Maurice Jackson and Mamie Parker to Speak at Rural Life Conference

Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

rlcspeakersMaurice Jackson, Family and Community Fishing Program Coordinator with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will deliver the S.A. Haley Memorial Lecture at the 63rd Annual Rural Life Conference, Friday, Feb. 1, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Dr. Mamie Parker, president of Ma Parker and Associates and an executive coach and facilitator, will be the luncheon speaker.

Jackson was the first African-American fisheries biologist for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. He was a hatchery supervisor and an aquatic education biologist. He worked to create Perry Lakes Barton Beach preserve which encompasses 700 acres and provides access to one of the most diverse river systems for aquatic life in North America, the Cahaba River.

He introduced a new hormone that is now being used in Alabama to spawn Gulf Coast strain striped bass. It cut the time spent producing these fish by 50 percent. He and a colleague implemented Alabama’s first interactive hands-on outdoor classroom called Creek Kids which introduced thousands of children to stream surveying, biological indices and watershed concepts.

In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed it one of the most innovative programs in the country. In 2017, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies awarded him the Diversity and Inclusion Award for Outreach and Education, and in 2018 he received the American Fisheries Society’s Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award in Aquatic Education.

Dr. Parker was the first African American female chief of staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was a fish and wildlife biologist and executive in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington DC. The Governor of Arkansas enshrined her into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame honoring her as the first Arkansan to serve as head of fisheries in this country. The president of the United States awarded her the Presidential Rank Award for her work in and building powerful partnerships on the Farm Bill and with other organizations such as the American Pharmaceutical Association and Wal-Mart to promote a national campaign for the smart disposal of medicine and unwanted aquarium fish and plants.

Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, the Steve Harvey show and in Dudley Edmundson’s “Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places.” She personally mentors minority women and people of color in her profession and is co-author of the American Fisheries Society’s most recently released book “The Future of Fisheries.”

Both Jackson and Parker are alumni of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Jackson has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees, and Parker, a bachelor’s degree in biology. Her advanced degrees are from the University of Wisconsin. Both credit adults in their lives for instilling in them a love of the outdoors and fishing; Jackson, his great-grandfather and Parker, her mother. Dr. Parker is a previous Haley Memorial Lecturer.

The Rural Life Conference registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The opening session begins at 8:30 a.m. The conference features 17 workshops, exhibits and posters. The conference theme is “Working Together to Strengthen Farmers, Families and Communities.”

Registration is requested of everyone even though the conference is free to farmers, ranchers, homemakers and retirees. The cost to professionals and agency personnel is $75. To preregister, if you have special needs or for more information, contact Cassandra Hawkins-Byrd at (870) 575-8123 or

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