Memorial Service Announced for Mike Huffman and Rochelle Renken
Missouri’s conservation community lost two giants in late June. Mike Huffman and Rochelle Renken passed away in remote Alaska while in the midst of a grand adventure hiking through the backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Mike began his 28-year career with the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1985 as a resource forester assistant in Clinton. He passed on his love and respect for nature to his three sons through camping, canoeing the waterways of the Ozarks, and hiking the Rockies of Colorado. Mike also served as the leader of their Boy Scout troop and led trips with them to the Florida Keys, Philmont and the Canadian Boundary Waters.
“Mike was such a huge component of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. He had recently joined the Executive Committee, chaired our Forestry Resource Committee and was incredibly involved with our youth conservation programs. He was a man I often leaned on for his wisdom and advice, and always found him willing to share and help build up our Federation in the most positive way. I will miss him greatly, but he will come to mind often when I think of the kindness in his heart, the knowledge in his mind and the adventure in his soul,” said Brandon Butler, CFM executive director.
CLC president Brooke Widmar said, “Mike was extremely active in CLC and constantly engaging with the students. Whether he was prepping us for a professional networking event or cutting open persimmon seeds at the park to forecast the winter weather, we all learned a great deal from him. I feel lucky that I got to work alongside Mike and be mentored by him for so many years, and I know the entire student group shares that sentiment.”
Rochelle was devoted to conservation and to the Missouri Department of Conservation, retiring this past February after 28 years as a research scientist and unit chief. Ro’s wildlife work took her across North America. On Alaska’s Arctic coast, she recorded yellow-billed loon behaviors while wrapped in a sleeping bag and hidden by a blind for hours on end, and she captured tundra swans using a Zodiac and a large dipnet.
“Rochelle was a fantastic scientist, mentor and leader in our Resource Science Division and throughout the department. She represented MDC in our partnership with University of Missouri, including serving on search committees for MU staff. Both she and Mike were MDC family members and their loss leaves a big hole. They will be sorely missed but their contributions to conservation in Missouri and beyond will continue to be celebrated and have an impact for generations to come,” said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Those wishing to join with family and friends to celebrate the lives of Mike Huffman and Rochelle Renken are invited to a memorial service on August 3, 2018 at Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia. (2601 S Providence Rd, Columbia, MO 65203). The service will begin at 5pm. A program will start at 6pm with prayers, tributes, remembrances, readings, and story-telling hosted by Vince Travnichek.
For those traveling, a block of rooms has been reserved from August 2nd to August 4th under the name Renken-Huffman Celebration of Life.