People and Organizations

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Alexander, Harold Edward

Harold Edward Alexander was a conservationist and stream preservationist who was a proponent of conservation and wildlife management in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1980s. The Harold E. Alexander Wildlife Management Area in Sharp County was named in recognition of his service to Arkansas conservation and his long career with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). He has been called “the father of Arkansas conservation.” Harold Alexander was born on November 23, 1909, in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of Edward Alexander, the treasurer for the city of Lawrence, and Ruby Pringle Alexander. Alexander was the oldest of four boys. He went to Lawrence High School and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1939 with two years of …

Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club

aka: Sierra Club
The Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club was established in 1982 as the state chapter of the national Sierra Club. Its mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.  The Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club traces its origin to the Ozark Headwaters Group (OHG) of the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club in Missouri. In 1972, Barry Weaver, then the chair of the Highland Chapter of the Ozark Society, proposed that Arkansans with Sierra Club membership form …

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is Arkansas’s regulatory body in the area of environmental protection. It is headquartered in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the state government’s first “green” building. ADEQ operates seventeen field offices throughout the state. ADEQ’s first incarnation was the Arkansas Water Pollution Control Commission, created by Act 472 of 1949. Originally operating under the auspices of the Arkansas Department of Health, the commission was given the power to “administer and enforce all laws relating to the pollution of any waters in the State,” investigate pollution, establish pollution standards, and “prepare a comprehensive program for the elimination or reduction of pollution” in state waters. However, the commission comprised three gubernatorial appointees “representing industry, municipalities, …

Arkansas Native Plant Society

The Arkansas Native Plant Society (ANPS) was established in 1980 to promote, first, the preservation, conservation, study, and enjoyment of the native plants of Arkansas; second, the education of the public regarding the value of native plants and their habitats; and, third, the publication of related information. Regular meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year to conduct business, give presentations, and embark on field trips. The ANPS newsletter, Claytonia, is published preceding the spring and fall meetings. On November 17, 1979, consideration to form ANPS took place at the annual Arkansas Biological Curriculum Development Conference on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). In a session discussing endangered plants, the …

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC)

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) works to conserve the state’s natural diversity and is charged with the responsibilities of 1) establishing and protecting the Arkansas System of Natural Areas; 2) collecting and maintaining information on the rare plant, animal, and high-quality natural communities of Arkansas; and 3) providing data and information regarding the natural diversity of Arkansas. Original legislation in Acts 297 of 1971 and 112 of 1973 spurred the creation of the ANHC. In 1971, Act 297 charged the Arkansas Planning Commission with establishing a system for the preservation of natural areas and with providing for the inventory, acquisition, and protection of such areas. The department developed a plan for meeting these goals, the Arkansas Natural Area Plan, …

Arkansas Water Works and Water Environment Association

Comprising the operators of water and sewer systems statewide and their affiliates, the Arkansas Water Works and Water Environment Association has met annually in all but one year since 1931 with the goal of improving water quality through high standards and professionalism in the field. With the lead of the American Water Works Association, and in harmony with efforts under way in other states, the first meeting of what was then called the Arkansas Water Works Conference took place at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1931 and drew forty-seven registered members. There, a slate of officers was elected, and the group resolved to form a permanent organization that would meet annually in cooperation with the …

Arkansas Wildlife Federation

The mission of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) is “to advocate for the sustainable use of Arkansas’ wildlife habitats and natural resources for future generations.” The nonprofit AWF works to conserve and protect land and water habitat in Arkansas, as well as game and fish. Market hunters of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had hunted much of the native wildlife in Arkansas—such as the buffalo, elk, wolf, and trumpeter swan populations—to extinction, near extinction, or extirpation. Market hunters also decimated most of the native deer, black bear, mountain lion, and turkey populations within Arkansas. To protect the wildlife remaining in Arkansas, the AWF was founded in 1936, the same year as the formation of its parent organization, the National …

Audubon Arkansas

Audubon Arkansas was established in 2000 as the twenty-fifth state office of the National Audubon Society through a seed grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. Audubon Arkansas’s mission is to inspire and lead Arkansans in environmental education, resource management, habitat restoration, bird conservation, and enlightened advocacy. In 2003, Audubon Arkansas was recognized as “Conservation Organization of the Year” by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. Robert Shults was the founding board chairman of Audubon Arkansas. Shults, an Arkansan, served on the National Audubon Society board of directors from 1980 to 1986. The chairman of the National Audubon Society at the time was Donal C. O’Brien. O’Brien and Shults both served on the board of trustees of the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. …

