MAFWA Directors’ Annual Meeting

MAFWA 2020 Save the Date

Change of Plans. More details will be forthcoming.

Given the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on state resources and public health, the MAFWA Executive Committee has made the decision to postpone the Midwest Directors’ Annual Meeting until October 5 – 8, 2020 at Custer State Park in South Dakota. Please mark your calendars to hold these October dates! MAFWA Board of Directors will continue to conduct their business meeting virtually on July 1. More details will be forthcoming

As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, please know that our priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all meeting participants. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. We are sending an attendee poll to collect feedback on whether attendees will be able to travel, and what their comfort level may be for attending a fall meeting.

Thank you for your continued support of MAFWA. We hope everyone is well and staying safe. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Kelly Hepler
MAFWA President

Please Join Us!

The 87th Midwest Directors’ Annual Meeting will be Monday, October 5 – Thursday, October 8, 2020 in Custer State Park.

PLEASE NOTE: the pattern shift. The President’s Welcome Reception will now be on Monday, as opposed to Sunday. Although a bit cooler in the fall, October is a beautiful time of year to explore the Black Hills of South Dakota!

The MAFWA Directors’ Meeting is for senior level management of natural resources professionals in the fields of wildlife and fisheries management, information and education, licensing and administration, law enforcement, and conservation engineering.

Quick Links:


This program schedule is subject to change; please check back for updates.

Dress Code: casual attire throughout the conference.

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Conference Registration Desk Open Creekside Lodge
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. MAFWA Executive Committee Creekside Lodge, Norbeck Room
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Welcome Reception
Relax and mingle with colleagues and enjoy South Dakota hospitality! There’s also time to experience the “History of Custer State Park” and film at the Custer State Park Visitor Center – a short walk from the Game Lodge.  Sponsored by Pheasants Forever; Remarks by Dave Nomsen

Creekside Lodge
8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Hospitality Suite Open Creekside Lodge
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Breakfast Buffet
Sponsored by National Wild Turkey Federation; Remarks by Ross Melinchuk

7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Conference Registration Desk Open Creekside Lodge
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Welcome to South Dakota!
  • Kelly Hepler, MAFWA President and South Dakota Director
  • Honor Guard and Pledge of Allegiance
Event Barn
8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. State Hot Topics
Facilitator: Kelly Hepler
Each state director will describe a recent agency challenge and response as a teaching moment.
10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Refreshment Break TBD
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) | Taniya Bethke
  • License Sale Opportunities and Challenges
  • Marketing to Diverse User Groups
  • Regulations and Barriers to Participation
  • Data Tracking Systems and Mapping Progress
  • Now what?
11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. National Archery in the School Program Update | Roy Grimes TBD
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Awards Luncheon
Sponsored by Ducks Unlimited and Canadian NAWMP Partners
Remarks by Mark Flaspohler and Tim Sopuck
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Director Panel Discussion with Q & A: Diversity, Inclusion, and Shifting Values: Building a Broader Base from the Inside Out
Facilitator: Taniya Bethke
2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Refreshment Break TBD
2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Working with Landowners | Facilitated by Tom Kirschenmann
Key Areas of Discussion:
  • Private Lands | Presented by Anna Kopp
  • Every Acre Counts | Presented by Kevin Robling
  • Landlocked Public Lands | Presented by Kevin Robling
  • Access (terrestrial and aquatic) | Presented by Mark Norton
  • Wildlife Damage Management Program | Presented by Keith Fisk
  • Nest Predator Bounty Program| Presented by Keith Fisk
4:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Director Group Photo TBD
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Afternoon Activities (pre-registration is required)
The following activities will be available to choose from: Fly Fishing, Lover’s Leap Hike, Lakeside Breather Legion Lake, Wildlife Jeep Tour
*If fly fishing, must purchase a 1 day non-resident fishing license.
*Click here for activity descriptions.
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Dinner Buffet
Sponsored by Sovereign Sportsman Solutions; Remarks by Eric Richey
8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Hospitality Room Creekside Lodge
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast Buffet
Sponsored by Archery Trade Association; Remarks by Dan Forster
7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Conference Registration Desk Open Creekside Lodge
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Managing and Taking Care of Public Lands
  • Game Production Areas Assessment | Presented by Paul Coughlin
  • SD Habitat Stamp | Presented by Kevin Robling
  • Aquatic Infrastructure Overview | Presented by Geno Adams
  • Riparian Stream Work | Presented by Jake Davis
  • Prescribed Fire Management and Preservation | Presented by Mark Hendrix
9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. AFWA State Contributions Program | Presented by Dean Smith, AFWA
Ducks Unlimited Update
9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Southern Wings | Presented by Deb Hahn, AFWA TBD
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Refreshment Break

