When I got word Wednesday that Sara Parker Pauley has been named the new director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, it brought back memories of a wonderful spring day in 2013.

It was opening day of the turkey season, and I tagged along with Pauley, then director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, to get a story and photos.

She didn’t disappoint. Hunting in Laclede County, we set up on a timbered hillside where we were soon surrounded by turkeys.

Booming calls echoed through the woods from all directions as gobblers sounded off. Soon, Pauley called one of those big toms within 40 yards and she dropped the bird with a single shot.

I remember her enthusiasm as she said, “This was one of the most awesome hunts I’ve ever had. We’ve been out here for two hours and there weren’t five minutes when we didn’t have birds talking to us.”

I relate that story because I think it’s important that our leaders be actively involved with the outdoors recreation they are regulating.

I’ve seen too many times when fish and wildlife management has been led by upper-echelon brass that merely gave lip service to their own participation in fishing, hunting and other outdoors sports, kind of like a politician kissing babies.

Parker isn’t this way. She has hunted turkeys for more than 20 years, she enjoys fishing, and her husband, Scott, is one of the top bass pros in Missouri. She can identify with her constituency, which is important.

She also is an effective administrator, leading the Missouri Department of Natural Resources since 2010. She replaces Bob Ziehmer, who resigned in July to work in a management role for Bass Pro Shops.

Pauley has served as an executive committee and board member for the Conservation Federation of Missouri. She is a native of Columbia, Mo., and graduated from the University of Missouri.

Please join me in congratulating Pauley on her new job. The Missouri Conservation Commission got it right when they selected her.