Many of us can still remember the teacher, friend or family member who first inspired our love for the outdoors. It often takes root in our hearts and our minds. Over time, it becomes a part of who we are and guides our actions.
Today, we enjoy a conservation legacy nurtured by many generations before us, who shared their love of the outdoors and made it a part of our heritage. The Department continues to work with Missourians, and for Missourians, to conserve the fish, forest and wildlife of the state, as well as preserve our outdoor heritage and quality of life.
Central to the Department’s mission is making sure every Missourian has opportunities to learn about and enjoy nature. “We promote Missouri’s passion for conservation through hands-on activities and education with people throughout the state,” says MDC Outreach and Education Division Chief Mike Huffman.
“The Department helps educate and empower citizens in many ways: by offering outdoor programs to people of all ages at nature centers, by working with schools to teach top-notch curriculum that engages students in the outdoors, by sponsoring archery in schools, by coordinating the state’s successful hunter education program, and by providing shooting ranges and conservation areas to enjoy,” Huffman says.
“The Department also teaches outdoor skills and supports community conservation efforts in every county through agent outreach. A wide variety of publications, such as the Missouri Conservationist, our exciting new Xplor kids’ magazine, a number of go-to nature guides, as well as the MDC website, also help connect Missourians with nature,” says Huffman.
Conservation education centers offer a huge range of programs touching on all aspects of the outdoors and conservation, from fishing workshops to presentations about wildlife and habitat. They are free and open year round. Each year, the Department’s nature centers connect almost a million people with the outdoors.
“At Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, we focus on helping people build the outdoor skills necessary to confidently explore the wild and beautiful habitats of Missouri with their friends and family,” says Lisa Lacombe, nature center manager.
Since Missourians passed the Design for Conservation tax in 1976, the Department has provided more outdoor education opportunities for Missourians, including seven nature centers located around the state. Those nature centers are:
- Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, Kansas City
- Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, Blue Springs
- Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, Cape