Bush School to Honor Bass Pro Shops Founder with McLane Leadership in Business Award

Johnny Morris with bass
Johnny Morris courtesy photo

Johnny Morris, founder and lead outfitter of Bass Pro Shops, will receive the 2024 McLane Leadership in Business Award

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Feb. 21, 2024 — In 1972, Johnny Morris got his start by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father’s store. Since then, Morris has pioneered the concept of destination retail and created an outdoor gear enterprise that is one of the most well-recognized brands in North America. He has also become one of the nation’s conservation leaders, working to ensure that natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy and abundant for future generations to protect and enjoy. On Tuesday, March 5, Morris will receive the 2024 McLane Leadership in Business Award at the Bush School of Government & Public Service, where he will also speak to the students and the public about his career, leadership and conservation experience.

Bestowed annually by the Bush School’s Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy and the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, the award recognizes a prominent individual for outstanding contributions in the areas of business and public service. The event will take place in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5. The program is open to the public, but registration is required by Monday, March 4. Guests may register either online at bush.tamu.edu/mosbacher/ or by calling (979) 845-1927.

In 1992, the Sport Fishing Institute, one of the top fishing conservation organizations in the world, presented Morris with the Fisherman of the Year Award at a special ceremony with President George H.W. Bush at the White House. This was one of many recognitions that Morris has received over the years for his philanthropic, conservation, and business contributions. Some of his key initiatives involve conserving wildlife and habitat, connecting kids and families to nature, inspiring new audiences to discover the outdoors, protecting sportsmen’s rights, supporting disaster relief, and supporting the armed forces and their families.

In conservation circles, Morris often is referred to as a modern-day Theodore Roosevelt for his leadership, personal commitment, and dedication to conservation efforts. He has used his entrepreneurial success as a platform for that cause, contributing heavily both in time and resources to many significant conservation organizations and initiatives. Over the last decade, Bass Pro Shops has donated an average of 10 percent of its revenues to support conservation. In 2019, Morris and his family were presented with the Audubon Medal — one of the most prestigious awards in conservation — by the National Audubon Society, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of conservation and environmental protection.

The McLane Leadership in Business Award is designed to promote a sense of corporate citizenship, to reinforce the idea that business plays a key role in maintaining the economic, political and social vitality of our nation. The McLane Leadership in Business Award program was made possible through the generosity of Drayton McLane Jr., chairman of the McLane Group and noted Texas entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist.

By Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service Staff

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