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  • Interviews

    Dennis Muchmore

    MUCC Executive Director

    • How did you get to this point? Both personally and professionally.
    • I started out teaching high school and gravitated towards politics within the Michigan Education Association, and came to work in Lansing for the Michigan Legislature 35 yrs ago and I've been here ever since. One position, as it often happens in politics, has led to another one. Till 2002, I worked directly with the Legislature and then I took a little hiatus working for a search company in Chicago called DHR International, which is the 5th largest in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed that for five years but then I got a chance to get back in the Lansing scene and took the opportunity with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs in 2007.
    • Has your specialty or your interests always been on conservation or did it develop over the course of your career?
    • Well, it's kind of developed over the course of the career. In fact, one of the advantages that I have that a lot of people don't have is, that for many years, I represented up to 100 clients and those clients had all kinds of interests. My specialty was originally in tax related activities, but it's gravitated over the years into agriculture and from agriculture into conservation and from conservation into the kinds of things we do now which are mostly policy driven-that's basically my background. So it's been an evolution of sorts. I know a lot about a lot of things on the surface level but, for some issues that require a lot more depth, I just have to yield to some people that have a lot more depth than I do.
    • So you say it requires a lot of policy dealings. Where would these fit in a typical day?
    • Last week a typical day would have been: talking to a legislator at 9 in the morning; having a lunch meeting at 10; meeting with the director of the Department of Natural Resources at 10:30; and having a follow up meeting with the former director of the Department and the deputy director for policy [at the MUCC]; taking a short lunch; returning to work on internal matters such as bylaws, revisions, and our internal issues such as our magazine production and internet website; and then, in the late afternoon, attending a board meeting on one of the corporate boards I'm on; and finally making my way home at 8:30.
    • .
    • So lots of meetings. You also mentioned a website-can you tell me more about it?
    • Well, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs has it's own website. It's kind of a standard website and is designed for members and member benefits and those kinds of activities. We're developing a new website, an interactive one, geared toward hunters, anglers, and those who want to use the great outdoors as a more proactive type of activity. It'll probably come out in November with some streaming video and a lot of interactive things for not only adults, but also their kids.
    • What about the magazine?
    • The Michigan Outdoors Magazine is probably the premier kind in its category for states in the country. It's a 65 page magazine that comes out 10 times a year with a couple of special issues thrown in, that basically encourages people to keep up with not only the activities of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, but also things like hunting as well.
    • So is it a subscription magazine?
    • It is, but if you become a member of the MUCC, you automatically get the digital version online and, if you want the hardcover version, it costs an additional $20 dollars for the printing and processing.
    • What would you say the number one purpose of what you do is? Or what's your favorite part?
    • The favorite thing I do right now is working on The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board and how that relates to conservation. I think it's a very productive agency and all the things it does are very positive and proactive; they're designed to ensure that local communities and counties and recreation organizations and the state itself has sufficient resources to expand, not only our parks, but also our recreation areas in the state.
    • Where do you see yourself and your career going or do you feel you've reached where you belong?
    • I don't think anybody ever reaches the position where they belong. People are always striving to reach better positions and be more creative and do other things in their life-I'm no different than them. As an organization, we're like any other nonprofit in this economy, but we're doing what we can to keep up with the changes in society, especially with things like the website and its new features.
    • So what's your role in both the new features and just in the clubs in general?
    • Well I'm the conductor of the orchestra. I've got people who are exceptional and capable in policy and communications and, frankly, a very interested and involved executive committee and a board of directors. I think that the opportunity for the organization is there for anyone who wants to step up and provide some leadership for the organization internally, whether that's me or someone else.
    • You mentioned some very capable people. Is there anyone in particular who you work with outside your organization?
    • You find a great deal of help and support from several of our clubs. They're at the cutting edge of education and programming. I think, in this state, we have some extremely capable public officials who are very interested in the kinds of things we're trying to do and progressing with budgets that are over their head too. Certainly, the director of the Department of Natural Resources, Becky Humphrey, is just an exceptional person. We can all have disagreements with what people in the Department come up with, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are all very immersed in the issues that we're concerned with and they're going to be just terrific to work with in the future.
    • Any closing remarks for the future?
    • Not really. I think the most important thing for government officials working on recreation is to focus on the families. Kids need to learn more about the outdoors.
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