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UM Board of Curators approves naming of “Johnny Morris Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems”


Christian Basi

John L. Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, recognized for his unparalleled contributions to conservation.

Sept. 7, 2023

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri Board of Curators today approved the naming of the Johnny Morris Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems, established through a public-private partnership in March 2023.  

The institute — a partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources — was made possible through an MCHF endowment supported by a leadership gift from Johnny Morris.  MCHF has a mission to enhance the conservation of Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife resources. 

“Johnny Morris is an entrepreneur and conservationist on the grandest scale,” said Michael Williams, chair of the UM Board of Curators. “He truly is one of our nation’s leaders in conservation, and the Morris Institute will continue his work ensuring that Missouri’s natural habitats and outdoors remain healthy and abundant for future generations to enjoy.”

The institute and public-private partnership benefit the entire state by cultivating conservation professionals through workforce development, research and public policy. Specifically, the institute:

  • Provides future generations access to coursework focused on fisheries, wetlands and aquatic systems with an emphasis on research, academics and service.
  • Builds regional and national partnerships to collaboratively address water issues.
  • Conducts key, cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research.
  • Develops and supports public policy.
  • Communicates knowledge gained through an array of platforms.
  • Builds a pipeline of talent to benefit conservation agencies and organizations across the country.

“The Morris Institute was borne out of a strong partnership with Missourians who love the outdoors and our state,” said Mun Choi, University of Missouri president. “Johnny Morris is committed to conserving wildlife and habitat, and the Morris Institute at MU will carry his legacy forward as a national center of research, knowledge, and best management practices impacting fisheries, wildlife, wetlands and aquatic systems.”

In 1972, Morris founded Bass Pro Shops 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. Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors.

Learn more about the institute on CAFNR’s School of Natural Resources’ website and at Show Me Mizzou.

Reviewed 2023-09-07