SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Serving the public in a multitude of ways – one of which was taking the lead role in one of Missouri’s largest-ever deer poaching cases – has earned Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agent Andy Barnes the 2019 Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction in the Public Service category.

Barnes, who is the Lawrence County conservation agent, will receive his award in a special ceremony in the upcoming months. Missouri’s Awards of Distinction (AOD) are annual honors presented in several categories. The public service category winner is honored for outstanding dedication to the advancement of state service which enhances the quality of life to Missouri citizens. It honors accomplishments that are far and above the employee’s normal job requirements.

Barnes earned his honor for his work in 2018, which was a very busy – and from an enforcement perspective, very productive – year for him. The highlight came in December when sentencings in Barton County Circuit Court and Lawrence County Associate Court culminated a multiple-year, multiple-state investigation into the poaching activities of one family and their accomplices. Barnes was one of the lead investigators on this case, which was known internally as the “Geronimo Case.” The investigation, which involved the illegal taking of deer and several other wildlife violations, culminated with the filing of more than 300 charges on 14 individuals in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Canada.

In addition to his work on the Geronimo Case, Barnes’ 2018 work accomplishments also included 1078 resource contacts, 119 resource violations, 130 other violations, 96 arrests, 52 assisted arrests, 35 written warnings, 25 meetings, 7 radio, television and newspaper articles; 8 exhibits, 1,233 public contacts and 1,604 phone calls. In addition to this, he also certified 62 hunter education students and made six hunter education instructor contacts.

On top of this, Barnes found time to conduct several fishing clinics for the Mount Vernon R-5 School District in Lawrence County, assist with youth fishing clinics in Barton and Jasper counties, present school programs about wildlife to local schools and assist with the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) state tournament in Branson.

Barnes, a native of Mountain Home, Ark. and a graduate of Missouri State University, has been with MDC since he graduated from the Conservation Agents’ Academy in 2006.