime achievement.  

Conservation Communicator of the Year - Tyler Dykes
Tyler Dykes is a father and an eighth-grade science teacher in Blue Springs. He is also the Show Me Fly Guy. While navigating all the responsibilities of life, work, and family, Tyler still finds time to compose and share content across his many media channels. He is an innovator in conservation communications and is on the leading edge of the next wave of outdoor communicators. With enthusiasm that spills over into everyone he meets, he is dedicated to the cause of conservation and is exceptionally passionate about sharing his love for fly fishing. In today’s age of COVID and virtual living, Tyler is excelling, engaging new audiences, and exposing new people to the great outdoors.

Corporate Conservationist of the Year - Riley Auto Group
Riley Auto Group has been owned and operated by the Riley family since 1936. Being brought up in an automotive family, brothers Mike, Kevin, and Carey Riley were instilled with a passion for the outdoors from a young age. Their grandfather, Don F. Riley, who founded the dealership in 1936, passed away while doing one of the things he loved the most, fishing in Canada. Brought up to respect land, wildlife, and firearms, the Riley brothers have many fond memories of shooting, hunting, and fishing with family and friends on their farm in Missouri and across the country. Now in their 85th year of business, the Riley Auto Group continues their legacy through community involvement, regardless of economic challenges or natural disaster. We look forward to their partnership in generations to come.

Conservation Educator of the Year - Mike Szydlowski
Mike Szydlowski is the K-12 Science Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools. He is dedicated to delivering innovative teaching strategies and educational experiences that develop an appreciation and understanding of our natural world. Mike has instituted place-based learning in Columbia allowing students to study nature, “up close and personal.” It starts with the local habitats around their schools and homes and invites plants and animals into the classroom and takes small groups of students on field trips to the Grand Tetons and Great Smoky Mountains once a year. He still guides the typical classroom experience, but Mike has extended learning beyond the classroom. Hands-on immersion in nature is the first step to cementing the elements and importance of conservation into the psyche of students so they understand, appreciate, and engage in the protection of wild places and wildlife.

Conservation Organization of the Year -
DuckHorn Outdoors Adventures
The mission of DuckHorn Outdoors Adventures is to revitalize the lives of the citizens of the heartland through life-changing experiences provided in a healthy and safe outdoor environment that enrich and support their rural communities. They accomplish this in collaboration with other organizations that share their vision through unplugged outdoor adventures, conservation programs, education, and volunteer opportunities. They recently entered into a partnership with Hope Outdoors to fulfill “Dreams for Disadvantaged,” and provided a duck and pheasant hunt for a terminally ill young man and his family. DuckHorn hopes to provide many more experiences like these in the future, exposing young people to the outdoors around them, extending thanks to military veterans and first responders, and engaging new demographics in hunting and fishing.

Professional Conservationist of the Year - Jason Sumners
Jason Sumners is the Branch Chief of the Resource Science Division at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). His work has improved our whitetail deer herd, provided local, state, and national leadership related to cervid health and Chronic Wasting Disease management, and overall agency relevancy here in Missouri. Jason has provided key guidance on conservation leadership within the conservation family and Department leadership in MDC’s recent reorganization, simplified regulations, identified priority geographies, and worked to increase fish and wildlife populations on many committees and workgroups. We are fortunate to have him, his talents, and his energy in Missouri.

Water Conservationist of the Year - Ezekiel Kuehn
Ezekiel “Zeke” Kuehn (1988-2020) fashioned his own career as a conservation professional around the niche he saw a need for cost-effective, nature-based stream and wetland reservation. The company he built, along with family and friends, Wildscape Environmental, quickly became the go-to “river healers” for southwest Missouri. In 2020 alone, Zeke and Wildscape worked with a variety of partners, including private landowners, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Nature Conservancy, and many more to rehabilitate hundreds of feet of streambanks and expand riparian buffers to increase watershed health. Although Zeke’s time was short, he had a tremendously positive impact on the people and places he touched. He worked worth urgency but took time to enjoy his family and friends. He recognized a need in the industry and filled that niche with a company that continues to grow even in his absence.  

Conservation Legislator of the Year (House) -
Former Representative Kip Kendrick
Representative Kip Kendrick represented part of the City of Columbia and Boone County in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was first elected in November 2014 and served through 2020. Kendrick was instrumental in advocating for Missouri conservation and natural resource efforts while in the House. As an avid outdoorsman, he understands the importance of protecting the many outdoor resources in Missouri for current and future generations to enjoy. Kip Kendrick, his wife Sarah, and their son Abram Andrew enjoy exploring public lands almost every weekend and camping and hiking as often as possible.

Conservation Legislator of the Year (Senate) -
Former Senator Mike Cunningham
Senator Mike Cunningham represented the 33rd District in the Missouri Senate. Before beginning his journey in the Missouri Legislature as a state representative (elected in 2002), Sen. Cunningham owned and managed Cunningham’s Fresh Foods, a supermarket in Marshfield. In addition, he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, serving from 1967 to 1969, attaining the rank of Sergeant E-5 in the military police. He lives in Rogersville with his wife Nikki. He has three children, five grandchildren, and half a dozen bird dogs. He enjoys hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and canoeing.