Habitat & Conservation  |  05/15/2023

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Appoint Thomas A. Harris to National Board of Directors


Bobwhite quail enthusiast helps guide future operations of The Habitat Organization

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas A. Harris to its National Board of Directors. Harris, the founder of Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association and an ardent quail conservationist, joins the 16-member board which meets quarterly and oversees the operations of Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever.

“I’m excited to welcome Thomas Harris to our National Board of Directors and look forward to his contributions to grow our mission impact throughout America’s pheasant and quail range,” said Marilyn Vetter, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s president and CEO. “Thomas brings many years of business expertise to his new role, as well as a personal passion for conserving bobwhite quail in his home state of Alabama. A bird dog owner and upland hunter at heart, he shares many of the same values as our membership and is ready to help propel the organization to new heights.” 

Harris attended Auburn University and graduated with a degree in business administration before leading a lifelong career in investment banking as president of Merchant Capital and finishing his career as senior managing director with Stifel Financial Corporation. In 2009, Harris founded Alabama Blackbelt Adventures Association, the leading promoter in Alabama of fishing, hunting, canoeing, rafting, birdwatching, biking, and hiking opportunities throughout the region. He currently serves as president of the Association. His volunteer work throughout local communities includes board representation as part of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Junior Achievement of Alabama, and the Alabama Land Forest Trust. He also currently serves as chairman of Longleaf Wellness and Treatment Centers. 

A native of Alabama, Harris was raised on the traditions of quail hunting in the Alabama Blackbelt – a region spanning 23 counties and aptly named for its blanket of dark soil which has long yielded a bounty of wildlife, including a rich history with bobwhite quail. This background is what led Harris to develop one of the largest land assets in the region known as Gusto, an 1800-acre upland preserve featuring managed pine and grassland habitat for quail and other wildlife. Gusto has been highlighted on various television series for hunting and conservation, and its diverse habitat has also been featured in the Quail Forever Journal. Harris was also named the Conservationist of the Year in 2019 via the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award. 

“Being invited to serve as a board member within this respected organization and working with such a distinguished leadership team is a special honor,” said Harris. “The mission of Quail Forever aligns perfectly with our family’s commitment to restoring grasslands, promoting accessibility, and advocating on behalf of upland bird enthusiasts.” 

Thomas and his wife, Cindy, reside together in Hope Hull, Alabama. The couple own more than a dozen bird dogs – pointers, shorthairs, Labrador retrievers, Brittany spaniels, and English cockers – as part of Gusto Kennels. He is a Life Member of Quail Forever.