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Citizen Conservationists

Missouri citizens have a long history of conservation stewardship and generosity. Multiple generations of Missourians and decades of time have created a legacy and history, which are hallmarks of Missouri’s conservation program. As the year winds down, I can’t help but reflect on great conservation initiatives and leaders that have helped Missouri lead the nation on many resource management fronts.

Missouri landowners have long been at the forefront of managing their land for the conservation of multiple wildlife species. From the pioneering efforts of Southwest Missouri farmer Eugene Poirot to today’s modern farmer and recreational landowners, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is being implemented on Missouri’s landscape. Today’s landowners are the best educated and most technologically advanced land stewards in our state’s history. We also have some of the best conservation opportunities to improve Missouri’s landscape through multiple federal and state conservation initiatives.

Past conservation leaders such as E. Sydney Stephens, A.P. Greensfelder and Ed Stegner have laid a foundation that helps today’s citizens build and improve Missouri’s conservation program. Today’s many conservation leaders continue to promote stewardship and generosity that help give all Missourians the opportunity to learn and participate in conservation activities. Modern deer hunters have donated more than 2 million pounds of deer meat through the years as part of the Share the Harvest program. This program provides much needed protein to less fortunate Missourians and exemplifies the generous giving spirit of many Missourians and partners such as Bass Pro Shops and Shelter Insurance.

Other citizens offer their most precious gift, their time, as they volunteer at nature centers, shooting ranges and other conservation facilities around the state. Conservation volunteers provided the state with more than 250,000 hours last year, which translates into real economic and educational benefits to our state and its citizens.

Each year, Missourians generously donate land to the people of Missouri. This land, which is held in public trust by the Department, allows all Missourians the opportunity to enjoy a quality outdoor experience.

As we look to the future, how do we build on that conservation legacy of stewardship and generosity? As a Department, we will continue our focus on conservation education and communication. We will continue to expand the Discover Nature Schools program in our public school system. This program helps Missouri youngsters understand today’s complex conservation issues. We will continue our long standing position of basing conservation on sound science. By focusing on research and management the Department will build on conservation successes through science based decisions. Citizen input and participation is extremely important as we work hand in hand with Missourians to vision, plan and implement future conservation successes.

Conservation opportunities and challenges will be abundant in the coming year. As we face challenges, such as invasive species or new wildlife diseases, it’s nice to know that Missourians are some of the best informed citizens on conservation and continue to grow their land stewardship. They readily give their time, talent and money to promote conservation throughout our state. Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife. As we celebrate a new year make and take the time to enjoy Missouri’s outdoors with family and friends. Our collective conservation future depends on you—the citizen conservationist!

Tim Ripperger, deputy director

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