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Hendrix to Award Odyssey Medals to Three Alumni

Ken Babcock ’65, Beth Wiedower Jackson ’99, Mel White ’72 to be honored at Oct. 27 convocation

CONWAY, Ark. (September 30, 2022) — Hendrix College will award Odyssey Medals to three alumni at a special convocation on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 11:10 a.m., in Reves Recital Hall, Trieschmann Fine Arts Building.

The Odyssey Medal is presented to alumni whose life achievements exemplify the ideals of the Hendrix Odyssey Program. Medalists are selected by the Hendrix Board of Trustees for their accomplishments in one of the six Odyssey categories: Artistic Creativity, Global Awareness, Professional and Leadership Development, Service to the World, Research, or Special Projects.

The 2022 Odyssey Medal Recipients and their Odyssey categories are:

  • Ken Babcock ’65 — Special Projects
  • Beth Wiedower Jackson ’99 — Service to the World
  • Mel White ’72 — Global Awareness

Ken Babcock ’65, Waterfowl Biologist and Retired Conservationist

Babcock began his career in 1967 as a waterfowl biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. He worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation from 1970-1997 starting as a waterfowl research biologist and serving as Assistant Director of the wildlife agency from 1988-1997. After retiring from the Missouri Department of Conservation, he went to work for Ducks Unlimited until retiring as Senior Director of Conservation. He moved back to Missouri and began serving on the board of the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. Babcock received the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ prestigious W.W. Watson Award in 2005 for a lifetime of outstanding contribution to wildlife management. 

Beth Wiedower Jackson ’99, Executive Director, Astrodome Conservancy

Jackson is a preservationist with experience in the fields of community revitalization and cultural heritage development. She has served as director of the Rural Heritage Development Initiative under the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Senior Field Officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, executive director of the Congaree Vista Guild, a historic urban arts and entertainment district in Columbia, S.C., and a tourism consultant for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. In March 2018, she became the executive director for the Astrodome Conservancy in Houston. She holds an interdisciplinary degree in Southern Studies from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and a Master of Public History from the University of South Carolina with a specialty in historic preservation. In 2005, she was honored with a National Council on Public History award for her preservation work. She married Adam Jackson in April 2014.

Mel White ’72, Freelance Writer

Mel White was born in Conway and graduated from Hendrix in 1972 with a major in Humanities. After working as a reporter and editor at the Arkansas Democrat newspaper, he spent several years writing and producing music at a Little Rock recording studio. For eight years he worked as a writer and editor at the Arkansas Times magazine. In 1990 he became a freelance writer specializing in natural history and travel, and for the next 30 years he worked mostly for National Geographic Society publications. He has written more than 50 magazine articles for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler, and has written or contributed to more than 30 travel and natural-history books. He has visited more than 40 countries, covering assignments including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Borneo, the Amazon River, the Foja Mountains of New Guinea, the national parks of New Zealand, the Swiss Alps, Newfoundland, Mount Kilimanjaro, orangutans, Florida crocodiles, and California tidepools. His stories won first-place awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association. Although most of his work was for the National Geographic Society, he also did assignments for Smithsonian books, Reader’s Digest books, Discovery Channel books, Audubon magazine, Outside magazine, Wilderness magazine, and AARP magazine, and for many years he wrote a regular column for Living Bird, the magazine of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. He is married to Hope Coulter, director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation.

About the Hendrix Odyssey Program

Established in 2004, the Odyssey Program requires all Hendrix College students to complete three Odyssey experiences or projects during their undergraduate careers, in three of the six Odyssey categories. The program ensures that students look beyond the classroom to experience educational opportunities in the liberal arts and sciences.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit