TDEC Names Roger McCoy as Tennessee’s Third Honorary State Naturalist

Roger McCoy has been designated as Tennessee's third honorary State Naturalist by TDEC.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has designated State Director of Conservation Programs Roger McCoy with the honorary State Naturalist title, making him only the third person to hold the title in the state’s history.

The honorary title is given to a TDEC staff member who demonstrates extensive knowledge and a unique ability to share an appreciation of Tennessee’s natural resources with the public. It recognizes the experience, expertise, and dedication of an employee who advances conservation stewardship within the department and beyond.

“Roger has dedicated his career to sharing his understanding of our rich natural resources with Tennesseans, and his work merits this unique designation,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greer Tidwell.

McCoy has served in various roles advancing native plants, natural areas, and conservation strategies. He has conducted searches for rare species, monitored rare species management, and presented sites to the State Lands Acquisition Committee that are now part of the state natural areas system.

Passionate about botany and fieldwork, McCoy enjoys leading public outreach hikes, canoe floats, and “botany by bicycle” trips throughout state natural areas. He has visited every county in Tennessee and has done fieldwork in all ecoregions of the state.

McCoy has been director of Conservation Programs at TDEC since 2019 and previously served as director of the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas from 2012-2019. He earned a B.A. in biology and an M.S. in plant biology from Southern Illinois University.

The two previous State Naturalists were Mack Prichard, who was instrumental in acquiring more than 40 sites for state parks, natural areas, and archaeological areas, and Randy Hedgepath, who presented interpretive programs and led walks, hikes, and waterfall tours. Both Prichard and Hedgepath are now listed as State Naturalist Emeritus.

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