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Meet Steven Harrison and Mark McHenry, the newest Missouri Conservation commissioners

A longtime parks and recreation worker, and a dentist have joined the four-member Missouri Conservation Commission

Dr. Steven Harrison, a dental specialist from Rolla, and Mark McHenry, a business consultant from Kansas City, were appointed to the commission by Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month. 

Both men are expected to serve six-year unpaid terms with the commission responsible for appointing the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) director, tackling the budget, and facilitating other decisions. 

Harrison and McHenry join Don Bedell and Barry Orscheln (both Republicans) on the commission; they replace David Murphy and Marilynn Bradford, whose terms expired in July. 

Read on to learn more about the two newest commissioners

Steven Harrison

Harrison is a dental specialist with a passion for hunting and fishing — so much so that he spends his free time teaching younger people the trade. He has a family tradition of fishing at Montauk State Park in Dent County. 

Avid angler, hunter, trapper, and farmer Dr. Steven Harrison of Rolla (PROVIDED/MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION).

Harrison said he learned to fish as soon as he could walk and particularly enjoys trout fishing. 

“I am passionate about helping kids learn about and come to love hunting and fishing,” Harrison said. “I have been a mentor for young hunters for many years, and mentoring young hunters is more important than ever. We are seeing declining numbers of young hunters all across the country, including in Missouri where we are actually doing better than most states.” 

“If we are going to preserve hunting, we must focus on attracting new hunters and providing quality land to hunt and fish and just enjoy the outdoors.” 

Harrison and his wife live on a cattle farm in Rolla. Aside from the work he puts in at his dental practice, Harrison spends significant time outdoors where he’s gained skills he plans to bring to the commission, he said. 

“I live the outdoor life everyday and have been active in conservation my whole life,” Harrison said. 

Harrison is a consultant for the American Board of Orthodontics and the former president of the Edward H. Angle Society. Additionally, he is a founding board member of the Champions of Rolla Education. 

He has a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Missouri S&T, graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School, and has a Master of Science degree in orthodontics from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. 

Mark McHenry

McHenry’s love of the outdoors has influenced much in his life — from his choice of schooling to his more than four decade career in parks and recreation. His first job, he said, was interning for the county conservation commission when he was still in high school, tasked with creating habitats, cleaning trash, and trapping wildlife. 

Retired director of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, nature lover, hiker, and cyclist Mark McHenry (PROVIDED/MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION).

He later moved to Kansas City where he began to work for its Parks and Recreation Department; he would eventually lead the department as its director from 2003 to 2018. Now, McHenry works as a business consultant for Ochsner Hare & Hare, the Olsson Studio, a landscape architecture firm.

“I’ve always been an outdoors person,” McHengry said. “Growing up in central Iowa, we were ‘free-range’ kids who spent our summers and after school running around in the woods and learning a lot about nature.” 

He said he spent summers at a family cabin on a lake “swimming and fishing, and catching frogs and turtles and snakes in the marsh, and just messing around outside and in the woods.” 

Aside from his love of the outdoors, McHenry brings his urban perspective to the commission. 

“I am a voice for urban conservation,” he said. “Our challenge is to both bring nature and conservation into our urban areas. And to get folks from our urban areas out into rural nature, like at MDC conservation areas and other wild places.” 

McHenry also enjoys running, hiking, and cycling. 

McHenry has a bachelor’s degree in park management from Texas Tech University as well as a master’s in public administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association, American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, and the Southwest Parks and Recreation Training Institute.