Certainly the world has changed dramatically since the last iteration of this newsletter. In March, I was at the North American conference in Omaha, Nebraska when I first saw widespread coverage of the forthcoming Coronavirus pandemic, and at the time, none of us saw the dramatic business and life changes that it would bring about in very short order. Similarly, the ongoing events following the George Floyd case and others have shown a public hunger for change in the areas of social justice and equality, sooner rather than later.
Change is not a new thing, nor is it bad. While times may be stressful, it is these times that most often lead to progress–in the current context, whether it is social progress, developments in healthcare, or new lessons in how to do business most safely and efficiently. While we often look to state and national leaders in these times, the truth is that they can only do so much; the majority of the change actually must come from each and every one of us—whether it is in how we treat each other, look out for each other’s well-being, or learn to do our jobs in different ways. Through all of this, I must say that I am very grateful and impressed by each of your reactions to our current surroundings. This agency has remained highly functional; continuing to deliver our services and afford the public outdoor opportunities when there were not many other options for them. You have reacted quickly to a changing work dynamic and done so in a virtually seamless manner, and remained flexible as things have progressed. And the agency has an excellent health record coming through this time. I know that this has not been easy, but on all of those fronts, I can tell you that other organizations across the country have not been so fortunate, and our success here is a direct credit to each of you.
As you all know, we will be undergoing our own change on July 1; to be sure, a small one given everything happening around the country, but nevertheless an important one to this agency. Our new name, the Department of Wildlife Resources, is intended to make us and what we do more recognizable to the public, who today are often unfamiliar with traditional terminology. To be sure, many other efforts will be necessary, but in its own way, this simple name change will hopefully help us reach all Virginians, attract new constituents, and, most importantly, simply help us in our mission of promoting wildlife and outdoor recreation.
Each of you are likely to be asked about the new name from time to time, whether by the general public, constituents, or simply friends and family. It is important for all of them to know that they are included in what the Department does; no matter their interest, we want all Virginians to experience the opportunities that we are so passionate about. That includes new audiences, but also those who have supported this agency historically, who can expect the same levels of service that they have experienced in the past. While it is a big number, we truly want to be a known and appreciated agency to all 8.5 million Virginians.
Again, thank you for all of your efforts during this very unique time. Continue to watch out for your health and that of those around you, listen to the ongoing conversations in an understanding and empathetic manner, and take some time to yourself to get outdoors during this time of the year.