Clint Trammel and the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame

This article is a personal reflection, written by Al Sample, Chair of the Forest Stewards Guild board of directors.

The Missouri Conservation Commission recently voted to induct Clint Trammel, a member of the Forest Stewards Guild founding board, into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place on April 25 at Clint’s beloved Pioneer Forest in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. This is a recognition well earned, and an honor that will be a lasting legacy to Clint’s contributions to the science and practice of sustainable forestry as a practicing forester, as a teacher and mentor, and as a leader in the forestry profession in Missouri and nationally.

I came to know Clint as a fellow founding board member for the Forest Stewards Guild. Then, as now, there was a need for a professional society of practicing foresters committed to gaining a deeper understanding of the ecological processes and functioning of native, natural forests, and managing those forests in ways that are highly economically productive while still sustaining wildlife, watershed protection, biological diversity, and other important values of an ecologically well-functioning forest ecosystem. These were the values that Clint stood for throughout his life as a professional forester. The fact that he helped create a national organization that will continue to teach and inculcate these values will benefit many aspiring young foresters in this and future generations. 

Clint was at his best as a teacher and mentor when he was on the land itself, guiding what eventually became hundreds of students, educators, and fellow professionals through Pioneer Forest. He was a practitioner of the Socratic method, challenging students with questions about what they were observing in the forest, what that signified ecologically about the forest’s past and present, and what this suggested to them might be the best way to sustainably manage that forest. To spend a day in the field with Clint at Pioneer Forest was to come away being able to observe more carefully, reason more critically, and act more responsibly in making forest management decisions that would be as sound for the long term as they were in the near term.

Part of Clint’s legacy will be the signature he left on the land at Pioneer Forest after decades as a master conservationist and forester. A century from now, a keen observer with a practiced ecological eye will still see Clint’s fine hand at work in the vitality, diversity, and beauty of the forest he left behind. But because of the many students he mentored along the way, his influence will long be seen as well in the sustainable management of other forests throughout the central hardwood region, and across the country.

Perhaps Clint’s greatest legacy as a conservationist was this gift he has left to those of us who follow. A way of thinking differently about the forests we protect, conserve, and manage. He gave us greater knowledge, but also a greater sense of humility and a measure of respect for the complexity, intricacies, and subtleties of the natural systems we are asked to steward for a time. And this may be his most substantial and lasting contribution of all.

I’m so grateful to the Missouri Conservation Commission for honoring Clint with a place in the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. It is a recognition and acknowledgement that he would have received modestly, but treasured greatly.

Thank you to Greg Iffrig and Laurie Drey for the photos in this article.