Friday, October 26, 2012

Education? High school good enough to lead Game and Fish at $118,000 a year

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 6:41 AM

As we'd predicted earlier in the week, career wildlife officer/supervisor Mike Knoedl was tapped to head the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

The Commission had to waive its original requirements for a college degree for the hire. Knoedl has a high school diploma. The official news release puffed his resume a bit by citing his graduation from a course at the UALR Criminal Justice Institute, which provides in-service classes for law officers. (UPDATE: I'm informed this was a 140-hour Law Enforcement School of Supervision at the Criminal Justice Institute.)

Picky people will say that the hiring of a high school grad to lead a 600-employee agency for $118,000 a year doesn't send much of a supporting signal in a state devoting lottery millions and more to increasing our college-going and -graduating population. Knoedl addressed his qualifications with a Democrat-Gazette reporter yesterday.

“I’m not a fisheries biologist or a wildlife biologist, and I don’t have a teaching degree, but I have worked around them enough. ... I’ve worked on deer surveys, turkey surveys and quail surveys. I’ve helped fisheries personnel do population surveys on lakes. There are people out there who haven’t seen that side of me who wonder if I know in-depth biological stuff. No, I don’t, but do I understand and respect what they do? Yes.”

I'm no doctor, either, but I've seen a lot of them.

Arkansas could wish for a trained wildlife or fisheries biologist to lead the Game and Fish agency. We could wish for a leader with bright ideas about reversing the inexorable decline in hunting and fishing license holders thanks to American urbanization, video games and other cultural changes. We could wish for a leader who recognizes the outdoors as a place ideal not just for use of hooks and bullets, but cameras, hiking staffs and sharp eyes. We could hope for a sharp manager with accounting smarts and an eye for hiring the diverse professionals necessary for management of an agency with many sophisticated needs. Maybe we got that person. But a career in law enforcement and a high school diploma don't shout "QUALIFIED!" Unless, of course, you are talking about one of the most highly politicized agencies in state government, where being a good old boy is a whole lot more important than being a good old biologist.

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