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Mike Sutherland named Missouri State Parks director


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For the past two and a half months, Mike Sutherland has served as the acting Missouri State Parks director. But on Friday, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officially named him to the role. 

“Mike brings a great deal of leadership and experience to his new role,” DNR Director Carol Comer said. “His knowledge and familiarity with both state government and the outdoors made him an excellent candidate for this role. We’re looking forward to Mike helping us continue to build relationships as we move into the future.” 

Missouri State Parks Director Mike Sutherland

An avid mountain biker and former state representative, Sutherland said he’s most looking forward to continuing to work with the people at Missouri State Parks. Before taking over as acting director in November 2019, Sutherland served as the deputy division director since June 2017. 

“One of the things that excites me the most is the team I get to work with and the mission in terms of interpreting and working with some of the most special places, natural areas, cultural resources, historical places, and to get to tell the story of Missouri,” Sutherland told The Missouri Times in an interview. “I’m a sixth generation Missourian so getting to tell the story of Missouri is something that is a great honor to get to do.” 

Sutherland said he hopes to build a strong culture of teamwork at Missouri State Parks while he’s at the helm. 

Before DNR, Sutherland worked for a budget and tax policy nonprofit and served as the executive director for the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission. He is the former Warren County assessor and has served on the Missouri Parks Association and Missouri State Parks Foundation boards. 

Aside from mountain biking, Sutherland enjoys hiking and kayaking. He said he’s proud of how accessible the state’s parks are for Missourians. 

“Just being outdoors makes me — and everybody else — feel better,” he said. “We also have our cultural resource mission [at Missouri State Parks] with some of the most significant cultural sites that tells the story of Missouri … and really explain what being a Missourian is all about.” 

“I’m a history buff and really enjoy learning not only about our country’s history, but Missouri’s history as well — and we have a lot to tell.” 

Missouri has 91 state parks and historic sites which fall under the Missouri State Parks umbrella, according to DNR. Its mission is to preserve and interpret the state’s natural landscapes and cultural landmarks while providing recreational opportunities.