Warner, Thomas D.
Professor of Wildlife & Outdoor Enterprise Management
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Originally from LaPorte, Ind., Tom Warner was surrounded by parks and recreation areas as a child, with easy access to the Indiana Dunes National Lake shore. He also became interested in natural resources because he had an uncle who worked for the National Park Service. “The hat sucked, but the job was cool,” Warner said.
Warner began his college years majoring in Outdoor Recreation and Conservation at Indiana State University, because he enjoyed the outdoors and a natural setting. Early in his undergrad, Warner decided he wanted to become a professor and then went on to Michigan State University to receive both his M.S. and Ph.D.
Upon completion of his Ph.D., Warner took a position at Texas Tech University from 1976-1977 and left after one year. He then took an assistant professorship at Kansas State in Natural Resources in June of 1977, leaving briefly from 1983-1988 to serve as department head at South Dakota State University. Warner then returned to wildcat country as department head and has been at K-State ever since.
Warner later stepped down as department head to serve as program director for the Wildlife Outdoor Enterprise Management (WOEM) program in 2007.
The idea for the WOEM major came directly from the hunting, fishing, shooting sports and resort industry. In the fall of 2006, Warner received a call from a resort owner in Southeast Kansas who had a committee of resort owners and they wanted to know who was going to run their businesses when they were gone. They had recognized K-State as an excellent example of a land grant institution. Later, after many meetings between K-State faculty and the industry representatives, nearly 1,600 questionnaires were sent out to resort owners. The results were unanimous. “The industry felt that we should have a degree program and that they would hire the graduates,” Warner said.
Since then, nearly 20 faculty members from across campus have come together to design a curriculum that combines natural resources management, fish and wildlife management, hotel and restaurant management, business and various skills courses. The degree option became available in the fall of 2009, and graduates of the program will receive a B.S. in wildlife outdoor enterprise management as well as a business minor.
“There are wonderful people in this department,” Warner says of the HNR Department. “We have world class faculty who are simply just nice people. We try to be a little more helpful than normal, and the students are always polite, courteous and interested in learning.”
“It’s always a pleasure to watch people grow and become great successes,” he said.
B.S. Outdoor Recreation/Conservation, Indiana State University, 1971
M.S. Park and Recreation Resources/Resource Development, Michigan State University, 1974
Ph.D. Resource Development, Michigan State University, 1976