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. AFWA Report
Presented by: Kelly Hepler, AFWA President
Ron Regan, AFWA Executive Director
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Federal Partners Session
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—Charlie Wooley, Region 3, Director
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—Noreen Walsh, Region 6, Director
  • U.S. Forest Service — Steve Kuennen, Region 9, Renewable Resource Director
  • USDA/APHIS-Wildlife Services—Jason Suckow, Western Region Director
  • USGS Midwest Climate Center—Olivia LeDee, Deputy Director
11:45 a.m. – Noon North American Non-Lead Partnership | Leland Brown, Oregon Zoo TBD
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch Buffet
Sponsored by Kalkomey Enterprises; Remarks by Mitch Strobl
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. MAFWA Committee Reports
Facilitator: Ollie Torgerson, MAFWA Executive Secretary
  • Climate Change
  • Deer and Wild Turkey
  • Feral Swine
  • Furbearers
  • Hunter and Angler Recruitment and Retention
  • Law Enforcement
  • Legal
  • Legal
  • National Conservation Needs
  • Private Lands
  • Public Lands
  • Wildlife Action Plan
  • Wildlife and Fish Health
2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Refreshment Break TBD
2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Protecting South Dakota’s Resources
  • Chronic Wasting Disease | Presented by Chad Switzer
  • Location and prediction tool | Presented by Russ Mason, Michigan State University
  • Aquatic Invasive Species | Presented by Mike Smith
  • Big Horn Sheep Pneumonia | Presented by Chad Lehman
  • White Nose Syndrome | Presented by Silka Kempema
  • Emerald Ash Borer | Presented by Travis Theilen
  • Mountain Pine Beetle | Presented by Mark Hendrix
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Tribal Relations and Partnerships | Arden Petersen and Ron Skates

  • Management of Shared Natural Resources
  • Memorandums of Understanding

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Afternoon Activities (pre-registration is required)
The following activities will be available to choose from: Mt. Coolidge Fire Lookout Tower Tour, Fly Fishing, Lakeside Breather Legion Lake, or Wildlife Jeep Tour.
*If fly fishing, must purchase a 1 day non-resident fishing license.
*Click here for activity descriptions.
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Dinner Buffet
Sponsored by Brandt Information Services; Remarks by Kelsey Hershey
8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Hospitality Suite Open TBD
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Breakfast Buffet

7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Conference Registration Desk Open Creekside Lodge
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MAFWA Business Meeting
  • Call to Order and Roll Call
  • Agenda Review
  • Approval of 2019 Annual Meeting Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report – Roger Luebbert
  • Audit Committee Report – Dale Garner (IA)
  • Contracted Audit Results—Kelly Hepler (SD)
  • Investments Committee Report – Jim Douglas (NE)
  • Bylaws Committee Report – Sara Parker Pauley (MO)
  • Resolutions Committee Report – Sara Parker Pauley (MO)
  • Awards Committee Report – Terry Steinwand (ND)
  • Executive Secretary’s Report – Ollie Torgerson
  • Approval of Affiliate Members – Ollie Torgerson
Old Business
  • Mid-Continent Monarch Strategy Report – Bill Moritz (MI)
  • National Wild Pheasant Plan Update – Scott Taylor
  • National Fish Habitat Initiative Update—Doug Nygren (KS)
  • Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference – Sara Parker Pauley (MO)
  • Midwest Landscape Initiative – Kelly Hepler (SD)
New Business
  • North American Non-Lead Partnership – Kelly Hepler (SD)
  • CWD Funding—John Fischer, WMI
  • 2020 Budget Approval – Roger Luebbert
Event Barn
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Refreshment Break

20:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MAFWA Business Meeting (CONTINUED)
Closing Comments by Kelly Hepler
Passing Gavel to Next State

Afternoon Activities: Tuesday and Wednesday (4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.)

The Custer State Park buffalo safari tour will take you trekking through the park in an open-air jeep in search of pronghorns, elk, turkey and buffalo. This guided tour will provide you with historical and educational facts about the park and wildlife. The tour will be available both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and will last about 1.5 hours. Maximum of 30 people each evening.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are known for their mountain lakes and fresh-water streams brimming with brook, brown and rainbow trout. This fly fishing experience will be unlike any other. Guides and equipment will be on site and available to those who participate in this adventure. This activity will be available both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Anyone participating in this activity MUST purchase a fishing license. A non-resident, one day fishing license costs $22. It is preferred that these be purchased ahead of attending the conference at The conference registration desk can also assist with purchasing these licenses on site.

