Arkansas’ great outdoors are free for the asking but require substantial annual investment to stay clean, accessible and of sound habitat to support a wide range of plant and animal species. Among the many entities involved in this ongoing effort is the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Deke Whitbeck stepped to the helm of the foundation in 2017, setting off ripples in awareness and fundraising that have only widened with time. He hit the ground running, spreading the mission and message of the foundation to all corners of the state and all types of outdoors audiences. Not content to serve the hook-and-bullet crowd solely, Whitbeck has provided a seat at the table for a wide range of outdoors enthusiasts.
The barnstorming paid off with record attendance and funds raised at the annual Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet and new initiatives to reach the next generation of outdoor consumers. The Arkansas Outdoors Society, formed specifically for people under 45, is one such outcropping of these efforts.
As president, Whitbeck has also generated considerable fundraising momentum for the forthcoming J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center and ongoing support of the Steve Smith Endowment which provides a financial base for the work of Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation now and into the future.