Plenary Session

The 2019 Plenary Session Theme is:

Celebrating Conservation Past & Present

and will feature the following speakers (more information to come):

Dr. Mamie Parker

Partnerships, Inspiration and Excellence

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 was born on October 14, 1957, in Wilmot (Ashley County). Her mother, Cora Parker, was a single parent who supported her 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 and was the salutatorian at Wilmot High School. She went on to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), where she earned a BS in biology in 1980. She later earned an MS in fish and wildlife management and a PhD in limnology from the University of Wisconsin.

Joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978, Parker began her twenty-nine-year career with the service working in the Fish Health Laboratory in Wisconsin. Over the course of her lengthy career, she worked in a variety of posts around the country, including in Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Washington DC. She held the position of ecosystem coordinator in the Great Lakes and Big Rivers Region, and she also worked in an array of programs, including national wetlands, coastal mapping, national fish hatcheries, marine mammals, and wetland restoration. Parker was the service’s point person for negotiations with General Electric in the effort to clean up the Hudson River, and she was responsible for getting Atlantic salmon included on the endangered species list, as well as protecting American waters from invasive species such as snakehead fish and Asian carp. She served as assistant director of the Board of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation at the USFWS and was appointed USFWS regional director of the thirteen northeastern states, becoming the first black person to serve in the positions of deputy regional director and regional director in the service’s history. She also contributed a chapter to The Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals, published by the American Fisheries Society in 2014.

Her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous accolades. She was the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the highest honor the president can bestow upon government employees, as well as the Ira Gabrielson Award, given by the USFWS for outstanding leadership. In 2005, she became the first African American inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. In addition, Good Housekeeping magazine recognized her with the Women in Government Leadership Award, and she was named the Simon Haley Distinguished Lecturer by her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, into whose Hall of Fame she has also been inducted.


Lance Irving: National Program Director, Leopold Conservation Award

The Leopold Conservation Award in Kansas

Lance took the helm of Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award Program in 2016 after more than 15 years of experience in the outdoor sporting goods industry, and prior to that as a professional wilderness hunting and fishing guide. As chief sales and marketing officer at two outdoor manufacturing companies, Lance became a recognized leader in the industry for successfully identifying market needs and expanding the customer base by focusing on clearly defining a brand message and forming strategic partnerships. His work has been profiled in trade publications and television programs, and he has been honored with several high profile sales and marketing awards.

Lance has helped lead the Leopold Conservation Award program to an increased number of presenting states, an increase in media attention and recognition of the recipients from many facets of the Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Conservation sectors. Lance is a strong advocate of finding the commonality of interests between different groups and enabling land stewards to advocate for conservation through their stories.

Howard K. Vincent, President and CEO: Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever

Partnerships Drive Mission

Howard originally came from Duluth, Minnesota where he graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a Bachelor of Accounting degree in 1979. He worked in public accounting for 7 years including his time with the national accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick where he was the Supervisor in charge of Business Advisory Services for the Twin Cities area.

He came to Pheasants Forever (PF) in 1987 as their first Director of Finance. He has also held the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer before PF’s National Board of Directors appointed him President and CEO in January 2000. In his time with PF, it has grown from a $1 million to an $90 million dollar organization with 750 chapters in 40 states and 150,000 members. PF also continues to have an efficiency rating of 90+% and has been rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator for six consecutive years.
Howard is a National Board of Director of the Wildlife Management Institute, the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, and served two terms as a Member of the Wildlife Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. This Council gave direction and guidance to the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture on national conservation and hunting related issues.
Most recently Howard has been recognized as a finalist for the Beretta/SCI Conservation Leadership Award for 2018. This Leadership Award honors those unique individuals that represent the ultimate embodiment of the hunter-conservationist philosophy and demonstrate a lifetime of commitment to wildlife conservation and education.
Howard and his wife Wendy have been married for 38 years and live in White Bear Lake, Minnesota where he enjoys chasing the wily ringneck with his two sons, Marco and Ian.