Take advantage of some down time with the natural surroundings of Custer State Park at Legion Lake. A variety of watercrafts (canoes, kayaks, paddleboards) will be available on a first come, first served basis for two hours. During this time, guests can also enjoy lakeside patio viewing near the newly renovated restaurant and gift shop. Additionally, several hiking trails are nearby, including the Centennial Trail and the Badger Clark Historic Trail—and a one-mile leisure trail that circles the lake. This activity serves as a quiet lakeside retreat perfect for summer days. This activity will be available both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and is limited to 25 people each evening.

This guided hike will take you to the summit of Lover’s Leap and back. Guests will learn about the wildlife that use this riparian habitat, which is unique from the rest of the habitat within the park. Additionally, guests will learn about the park visitor services, staying relevant and updating the park’s information using current trends to attract the ever-changing visitor base. This hike will be approximately 3 miles long with a moderate rating for difficulty. This hike is available Tuesday evening only and is limited to 30 people.

Take a step back into time and learn about fire management in Custer State Park. This tour will provide you with the history of the fire towers in Custer State Park, as well as the fires that have shaped the landscape within the park’s boundary. Explore the lookout tower and learn the tools that a fire look-out uses to spot fires. This tour is available Wednesday evening only and is limited to 20 people.


Full Conference Registration includes Welcome Reception on Monday; Breakfast and Coffee Breaks daily; Lunch and Dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday; Single Day Registration includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Refreshment Breaks on the day that you attend.

Registration Options Before 9/1 After 9/1
Full Conference Registration $375 $400
One-Day Registration (Monday) $200
One-Day Registration (Tuesday) $200
One-Day Registration (Wednesday) $100
Sunday Welcome Reception Only $35
Guest/Spouse Registration $150
Children – Ages 15 and Under FREE

How to register:

Overnight Accommodations & Area Info: 

Please note: this section will be updated soon. Check back for updates

Click here for State Game Lodge Map

Custer State Park:
Please note, all vehicles entering the park will need to purchase a Park Entrance License. Fees: A temporary (1-7 days) license is $20 per vehicle. An annual park entrance license is $30. You can purchase a license at the Main Gate when you enter the park, or at the Lodge front desk.

Getting Here:
We are approximately 50 minutes from Rapid City Regional Airport, 45 minutes from downtown Rapid City, and 20 minutes from the town of Custer. For the quickest route, we encourage use of Google Maps vs GPS; as your GPS may take you the longer (but more scenic!) route, down Iron Mountain Road. From Rapid City Regional Airport to State Game Lodge, 13389 US HWY 16A in Custer is approximately 45 min (36.5 mi) via SD-79 S.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks will provide shuttle service to and from the airport for those who need it and request it – there will be an option on the conference registration form to indicate your arrival and departure information. Otherwise, rental car options are available at the airport.

Overnight accommodations will be available at the Creekside Lodge, State Game Lodge as well as a handful of cabins at a discounted group rate of $160/ night plus tax. The group rate is for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday only. To make a reservation, and get more information on the room types available please call (888) 875-0001 and be sure to mention you’re with the MAFWA group block. Additionally, you can contact for information or questions. Currently there is no availability for Saturday arrival (6/27/2020).

Also note: This is peak summer season for the park and rooms are limited. If you’d like to extend your stay, you’ll need to make a separate reservation for additional nights and may possibly have to change rooms. Space is limited and regular rates will apply. Call Reservations at (888) 875-0001 or check out availability and rates on their website at:

Federal Per Diem:
A limited number of rooms will be available at the prevailing government per diem rate for those who are eligible and provide a valid government ID upon check-in. The current rate is $129/night. In order to receive the government rate, please contact and a reservation will be made for you.
Please note: this rate is only available on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited.

Sponsor & Exhibitor Opportunities: 

Sponsor opportunities are available at the 87th Annual MAFWA Directors’ Meeting!

The Annual Directors’ Meeting provides a forum for conservation leadership and brings together senior level professionals and key decision makers in the fields of fisheries and wildlife management, outreach and education, licensing and administration, and law enforcement and conservation. The event offers educational sessions and updates on current issues in the field and pertinent topics to the agencies.

We hope you’ll join us as a valued supporter and be part of this networking and educational opportunity. 

Thank you to our 2020 Meeting sponsors!