LITTLE ROCK — When Randy Wilbourn was an enthusiastic Boy Scout in Conway, he was introduced to the Buffalo River on a 10-day float and fishing trip. It set a pattern for him that remains a driving force a half-century later. Wilbourn retains strong interests in the Scouts, in the Buffalo and has added an impressive list of other activities in addition to a successful business career.
He is now a principal in Martin-Wilbourn Partners, a Little Rock marketing and public relations firm. This came after his years as senior vice president to Alltel, the Arkansas-based communications operation, before it was sold to Verizon.
He’s the president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation. He has been president of the Little Rock Chamber of commerce and the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce. He helped launch Arkansas Nature Conservancy. He served on the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. He is on the Hendrix College Board of Trustees.
Results are a reliable yardstick of a person’s civic work, and Wilbourn can reflect on a variety of achievements that took place during his time with these organizations.
Examples are Pollution Control and Ecology’s advancement in controlling in-stream gravel mining, in protecting the upper Saline River area and in creating a reliable minimum flow of water for the White River’s trout habitat.
In his nearly two-dozen years with the Game and Fish Foundation, conservation education facilities were created at Cook’s Lake in southeast Arkansas and on Crooked Creek in north Arkansas. Both are used year-round for school field trips and for many other events. A state-of-the-art public shooting range is under construction at Jacksonville. And the Foundation has been involved in many other projects in conjunction with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Randy and Judy Wilbourn gave funds to establish the Scott Henderson Fellowship Program, a project of Hendrix College, Arkansas Nature Conservancy and the Game and fish Foundation. It provides internships with the Game and Fish Commission for Hendrix environmental science students.
Wilbourn has been active in southwest Arkansas in helping protect the wildlife-rich Little River surroundings in issues with the construction of a major coal-fired electricity generating plant.
Wilbourn smiles when he tells about that Scout trip on the Buffalo in the days before the river was protected as the Buffalo National River.
“We had adult leaders like Dr. James Flanigan Sr., and Harold Alexander.” Both have been inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. “We had Grumman aluminum john boats, and this was in July. Harold Alexander went ahead of us in a canoe, and told us just to come down the river until we found him. We fished and we slept under the boats, those memories last a lifetime.”
Wilbourn and his wife Judy live in Little Rock. They have a daughter, two sons and six grandchildren.
The Outdoor Hall of Fame began in 1992 as a project of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to recognize Arkansans’ achievements in outdoor fields and to protect wildlife habitat.
For more information on the Outdoor Hall of Fame and tickets to the induction banquet, contact Steve Smith at 501-223-6396 or Wendy Henderson at 501-223-6468.