Compton, Neil Ernest

Neil Ernest Compton of Bentonville (Benton County) was a physician of obstetrics by profession and a conservationist by avocation. He is widely recognized as the founder of the Ozark Society to Save the Buffalo River, which he and his associates initiated on May 24, 1962, at a meeting in Fayetteville (Washington County). Today, it is known as the Ozark Society, Inc. Its original goal was to stop the construction of two proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams on the Buffalo River. Neil Compton was born on August 1, 1912, at Falling Springs Flats in Benton County, the son of David Compton Jr. and Ida Etta Wilmoth Compton. He attended elementary school at Bozarth, a rural school near Gentry (Benton County). …

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro (Craighead County) was built through the efforts of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). It is one of four such nature centers that were built after the 1996 passage of a one-eighth-cent conservation sales tax. Named after Forrest L. Wood, former commissioner and longtime supporter of the AGFC, the center opened on August 25, 2004, after nearly two years of construction. Located on the northern, wider part of the 200-mile-long Crowley’s Ridge, the center provides the public an opportunity to view wildlife in its habitat and learn about the area’s history. The facility maintains several interactive indoor/outdoor exhibits and offers two related films. Educational programs focus on Arkansas’s history …

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center

aka: Delta Rivers Nature Center
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is Arkansas’s first nature center. Located in Regional Park, it opened on July 28, 2001. It is run by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Education Division. The construction of the center, originally known as the Delta Rivers Nature Center, was funded by a conservation sales tax passed in 1996. The center consists of a 13,000-square-foot main building with exhibits highlighting Delta wildlife and history; it also includes a large meeting facility, a working laboratory, and a nature store. Located outside the main building are two aquariums totaling 22,000 gallons in volume. They display fish and other aquatic species native to the region in a natural setting. …

Hancock, Archibald Rex, Jr.

Archibald Rex Hancock Jr. was a dentist who lived in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and whose passion for outdoor life and the environment led him to become one of Arkansas’s most ardent supporters of conservation measures. He became known primarily for his fight to preserve the natural character of the wetlands along the Cache River in eastern Arkansas. Rex Hancock was born on July 6, 1923, in Laddonia, Missouri, the youngest of three children of Archibald Rex Hancock Sr., a dentist, and Alma Bothman Klein. He graduated from Laddonia High School in 1941. He interrupted studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, to serve as pharmacist’s mate in the U.S. Seventh Fleet Amphibious Division during World War II. After the war, …

Hardison, T. W.

Thomas William Hardison is known as the founder of the Arkansas state park system, though he was also renowned in the disparate areas of medicine, archaeology, resource conservation, community service, natural and cultural history, and literature. T. W. Hardison was born in Richland (Columbia County) on April 2, 1884, to Dr. William Harvey Hardison and Caroline Peavy Hardison. Hardison entered Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1902 but left the next year for Memphis Hospital Medical College. After two years in medical school, he returned to Arkansas in 1905, receiving his medical license through the state medical board. Following a brief practice in Tucker (Jefferson County), Hardison secured a job as a contract physician for the Fort Smith Lumber …

Hill, Julia Lorraine “Butterfly”

Julia Lorraine “Butterfly” Hill is an environmentalist, poet, writer, educator, speaker, and founder of the organization Circle of Life. She earned international fame as an environmental activist by protecting an old-growth forest in northern California from clear-cutting by a logging company. To prevent the logging, she lived in one of the trees—a 1,000-year-old redwood known as “Luna”—for 738 days until an agreement was reached with the Pacific Lumber Company. Julia Butterfly Hill was born on February 18, 1974, in Mount Vernon, Missouri, to Dale Edward Hill, a traveling minister, and Kathleen Anne DelGallo; she has two brothers. Her parents later divorced. Until she was ten, Hill lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where her parents had started a church called Freedom Chapel. …

Nature Conservancy of Arkansas

The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas is part of the international Nature Conservancy headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Nature Conservancy was incorporated on October 22, 1951, in Washington DC as a nonprofit organization. The Arkansas field office, established on April 12, 1982, became the organization’s twenty-ninth state program. The Arkansas program, which opened with about 250 members and a staff of three, has grown steadily in capacity and achievement. The conservancy now has about 6,000 members in Arkansas (the worldwide membership is about one million) and a staff of more …

