Paul Ott, veteran Mississippi entertainer and wildlife conservation was honored with the organization’s Ag Ambassador Award.

The award recognizes individuals who have gone beyond their normal range of activities in promoting Mississippi agriculture.

“It isn’t given every year — only when Farm Bureau feels it has been earned,” Knight says.

The 78-year-old singer, songwriter and storyteller “has spent his life traveling the state, nation, and world promoting wildlife conservation and giving others a glimpse of the lifestyle and values that have sustained farmers and rural Southerners for centuries,” he says.

His popular radio/television show, “Listen to the Eagle,” will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2013 and, Knight says, “is a testament to his enduring popularity.” The show is named for a song he penned in 1976 in honor of America’s bicentennial and focuses on wildlife and conservation issues, agriculture, and other themes.

Ott got his start in entertainment with the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission (now Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks) in the 1970s as their public relations manager.  He began promoting their educational programs with songs he wrote and sang himself.

He used videos and sounds with his music — images of kids running with dogs, and the sound of a hound dog baying, etc. — because, he says, he knew it would also capture people’s attention.

His songs became so popular that the National Wildlife Federation asked him to take the ads to all 50 states. 

Ott has presented his “Listen to the Eagle” program at all 50 state governors’ conventions, to over a million school children, and to six state legislative sessions. He has sung for two U.S. presidents at their request.

He also has also appeared with many big-name country music stars on the Grand Ole Opry, the “Porter Wagner Show with Dolly Parton, and all major national talk shows. “I didn’t want to be a star,” he says. “I was happy doing what I was doing.  I ‘m a Mississippi boy, and my roots run deep in this Mississippi soil.

“We have some great farm families in our state, and I truly believe farmers make the world go ‘round. If it wasn’t for farmers, we couldn’t keep our country going. We must never get to the point where we depend on other countries for our food.”

Ott was instrumental in helping Farm Bureau promote its campaign for an eminent domain initiative.

“He worked tirelessly,” Knight says.