The End of an Era
BY BRUCE HALLMAN, ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION SPECIALIST, NEOSHO NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY
A smiling Dave Hendrix celebrates his career with the Service. Credit Bruce Hallman, USFWS
Back in 1990, Dave arrived in Neosho to try to make sense of a facility in disarray. His superiors knew he was looking for a leadership role, they suggested that he come here, and they sure knew what they were doing! Anxious to have a fresh start (and one with less snow than in Michigan and closer to his home of Louisiana), he jumped at the opportunity. Addressing the turmoil that existed in a hatchery in flux, he exercised his leadership right from the start – getting personnel and practices aligned with his vision of quality and service.
Only one current worker is still around to remember those days, long-time biologist Jeff Messens. Everyone else that works here was hand-picked by Dave to join his team and help the hatchery attain the greatness that now is so apparent. Since his arrival 26 years ago, the raceways have been permanently enclosed, two large sturgeon buildings were constructed, ponds were renovated, grounds revitalized and of course, the wonderful visitor center designed and completed.
If you know anything about manager Hendrix, though, the accomplishments he most cherishes are the positive encounters and many relationships developed over the years. His friendly outlook has spread to all operations and has become apparent in the public fishing events and open house feeling that we maintain year-round. Whether meeting Dave for the first time or seeing him again, he always makes you feel important and cared about. And as his employee for the past four years, I can assure you he treats all under his charge with respect and care as well. He will certainly leave a sizable void when he’s gone!
Friends and co-workers made Dave's retirement luncheon very special as there was even a Dave Hendrix cake! Credit: Bruce Hallman, USFWS
We will surely miss him, and all wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement. Assistant manager Roderick May will take over the reins for at least the next 120 days until the official process to name his replacement is complete. And all eyes will look ahead to the next era, one hopeful of even bigger and better things for this, the oldest operating federal fish hatchery in America.