Topeka — Every year, Robin Jennison makes the journey from Topeka to his farm near Healy for the annual rite of fall — the opening day of pheasant season.
Toting a shotgun, he spends the day trekking across the fields of western Kansas with his family, searching for the elusive ringneck.
Now, he wants the rest of the state and country to see the beauty and opportunities he sees in Kansas — resources, he says, that for years have been under-promoted.
Thus, from his new office Monday, Jennison worked on his day off despite it being a state holiday. There’s too much to do, he said. He’s taken the reason Gov. Sam Brownback appointed him as the new secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to heart.
“Folks aren’t aware of what we have,” he said simply. “We’ve never promoted it adequately or promoted it right.”
Brownback has said he wants to market Kansas’ natural resources more aggressively — including elevating the hunting and fishing industries in Kansas as part of his economic development plan.
“I want to show America why Kansas has the best hunting in the world, some of the most unique recreational lakes and parks in the region, and unmatched tallgrass prairie land that takes you back in time,” Brownback said when announcing the appointment Jan. 7. “I want people across America to consider Kansas as a destination for a different and memorable vacation. I am confident Robin Jennison has the right knowledge, experience and skills to deliver this as the secretary of Wildlife and Parks.”
That doesn’t just include outdoor attractions, however.
Jennison said, if passed, he’d also be charged with promoting other state tourism attractions, such as Greensburg’s Big Well and Hutchinson’s Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
In his fiscal 2012 proposal, Brownback recommends moving the Kansas Travel and Tourism agency out of the Department of Commerce and into wildlife and parks.
That move wouldn’t save money, but it would consolidate efforts in marketing Kansas.
Jennison said the tourism aspect is why he jumped at the job.
He talked to his brother, Dick, before accepting the job, noting he wouldn’t be home as often in the summer to help with the family farming and ranching operation near Healy — a partnership among the two brothers and their father.