Last Thursday, Oct. 8, Mike was honored by the Texas Section of the Society for Range Management with their highest award--Outstanding Contribution to Range Management. Finally! Plenty of other awards were given for "Best This, That or the Other Thing", but this is an overall award--for someone who is generally recognized statewide as constantly and continually working to improve range management.
The evening was made even more special when Joseph Fitzsimons, TPWD's former Commission Chairman, family friend, and owner of the San Pedro Ranch down in Dimmit County showed up to speak. Mike was the ranch manager at the San Pedro for 14 years before going to work at the Texas Department of Agriculture. Mike is still indirectly involved with ranch wildlife management on the San Pedro, and the ranch will always hold a special place in his heart.
The best part for Mike was when Joseph brought in his surprise guest--his father, Hugh Fitzsimons. Mr. Hugh was the person who hired Mike originally. Joseph and his father had been on "the outs" for a number of years, so it was gratifying to see the two of them together. There in the middle of all the recognition for Mike was Mike still looking out for the best interests of others! But that's the way Mike is.
Mike isn't the kind of person who stands up and shouts "Look at me! Look what I did!" Mike's great talent is in bringing the right people together. Mention any resource related topic and Mike will more than likely say "The person you need to talk to is..., because they've been doing...." Mike brings diverse interests together and helps them see what they have in common, facilitates win-win solutions, and really doesn't seek credit for anything. As long as the work gets done Mike doesn't care who gets the credit for doing it. I guess that's why it's SO nice to see him finally getting the long-overdue recognition he richly deserves. All of us who work in the natural resources arena would like to think we're making a difference. We'd like to think that the resource and the habitat is better off because of us. Few of us however, can really say it is. Mike can say it, but of course he won't.
Gotta share a quote from Joseph's sister, Pam:
From: Pamela Howard
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 6:35 PM
To: Nelle, Steve - San Angelo, TX
Subject: Thoughts...Mike McM
Steve, If it isn’t too late, I will add a short tribute to Mike. It is wonderful for you to honor him with this award ! I can only supplement the many ( some humorous, I am sure) reflections about Mike by saying that he was, is, and always shall be, foremost a teacher. His knowledge about wildlife, range management, biology, and rural life is prodigious , but it is his gift of sharing that defines him. Although he could be content as the expert in all these fields, he chooses instead to unselfishly share ANYTHING he knows with anyone sincerely interested in the topic. He wants you to be as excited as he is to see the rare flycatcher or know the tick’s natural predators. How many times have we all heard him begin a sentence with, “Did you know….” then go onto describe a little known fact of wildlife biology. He is a gift – honestly- and the whole natural world will be clapping along with us. Take care, have a wonderful time, and I wish I could be there.
Best to all,
Yup, that's my Mike! I love him and I'm proud of him.