You don’t get many awards for being on the job for 38 years with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), but you do get to look forward to retiring, knowing you’ve done a good job.
And that’s the laid-back attitude with which Terry Davis, assistant manager of the Hardy Lake State Recreational Area, is leaving his post of some 32 years. His last day with IDNR is Tuesday, February 28. From 11 a.m. to 2 p..m., his friends and family are welcome to come to the Hardy Lake office and say hi, goodbye and eat cake.
Davis is a native of Warren up in Huntington County in northern Indiana. His dad always encouraged his sons to “….find something you like to do and stick with it,” according to the affable Davis, so after high school, he headed to Colorado Mountain College. Getting an associate’s degree there in biology, he moved on to the University of Wyoming in Laramie and earned a degree in wildlife management in December, 1978.
Remember those latter days of the ‘70s? The national economy had tanked, so Davis came back home and got a job as labor foreman at Salamonie Lake. “It was a job and it was a full-time job, so it appealed to me!” he noted.
He stayed there from 1979 until he interviewed and was accepted for the job at Hardy Lake SRA, now just known as Hardy Lake. Davis started July 10, 1985.
Ready for romance? Davis met his future wife Tammy Tobias when he interviewed her for a gatehouse job in the spring of 1989. “I went to my superiors and told them if they didn’t select her for an interpreter’s job, they were going to miss the boat completely. She was so well qualified for that job, to use her only at the gatehouses would have been a crime,” Davis advised.
By that fall, Tammy was the lake’s head interpreter, and she became Terry’s bride in October, 1990. The couple often paired up to present programs about nature in general and animals and birds which live in and around Hardy Lake.
Davis has always seen his job as a supportive role. During his tenure as assistant manager, Hardy Lake has increased from 1,900 acres to over 2,500 acres.
The Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Rehab Center remains close to the couple’s hearts. Recalling the center’s early, hectic days as a crowded, wildlife rehabilitative complex, Davis said they were forced to concentrate only on raptors, birds which hunt for their food, because the influx of other fauna became too great to handle. It has helped the birds which live there, too, since the center is now not as crowded, though helping creatures of the air still takes a lot of dollars, especially when they are hurt or sick.
The center did lead Davis to the creation of Friends of Hardy Lake, a group which helps support the current center through money it raises. The Friends have a series of outdoor breakfasts from April to October in the large shelter house which overlooks the beach area of the lake. Be there or be square, because it’s a nice venue, regardless of weather, that is operated by friendly, devoted people.
“Dwight Chamberlain was one of my mentors. He knew so much about wildlife and raptors in particular. Dwight was unique, but he was also sincere about caring for birds who had been shot or maimed in some way by careless humans. He taught us to give back to our community,” Davis stated.
Davis has given back, not only through the hours he has personally given to the raptor center but also in mentoring others. He cited two examples of young women who worked at Hardy Lake through high school and college and then went on to embrace wildlife management as full-time careers. He also has a pretty good network with naturalists and managers at other IDNR facilities, again thanks to mentoring.
Once he switches hats for good on February 28, Davis will gear up for another challenge: Creation of Triple T Farms and Native Wonders. From the vision that the Davises and their partner Dr. Tony Bashall have, the attraction will provide city dwellers with a taste of the country. Animals of all sorts will be featured at the farm, which includes nearly four acres of the old Tobias family farm, and the family’s original home, now being remodeled to house Terry and Tammy.
When completely finished, visitors will be able to pet Scottish Highland cattle, sheep, goats, horses and alpacas. And they’ll be able to stay overnight in teepees, cabins or their own RVs.
“It’s our vision and plays into Tammy’s ability to educate on many levels,” observed her proud husband. Of course, it sure doesn’t hurt that he’s managed a state recreational facility for 32 years, either.
The Davises also plan to continue traveling. They’ve enjoyed worldwide adventures for many years, and they hope to go on enriching their lives with the memories of their travels.
“We’ll stay busy, that’s for sure,” advised Davis.