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Jason Dinsmore: Passing It On

Staff Profile: Jason Dinsmore shares his love of hunting and passion for conservation with new hunters

  • Drew YoungeDyke
  • Jul 15, 2020

The National Wildlife Federation is one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations. We work across the land to support the more than 1.8 million members and supporters who are hunters and anglers. This work takes a dedicated staff who know the field and the meeting room. As with many any the sporting community, these folks prefer the silence of a blind or the tumbling of rushing waters much more than the bustle of the city. This means we don’t always get to hear about their incredible work across the lands and waters. So we set out to change that. With this series we will illuminate the campaigns NWF leads to protect the fish, wildlife, and wild places that serve as the backbone to our pursuits, and the dedicated staffers that lead the charge- NWF Outdoors Staff

Few people demonstrate the spirit of the National Wildlife Federation’s conservation model better than Jason Dinsmore. When Ding Darling established the “General Wildlife Federation” – as it was first called – at the North American Wildlife Conference in 1936, he built it on a true grassroots federation model of independent state affiliate conservation organizations working together to set national policy for wildlife conservation.

As the Director of Conservation Partnerships for the northern Great Lakes, Jason keeps NWF’s independent affiliate organizations connected to NWF to set our priorities and help accomplish our mission while connecting NWF resources to them to help accomplish their missions. Not only that, but Jason previously worked for one of his affiliates and recently served as interim executive director for another.

After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in wildlife management, Jason went to work for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the independent Michigan affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. While there, he worked on the negotiations between the State of Michigan, the federal government, and tribal nations on the Inland Consent Decree under the Treaty of 1836.

This immersion in tribal law foreshadowed Jason’s next move, going to law school at Wayne State University where he received a fellowship to help start the law school’s Great Lakes Environmental Law Clinic. While there he worked with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center and, after a brief foray into private practice, Jason joined the staff at National Wildlife Federation as the regional representative to affiliates including Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

Jason recently celebrated a full decade with the National Wildlife Federation and counts his relationships with its state affiliates among his greatest accomplishments. His dedication to them was evident when he accepted the position of interim executive director for the Minnesota Conservation Federation in 2018 to help the organization recover its financial strength while searching for a new executive director to lead it.

Of particular importance to Jason is the work he’s done assisting affiliates with hunting and fishing Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts through funding, programs, and events, like the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Leadership Corps and Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp Charity Shoot.

“I’m passionate about getting new people into the sport, whether brand new or returning to hunting after taking time off for school, work, or family.” Jason said. His passion for getting new people into hunting and fishing is rooted in his personal experience in the outdoors.

Ruffed grouse hunters successful using nontoxic shot

“My grandfather established the hunting camps that hooked my dad, that lit his fire and introduced me to the outdoors,” Jason said. “My early memories are learning manage and befriend our woods. Later, I started first with bowhunting deer and then hunting deer with a rifle.”

It was his college roommates, though, who introduced him to the upland and small game hunting that have become his favorite outdoor pursuits.

“My college friends were very patient in mentoring me in upland hunting,” he said. “There are a lot of people like I was, who maybe only hunted deer or another single species, who consider themselves sportsmen, but it wasn’t until I started hunting small and upland game in addition to deer that I felt like I was a well-rounded sportsman.”

Now Jason mentors other new hunters by introducing them to upland hunting. Each fall, he invites fellow National Wildlife Federation and affiliate staff, whether they hunt already or not, for an annual ruffed grouse hunting retreat at his family’s hunting camp in northern Michigan. His other favorite pursuit is passing on his own family’s legacy to the next generation.

“My passions these days are upland birds and being in the squirrel woods with my sons.”

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The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while investing in a backlog of public land maintenance, providing current and future generations the outdoor recreation opportunities like boat launches to access fishable waters, shooting ranges, and public lands to hunt as well as the economic stimulus we need right now. 

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