Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Chief Conservation Officer Appointed to North American Wetlands Conservation Council by Secretary Haaland


Leathers will help guide strategy on long-term wetland protection

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is proud to announce the appointment of Chief Conservation Officer, Ron Leathers, to the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Council) and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Advisory Group.  Leathers was appointed by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for a three-year term extending through March 2025.

The Council was established by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to review and recommend project proposals to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, who has the authority to approve funding for projects under NAWCA. Extending across international lines, the agreement provides strategy and funding for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated upland habitats needed by migratory birds and other species throughout North America. The Act is a non-regulatory, incentive-based wetland conservation grant program that serves to bolster wildlife populations, increase environmental sustainability, and provide economic benefits for communities reached.

"The appointment of Ron Leathers marks the continuation of more than two decades of representatives from The Habitat Organization having a voice on the Council,” stated Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “As a respected biologist and professional amongst his peers in the conservation community, Ron’s nomination is well deserved, and we look forward to his positive impacts in this new role.”

Guided by unique partnerships including federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, every federal dollar provided by NAWCA must be matched by at least one dollar from non-federal sources. Through years of effective implementation and a strong backing, NAWCA funds are usually doubled or tripled on the local level, including habitat projects and acquisitions implemented by partnerships between NAWCA and Pheasants Forever in the states of Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Pheasants Forever & NAWCA Partnership Accomplishments to Date
Acres Acquired Acres Restored Acres Enhanced Grant Funds Matching Funds
92,135 42,168 242,488 $56,929,159 $184,602,666
Leathers began his wildlife career with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in Washington, D.C. working on recruitment and retention of hunters through licensing automation. From there, he moved to Nebraska as an ag programs biologist for Nebraska Game and Parks before joining Pheasants Forever as one of the organization’s first Farm Bill biologists. Leathers moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 2004 to take over administration of Pheasants Forever’s grants program before being promoted to director of public finance in 2008.  Leathers was named Pheasant Forever’s first ever Chief Conservation Officer in January of 2021. 
During his tenure with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Leathers has been integral to the organization’s relationships with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Leathers is a board member of the Intermountain West Joint Venture and helped to lead the organization’s expansion into sage grouse conservation through partnerships with federal and state land management agencies in the West. He was the first Pheasants Forever team member to participate in the National Conservation Leadership Institute in 2009 and was recognized as the organization’s Most Valued Employee in 2012. 

For more information about the North American Wetlands Conservation Council or to learn about NAWCA projects, please contact Ron Leathers at RLeathers@PheasantsForever.Org.

Picture Credits: (top) Roger Hill, (bottom) CC Boyle Photography