Retired KC Parks Director Appointed to MO Conservation Commission

Retired KC Parks Director Appointed to MO Conservation Commission

Governor Mike Parson recently appointed retired KC Parks Director Mark McHenry to the Missouri Conservation Commission. He, along with Dr. Steven Harrison of Rolla, was appointed for a six-year term that expires in 2025. They join Commissioners Don Bedell of Sikeston and William (Barry) Orscheln of Moberly.

The four-member Commission is responsible for appointing the Missouri Department of Conservation’s director, serving as policy makers, approving wildlife code regulations, strategic planning, budget development and major expenditure decisions.

Commissioner McHenry has more than 44 years of experience in the parks and recreation field, serving in various capacities within the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. He served as director of the Department from 2003 to 2018.

McHenry and his wife live in Kansas City and enjoy raising German shepherds. They have a son living in the Kansas City area and a daughter and two grandchildren living in North Carolina.

“I’ve always been an outdoors person,” Commissioner McHenry said. “Growing up in central Iowa, we were ‘free-range’ kids who spent our summers and after school running around in the woods and learning a lot about nature. My extended family also had farms nearby and we spent a lot of time there. We also had a little, rustic, family cabin on a lake near where I grew up. We spent much of our summers there, swimming and fishing, and catching frogs and turtles and snakes in the marsh, and just messing around outside and in the woods.”

He added that his life-long love of the outdoors resulted in his choice of schooling and an entire career revolving around nature and conservation through the field of parks and recreation.

“My first job while I was still in high school was as an intern for our county conservation commission where I dropped trees in lakes to make fish habitat, planted trees, mowed grass and picked up trash, and trapped wildlife that became a nuisance.”

He moved to Kansas City after college and started working for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department as an intern.

“During that time, I worked with MDC staff on urban fishing programs, urban forestry, urban deer hunts, and more,” he recalled. “Forty-plus years later, I retired as the director — and learned a great deal along the way.”

He added that he brings those decades of experience to his appointment as a Conservation Commissioner.

“I’m very excited about the Conservation Commission appointment and am looking forward to sharing both my conservation-related business experience with things like budgets, management, and strategic planning, and my life-long love of nature and commitment to conservation.”

An avid runner, hiker, and cyclist, McHenry said he finds beauty and benefits from nature wherever he is.

“I just love being outside in nature, whether out on a hiking trail deep in the woods, or just in the backyard watching birds. Green space is so vitally important, especially in our cities. And not just for nature and wildlife, but for OUR overall health and happiness.”

A majority of Missourians now live in urban areas, and Commissioner McHenry stressed that it is critically important to both bring nature into cities and to get people in cities out into nature.

“I am a voice for urban conservation. Our challenge is to both bring nature and conservation into our urban areas, AND to get folks from our urban areas out into rural nature, like at MDC conservation areas and other wild places.”

McHenry is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association, American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, and the Southwest Parks and Recreation Training Institute. He is also a member of several professional and community boards. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Park Management from Texas Tech University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He currently is a business consultant with Ochsner Hare & Hare, the Olsson Studio.