Carrol Henderson is a hero for Minnesota wildlife, and for us. That was recognized this past spring when he received a national award previously given to Rachel Carson, Stewart Udalll, Lady Bird Johnson, Roger Tory Peterson, Edward O. Wilson, Ding Darling (Ducks Unlimited), Walt Disney, and Minnesota’s Sigurd Olson, among others.
Henderson received the Frances K. Hutchinson Medal from the Garden Club of America. It is “awarded to figures of national importance for distinguished service to conservation.” It is a high honor, obviously. And well deserved.
Henderson has been supervisor of the DNR non-game wildlife program since 1977. In a career now approaching 40 years, he was instrumental in restoration of several of our threatened and/or diminishing wildlife species — Bald Eagles, Eastern Bluebirds, River Otters, American White Pelicans, Peregrine Falcons, and Trumpeter Swans. All enjoy stable and in some cases growing populations because of Carrol. He got behind the projects and pushed.
The non-game wildlife checkoff on your state income tax form, allowing you to contribute to support of non-game efforts — that was Henderson’s idea. It has raised $30 million since it began. Ten other states now use similar programs.
He is author of five books for the Department of Natural Resources, all intended to make your wildlife efforts easier. Perhaps you own his “Woodworking for Wildlife” or “Landscaping for Wildlife.” Both are essential guides for building nest boxes and bird feeders, and for choosing and using native plants in your yard and garden. Sale of these books has raised $300,000 in royalties for the non-game program. More than 250,000 have been purchased. He also has written 12 other wildlife books intended to “inspire conservation at home and abroad,” according to an article honoring Henderson in the July-August issue of the “Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, the DNR’s magazine.
The wildlife cams — eagle cam, falcon cam, and others — the live feeds that so many of us watch in spring as the birds mate and raise chicks — those too were his idea. Henderson has touched our lives in many ways. We probably can’t give him another medal, but we should say a big thank you for all he has done for Minnesota wildlife and for us.