William A. Demmer

Dec. 27, 2017

William A. Demmer (BS MECH EGR ’70) was awarded the Thomas L. Washington Lifetime Commitment to Conservation Award by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission on Dec. 14 in Lansing.

Demmer is chief executive officer of Demmer Corp., a Lansing-based company which for many years operated a manufacturing site in Petoskey before selling it to Lanzen Inc. in mid-2017. He also is the chief executive of River Caddis, LLC in Lansing, and CEO of Demmer Properties, Airport Realty, Demmer Investments and Palmer Engineering. While he has a background in multiple business platforms, Demmer is an avid conservationist.

“I’ve had an opportunity to really explore and engage with my passion for conservation,” Demmer said. “I’ve been able to bring a skill set from different work environments into the world of conservation, helping to make a difference in this great, beautiful state of ours. This award signifies that my contributions have made an impact. It’s an honor.”

The Natural Resources Commission, made up of a seven-member public body appointed by the governor, conducts monthly meetings at locations around Michigan and has authority to regulate the taking of game and fish, designate game species, and authorize the establishment of open season for animals.

The award, named after Tom Washington, a Michigan conservationist and past director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, recognizes a lifetime of commitment to natural resources, conservation, outdoor recreation and assistance to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on carrying out its mission through volunteer, partnership or service.

From 2012 to 2014, Demmer served as president of the Boone and Crockett Club. The club, established in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America and has championed objectives such as some of the first national parks, including Yellowstone, science-based wildlife management efforts, and has helped with leading legislations for conservation, management and research.

Demmer was a leader in establishing the Boone and Crockett Chair in Wildlife Conservation at MSU in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, helping to bridge science and conservation policy by developing and promoting leadership to both public and private organizations.

In addition to helping Michigan State University expand its conservation and natural resource investments, Demmer helped co-found and co-fund the MSU Flygirls Program, a program that offers fly-fishing classes and experiences to future women fisheries biologists.

With assistance from his family, Demmer established the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports, Education and Training Center on the MSU campus, a 24,000-square-foot facility based on many of the principles as the Boone and Crockett Club, such as firearms safety, hunter safety, wildlife management education and shooting skills development. The facility also houses the MSU club shooting sports, including small bore, air rifle and archery.

Demmer recently co-chaired the Department of Natural Resources Blue Ribbon Committee on Southern Michigan State Game Areas to create important recommendations to better utilize the public-owned areas.

Rex Schlaybaugh, Natural Resources Commission member, nominated Demmer for the award. 

The William A. Demmer Endowed Scholars Program is an advocate in natural resources and a 13-week internship in Washington, D.C. It focuses on the history, policies and impacts that the Boone and Crockett Club has had on North American conservation. The program also provides opportunities for MSU students to become paid interns at federal and nongovernmental organizations focused on natural resources. 

“By providing our youth with countless opportunities to engage in scientific management of natural resources through training and hands-on experiences, Bill has helped to ensure that these resources will be here for future generations,” Keith Creagh, Department of Natural Resources director, said in a press release. “Bill Demmer has been a key conservation leader in Michigan and his opinion is routinely sought and valued on complex conservation issues.” 

William Demmer's father, John Demmer, a resident of Harbor Springs, has made numerous donations to organizations statewide, such as MSU and, more locally, the Northern Michigan Regional Hospital Foundation. In 2010, John and family donated $3 million used to build the John and Marnie Demmer Wellness Pavilion.

Story courtesy of the Petoskey News Review.