The fourth reunion was hosted in Spearfesh South Dakota. By 2002, members were ready to also help celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Service’s Fishery Resources Program in conserving America’s fisheries, attendance swelled to over 200 retirees and spouses from all parts of the U.S. The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery was host to the celebration recognizing the Fisheries Program’s proud past.
"Boy, has it been a long time,” was the common opening comment as former colleagues greeted one another at the 4th annual reunion of Fish & Wildlife Service retirees. Over 200 retirees and spouses from all parts of the U.S. gathered in Spearfish, South Dakota, May 17 – 19 to meet and greet former co-workers and old friends and to help celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Service’s Fishery Resources Program in conserving America’s fisheries. The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery was host to the celebration recognizing the Fisheries Program’s proud past.
Events began Friday evening with a hootenanny / icebreaker hosted by the D. C. Booth Society, the local partner and support group at the historic hatchery. It featured a local microbrew and a wide range of hor d’ouvers, including pheasant and buffalo. The gathering was indoors and poolside and local musicians were joined by some of the retirees. Joining the retirees gathering were many members of the Service’s Deputy Regional Directors, Assistant Fishery Resources Regional Directors, Technology Center Directors, and Broodstock Hatchery Managers, all of whom had business meetings in Spearfish earlier in the week.With these folks, Hatchery staff and event volunteers, members of the Booth Society, over 300 celebrants in all attended.
After a short business session and workshops on Saturday morning, it was on to the D.C. Booth Historic NFH for the celebration events. The completed exhibit of an early 20th century fish stocking rail car was available for viewing. A beautiful full size bronze statue titled ‘Spring Stocking’ was dedicated and unveiled. It depicts two fish culturists emptying a milk can containing fish into a running stream and is a memorial to early fish hatchery workers. Lunch was a fish fry in Ruby’s garden at the historic Booth home During the afternoon, guided tours and workshops were available to showcase the beautifully presented D. C. Booth Historic NFH and its museum.
A Taste of South Dakota was the theme of the banquet. It began with wine tasting, compliments of the Booth Society, and a 12 year-old local prodigy playing the piano leading into dinner that again featured pheasant and buffalo. A thoroughly enjoyable comedian / musician entertainer kept the throng of over 300 in stitches. The evening ended with the showing of the video Arctic Dance, the life and love story of Olaus and Mardy Murie. He was an early pioneer Service biologist and artist in Alaska who would later become president of the Wilderness Society, and she became a passionate voice for the wilderness that helped gain passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that ultimately lead to 79.5 million acres of new refuge lands.
The weekend of non-stop visitation didn’t end until late Sunday. After the early bird walks and fishing trips, Sunday morning activities included a prayer and memorial service for our
departed colleagues. Attendees had the opportunity to remember those who they had shared other enjoyments. A bus tour of the Black Hills including Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and a wildlife drive through Custer State Park completed this 4th annual get together of retired Fish & Wildlife Service colleagues.
Comments from the retirees and active Service staff were universal in their praise of the success of this event. Rick Lemon, Director of the National Conservation Training Center commented, “When I walked into the area Friday night with all those retirees gathered in groups all over the place, I just had to stop for a moment to make sure I arrived at the right place and then let it all sink in. This is just what we and the Heritage Committee have been working for.”
Kudos go to D.C. Booth Historic NFH Center Director Steve Brimm and his staff and the D.C. Booth Society and their cadre of volunteers for their Herculean efforts in organizing this event. It was only with this effective level of effort and commitment for this historic event that the enjoyment by so many was possible. In a greeting message from Booth Society President Arlene Hindbjorgen, she hoped we would have a great time -- boy did we ever!!
See the list of Registered Retirees and Guests at the 2002 Reunion
If you have photos or remembrances of this reunion, please contact us at web@FWSRetirees.org