Hunter, angler, and conservationist leaves lasting legacy
In April, the Federation lost a friend as well as a former board member and president, Mitchell Parks. His passion for conservation propelled a number of good works for Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources.
Born in Chattanooga, Mitchell live in Nashville and was a lifelong Tennessean. An avid hunter and angler, Mitchell was always engaged in the outdoors.
He was an active leader in the Nashville Sportsman Club and he joined the Federation as the first African-American member of our board of directors. Six years later, he was elected to serve as president of the Federation.
He was also the first African-American wildlife commissioner appointed to what is today the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission.
To these roles, Mitchell brought much-needed diversity and a new perspective to wildlife management and sportsmen’s issues.
Early on in his career, Mitchell had a vision for a center that would bring together sportsmen and spread conservation awareness across the state. He persisted through fundraising obstacles, numerous failed building sites, and a car wreck that cost him both legs.
His dream came to fruition with the creation of Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s headquarters in Nashville, where we still operate today.
“Mitchell’s legacy is evident in the work we do every day. He was gracious with his time, expertise, and philanthropic heart,” said Kendall McCarter, chief development officer of the Federation. “We are fortunate to have his mark on our organization.”
In addition to helping secure a home base for the Federation’s work, Mitchell was a trailblazer for conservation policy.
“Mitchell always tried to do the right thing for the right reason and honor the public trust that holds our wildlife and natural resources. And he would stand firm on his decision,” said Michael Butler, CEO of the Federation. “That kind of conviction is admirable and when you’re one of the few minority voices in the room, it’s indispensable.”
He worked alongside fellow Federation executive director, Tony Campbell, to speak with legislators on conservation issues facing the state. His efforts helped lay important groundwork for the Federation’s policy work as we know it today.
“Any organization would be fortunate to have Mitchell as a partner. I was blessed to count him as a friend of the Federation and of my own,” said Tony.
The Federation extends our deepest condolences to Mitchell’s family and friends. Mitchell, you will be missed.