Wildlife Biologist and Project Manager Randy Clark retired late last year after serving 37 years of federal service. To celebrate him, we will take a look back at his life and career to recognize him for everything he's done, not just for the Memphis District but also for our nation.
"I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee," Clark started. "I went to college at the University of Tennessee in Nashville and Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Soil and Plant Science in 1981. (I) then went to graduate school at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee, where I got my Master of Science in Biology/Wildlife Management in 1985."
Clark first started working for the federal government with the Nashville District in 1978 as a summer hire in the Environmental Analysis Branch. There he worked on Cultural Resources for the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.
"Then I went on to become a Co-op student (Biologist) with the Nashville District Corps in 1982 working on the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and as a Graduate Research Assistant (working on a project) through 1984," he continued. "My graduate thesis was the Wildlife Management Plan for the Big South Fork Recreation Area. The Big South Fork is a 125,000-acre area. Then in 1985, I came to the Memphis District to work as a Biologist in the Environmental Analysis Branch up until 1989 before transferring to the Regulatory Functions Branch, where I worked all the way up until retiring."
Clark said he has always loved animals, the outdoors, and law enforcement. That's what inspired him to join the field he spent his life working in.
"I always wanted to be a game warden," he said. "But fate had other plans for me. The Corps offered a whole new world of environmental work, and my life dreams were met. I have stayed with the Corps my whole career."
Clark loves talking to and meeting people, so really, this job was his perfect match.
"In my line of work, I did meet a lot of different people and personalities," he added. "But just being in the field and the great outdoors kept and will continue to keep me alive. I love nature."
As mentioned before, Clark was inspired by animals, the outdoors, and law enforcement to join the field, but his mentor stems all the way back to high school.
"Mr. Norman Fox, who was my High School Biology teacher at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville, Tennessee, inspired me to stay in the Environmental Field."
But how did Clark continue in this line of work for so long?
"Being honest in everything you do and doing the very best you can," he answered. "If you try hard enough, all things will work out."
Clark stayed plenty busy while working for the Memphis District. And by the sound of it, he'll stay just as active in retirement with the number of hobbies he has.
"I love hunting, fishing, hiking, and scuba diving," he said. "I am hoping to do a lot more of each. It's hard for me to compare where I like to fish the best between Kentucky Lake and the Gulf. Both have such unique characteristics. I can say from my 30-plus years of scuba diving and a lot of deep dives in the ocean, I know what is down there -- the beauty and the magnificent fish-life and the size of some individuals; but I kind of lean toward the Gulf habitat. And, just in case you are wondering, diving with sharks is not my concern. In fact, they are fascinating animals. I love deep dives around the wrecks; I also find it to be fascinating."
Clark will spend his retirement with his family, wife, and son, who all live here in Memphis. His son works in the Survey Section here in the Memphis District at the Ensley Engineer Yard.
Clark also has two granddaughters that he looks forward to spending more time with.
We know what he's excited to do when he retires, but what will he miss?
"I will miss the PEOPLE," he said. "The Memphis District and the folks here were and will always be a part of my family. I will truly miss seeing a lot of these folks daily. But I plan to make several trips downtown to see my friends and have a 'Willie Moores' hamburger and crinkle French fries."
"I finally want to thank the entire Memphis District team for giving me the BEST career I could possibly have, which was my lifelong dream."
He isn't the only one who is thankful. The entire district and Mississippi Valley Division are very grateful to him, and for everything, he's done. It was evident during his retirement ceremony, as he received the Bronze De Fleury Medal, among other awards for his honorable service to this nation.
Congratulations again Mr. Randy Clark. Many thanks for your dedicated service to the Memphis District, the Mississippi Valley Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and this great nation.