Nix, Joe Franklin

Joe Nix is a water chemist, environmentalist, naturalist, and educator considered by many to be the watchdog of Arkansas rivers and lakes with respect to water quality and usage patterns. His mission has been to have society use good scientific data in making decisions about environmental matters. Joe Franklin Nix was born on August 28, 1939, the only child of Frank and Era Nix, in Malvern (Hot Spring County). His father was a mechanic; his mother was a homemaker. He was a sickly child, so the doctor advised that he spend a lot of time outdoors. As a youth, he fell under the personal tutelage of family friend and former state geologist Joe Kimzey of Magnet Cove (Hot Spring County). …

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

The OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology of Fayetteville (Washington County) began its work as a traditional peace advocacy organization before moving into local community engagement linked to state, national, and global networks. The organization’s mission is as follows: “OMNI Center educates, empowers and connects, for a world that is nonviolent, sustainable and just.” The OMNI Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The OMNI Center’s founders were James R. (Dick) Bennett and Dana Copp. When Bennett retired from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1998, after a forty-year career as a professor of English, he wanted to start a peace organization and change the world. Copp agreed to help, and in the spring of 2001, they set …

Ozark Natural Science Center

The Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental educational organization facility in the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Bear Hollow Natural Area, located adjacent to the McIlroy Madison County Wildlife Management Area in northwest Arkansas. ONSC offers summer camps, adult and family programming, and conference facilities but is best known as the site of school excursions for more than 4,000 public and private school students from Arkansas and beyond each year. The mission of ONSC is to “enhance the understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment.” This mission is achieved by providing educational programs that immerse participants in the Ozark ecosystems and celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster conservation and stewardship, and nurture appreciation of …

Ozark Society

The Ozark Society is an Arkansas-based environmental organization initially founded to give organized resistance to the construction of dams on the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. Adopting the motto “Conservation, Education, Recreation,” it soon broadened its goals to larger environmental conservation and sponsors a variety of floating and hiking opportunities for members and the general public. The Ozark Society was formed during a time of heightened interest in state conservation efforts. Individuals in northwest Arkansas and Pulaski County had contacted and investigated alliances with national groups about preventing the Buffalo River from being dammed and creating a national park to protect it; however, local activists opted to form a separate organization. On May 24, 1962, the Ozark Society held an …

Parker, Mamie Aselean

Mamie Aselean Parker is a trail-blazing conservationist. The first African American to hold numerous positions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), she ultimately served as northeastern regional director of the service. Since her retirement from the USFWS, she has been an active consultant and public speaker. Mamie Parker was born on October 14, 1957, in Wilmot (Ashley County). Her mother, Cora Parker, was a single parent who supported her family as a sharecropper and was determined that her eleven children (of whom Mamie was the youngest) would receive an education. Named after President Dwight Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, Parker shared her mother’s love of fishing, which ended up shaping her eventual career path. Parker grew up in Wilmot …

Ponca Elk Education Center

The Ponca Elk Education Center was established in 2002 to serve wildlife enthusiasts coming to Newton County to view elk, which were introduced to the state in 1981. The center is in a handsome log building on Arkansas Highway 43 in the village of Ponca in western Newton County. The building was for a short time used as a charter school by a religious organization and was later leased by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The Ponca facility has displays of elk and many other Arkansas wildlife. It features eye-catching photographs and a gift shop selling nature-related items, as well as hunting and fishing licenses. There is also a small meeting room. Porches offer visitors a chance to …

Stern, Jane Rita Ellenbogen

Jane Rita Ellenbogen Stern was a well-known conservationist and environmentalist from Arkansas. She dedicated herself to the preservation of the natural waterways and migratory bird habitats of the state, especially in eastern Arkansas. Jane Ellenbogen was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 2, 1918, to Leonard E. Ellenbogen—owner of a real-estate firm, a clothing store, and a laundry—and Birdie Berger Ellenbogen. She grew up in Little Rock and attended Little Rock public schools. Thereafter, she attended Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). In 1940, Ellenbogen married Dr. Howard S. Stern; they had two children. In 1948, the Stern family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), an area where much of Stern’s conservationist …

Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, whose mission is introducing the public to the importance of conservation education in Arkansas, is the fourth nature center established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The center opened on December 17, 2008, and is funded by the Amendment 75 Conservation Sales Tax, allowing the center to provide free admission. Covering almost three and a half acres of land within the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park in the River Market District in Little Rock (Pulaski County), it is located along the Arkansas River Trail between the First Security Amphitheater and the Interstate 30 Arkansas River bridge. Permanent exhibits include large indoor aquariums filled with native fish from several of Arkansas’s natural …