Bill Dance Outdoors

Johnny Morris Receives the Heritage Award

The American Museum of Fly Fishing hosted its Heritage Award event honoring Johnny Morris on April 7 at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium (WOW) in Springfield, Missouri. The event also celebrated the opening of AMFF's new gallery at WOW.

As guests gathered for a cocktail reception in the space outside the gallery, they were treated to a highlight reel of fly-fishing films included in the exhibition. They also had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a sloth, a snake, and an alligator who made special appearances. AMFF President Fred Polhemus welcomed nearly 100 guests to both recognize Johnny Morris's accomplishments and share the expertly curated gallery, which tells fly fishing's greatest stories, including its journey to becoming one of the world's most fascinating and beloved sports.

Dinner was served in the Great Barrier Reef room. Guests enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by the White River Conference Center set against the backdrop of a dazzling aquarium featuring an impressive array of underwater life. Auctioneer Chris Ward took the stage for a high-spirited live auction, which included a paddle raise to support our new Vermont exhibit Tied Together: The Extraordinary Lives of Joan and Lee Wulff. Captain Robert L. W. McGraw made a pre-event pledge of $10,000, which was matched by Morris, and other generous guests brought the paddle raise total to $39,500.

Former AMFF trustee and event chair Annie Perkins introduced the honoree. It was the combined vision of Perkins's late husband, Leigh H. Perkins, and Morris that brought the AMFF gallery to WOW.

Perkins and Polhemus then presented Morris with the Heritage Award. Morris shared captivating, heartwarming stories about his family and his love of the sport of fly fishing. The evening concluded with Senior Conservation Director Bob Ziehmer voicing his appreciation for his friendship with Morris and his excitement around the conservation opportunities that will emerge from the partnership with AMFF.

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