Like a bear waking from hibernation, the world is slowly returning to what life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person events are a reality once again, and the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame’s annual ceremony to honor the Arkansans who have contributed to the state’s waterfowler industry and conservation efforts is no exception.

It is a year of firsts for the hall of fame. Not only is the 2021 ceremony the hall’s first to take place after a global pandemic, but it will also be the first time two classes are inducted, as well as the first induction of a trio.

The Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame was prepared to honor the 2020 class until the coronavirus pandemic affected the world in unforeseen ways.

The hall’s Garland Derden said preparations for the 2020 event were beginning to take form when the pandemic broke out around the world.

“Before the lockdown, a committee met to decide the nominees,” Derden said. “Restraints were then made on what could and what could not happen, so ultimately we opted to hold out on a formal recognition ceremony.”

As social distancing guidelines are lifted and things are returning to a resemblance of what life was like before COVID-19, Derden noted that this year’s ceremony will “proceed like normal.”

This is also the first time the hall of fame will induct a trio. Dr. H.V. Glenn, Thad McCollum and Verne Tindall were instrumental in creating, promoting and growing the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest.

In addition to Glenn, McCollum and Tindall, Witt Stephens, Jr. and Carl Hunter will also be inducted.

The 2020 and 2021 honorees will be recognized in a ceremony at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock on Sept. 23.

The 2021 Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame Inductees

Five individuals make up this year’s Waterfowler Hall of Fame induction class as they are honored for their unparalleled contributions to the industry:

Verne Tindall (1894-1972)

Tindall, along with Dr. Harold Glenn and Thad McCollum, co-founded the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart in 1936, and Tindall was an instrumental organizer of the event. With his brother, Arthur, Tindall is also credited with creating a reservoir system for watering rice fields. Tindall served as president of Producers Rice Mill in Stuttgart and Producers Rice Dryer Inc., and was also a member of the Arkansas County Farm Bureau.

Dr. Harold (H.V.) Glenn (1900-1965)

Glenn obtained sponsorship from the American Legion for the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest. He, McCollum and Tindall co-founded the event in Stuttgart in 1936. In the mid-1950s, Glenn co-founded the Grand Prairie Historical Society, later serving as president. He was the mayor of Stuttgart from 1950-1953, advocating for legislation to protect rice farming, expanding rice research and building a park for the city’s African-American citizens. Glenn was also among leaders in making the Arkansas Post a national memorial and establishing the Arkansas Post State Park in Gillett.

Thad McCollum (1892-1969)

McCollum created and promoted the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest with Glenn and Tindall. McCollum is credited with coming up with the idea for the event. An avid outdoorsman, he was well-known for his skills in archery and shooting rifles and shotguns. McCollum is said to have given Stuttgart national recognition through his visits to sports shows and his network of hunters and fishermen.

Witt Stephens Jr.

W.R. “Witt” Stephens Jr. of Little Rock is a passionate land manager involved in countless conservation-related efforts that benefit Arkansas wildlife and sportsmen. Stephens was recently named president emeritus of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, for which he has served various terms over 25 years.

Stephens served a seven-year term on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 1993-2000. While on the commission, he played key roles in the 1996 campaign to pass a conservation sales tax, as well as influencing major changes in deer and trout management and implementing the first elk season in Arkansas. Stephens also served on The Nature Conservancy board and is a lifetime member of Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl Foundation.

Carl Hunter (1923-2005)

Hunter was among the first new hires for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) after the reconstruction of the agency under Amendment 35 to the Arkansas State Constitution. A University of Arkansas graduate, Hunter was a key figure for Arkansas’ deer restoration program, and he compiled an inventory of Arkansas wildlife for the 1951 publication “A Survey of Arkansas Game.”

Hunter served as assistant director of the AGFC from 1980 until his retirement in 1987.