Neil Thagard grew up in Asheville, North Carolina where his family instilled a love of hunting and the outdoors at a very young age. Neil attended Union University in Tennessee where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He is currently pursuing an M.S. in Natural Resource Management at Oregon State University. After graduation, Neil played professional baseball for 2 years where he was fortunate to be a part of history by playing in the 1st professional baseball game where a black manager managed each team.
After his professional baseball career, Neil served simultaneously as an associate scout for the Houston Astros baseball club, and an executive for the Boy Scouts of America. During his tenure with the Boy Scouts he was awarded the National Chief Executive Officers Winner’s Circle Award.
Because of his love for the Rocky Mountain Region, Neil moved to Boise, Idaho where he became affiliated with the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and served on the local chapter board of directors, later to become president. During his presidency, he and his team secured the funding necessary to purchase the last domestic sheep grazing allotments on Idaho’s Lost River Range, helping to promote a positive future for wild sheep recovery.
Immediately following his chapter board obligations, he took the position as Director of Operations and Policy at the International Headquarters of WSF in Cody, Wyoming, where he primarily dealt with wild land & wildlife management issues, the Foundations trust fund, public education, and chapter relations. From 2003 to 2010, Neil was the primary voice for the Wild Sheep Foundation, where he dedicated himself to wildlife conservation through influencing public land policy. His dedication received international recognition when Neil was awarded the Lex Ross Wild Sheep Conservation Award in British Columbia, Canada, the first non-Canadian to receive the award.
He also took part in a monthly radio show and a number of hunting and wildlife conservation television programs at the national level, including being the producer for WSF’s television program Hittin’ the Outdoors with Wade Boggs. Neil has also authored a number of articles regarding hunting and conservation issues which have been featured in such publications as: Wild Sheep, Sports Afield, Bowhunter, and Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal.
Neil is not only a conservationist but an avid bowhunter. He has taken, under fair chase conditions, ½ of North America’s big game species with a bow, with more than 20 record book-qualifying animals. In 1994 he was the recipient of the Idaho State Bowhunters Association Bowhunter of the Year award, which not only recognizes 1 of its members for their accomplishments in the field, but for their giving back to conservation.
Wildlife and wild places are Neil’s passion. He states, “It is my strong opinion that without the stewardship of non-governmental organizations such as the TRCP the future of wildlife and the places they call home would certainly be in jeopardy!”
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