Life aquatic

Mizzou announces a new Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems.

trout in water
Source: Adobe Stock.

Published on Show Me Mizzou Sept. 7, 2023
Story by Kelsey Allen, BA, BJ ’10

Every Missourian holds a water story, woven by the state’s lakes, rivers and streams. From childhood adventures to serene escapes, these aquatic havens forge connections that run as deep as the currents themselves. But these waters are more than just a backdrop for stories — they are fragile ecosystems that demand stewardship.

The University of Missouri, in collaboration with the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), established an Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems within the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) to train the next generation of environmental scientists, researchers and conservationists and serve as a national center of research, knowledge and best management practices impacting fisheries, wildlife, wetlands and aquatic systems.

On September 7, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved its new name, the Johnny Morris Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems, established through a public-private partnership in March. Morris founded Bass Pro Shops in 1972 by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father’s store. Today, Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company.

“Through this valuable partnership, our students will have access to real-world educational opportunities that will greatly enhance their learning and overall experience,” says Christopher Daubert, vice chancellor and CAFNR dean. While MU researchers study fishery management, native aquatic species, and water quality issues, for example, students will be prepared to find solutions to the biggest conservation challenges through coursework, internships and cooperative education programs with the MDC. “These kinds of educational experiences make our graduates stand out from the crowd in the workforce,” Daubert says.

The Morris Institute is made possible through a $1.7 million gift from an anticipated $30 million endowment held by MCHF. The initial investment will allow MU to attract and hire distinguished aquatic conservation-focused scholars and integrate areas of study that often have been addressed separately, creating a national model for public-private partnerships that advance sustainable conservation and management of fisheries, wetlands and other aquatic systems.

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