These featured projects illustrate the importance of Foundation support to achieve conservation success. We invite you to check back often to learn about new projects. For a complete list of Foundation-supported projects, visit our Projects Database.
Native Prairie Appreciation Field Trip
In February 2012 the MCHF's Grants Committee approved a grant to fund a Native Prairie Appreciation Workshop and Field Trip. The sense of apprhension and confusion was palpable as students in Montrose High School, Henry County, Missouri were introduced to the possibility of studying prairies in the spring semester. While most of the senior and sophomore students had a general idea of what lives in a prairie, many were surprised to find out that Montrose, MO used to be in the heart of prairie country. The experience by studying what conditions promoted best germination in eleven different prairie plant species provided by Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) seed collection effort. Students learned to identify parts of a germinating seed, to set up and maintain a controlled scientific study, and to interpret the data they collected. They discussed the students’ disappointment when some of the species did not germinate after weeks of careful tending and observation. In the classroom, students learned that on the prairie, not every seed produces a seedling.
The seven prairie species that did germinate were transplanted into small containers in preparation for the creation of a prairie garden at the Montrose School. The layout of the plants in the garden was designed by one student who discovered a particular love of native plants. Students from all classes assisted with the establishment of the prairie garden by setting pavers for a walk way and planting almost 200 plants. The garden sits along highway 52, the main road through Montrose, and will have a student-constructed sign crediting Montrose School, MCHF, and MDC.
While the sophomores and seniors studied one component of the prairie, plants, in the classroom, all students at the Montrose High School (35 in total) spent a day exploring different facets of Taberville Prairie. Our Prairie Day was organized around four workshops led by MDC experts: Prairie Plants, Grassland Birds and Management, Aquatics, and Radio Telemetry. One student explained he had driven by Taberville many times, but that it “didn’t look like much”; other students expressed surprise at the complexity and uniqueness of the prairie ecosystem. Students were also able to see the variety of careers that people with a passion for conservation have at MDC. Students learned about land management practices that promote habitat for prairie-specific species such as the Greater Prairie Chicken and the Black-Nosed Shiner. Radio Telemetry was a big hit as students worked to use the equipment to find hidden radio collars in the vegetation. The students left Taberville with a different way of looking at and experiencing the prairie that, we hope, will last a life time.
Chicago Radio Station Helps Joplin Recovery
Radio station WBEZ in Chicago, a National Public Radio affiliate, recently offered its listeners a chance to help the City of Joplin to replace trees lost to the tragic tornado that struck last May. As part of its annual membership drive, WBEZ provided listeners an option to fund tree planting rather than to receive a beverage mug or tote bag. Over 400 listeners made that choice, raising more than $2,000 for the Joplin Tree Planting Fund within the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. The money will be used by the Missouri Department of Conservation and local volunteers to plant more than 500 trees in Joplin. The project will be coordinated with several other tree planting efforts for the city.
The tree planting idea came from a station staff member with close ties to Joplin. Breeze Richardson, Director of Strategic Partnerships at WBEZ, traveled to Joplin with her husband, a Joplin native, and two small boys immediately after the tornado to be with extended family. She contacted the Department of Conservation and the Foundation with her idea, wanting to give Chicagoans an opportunity to help with the rebuilding effort before “the spotlight disappeared.”
“My family and I arrived in Joplin just days after the tornado hit. The devastation was incredible to witness firsthand. Immediately my husband and I were thinking about our own networks and what we might do to help. Chicago Public Media (WBEZ-Chicago) had done a tree planting effort once before which was very well received, and I knew as my employer the station was connected in a unique way and would want to help in any way it could. Thanks to my colleague Andrew Arganbright, WBEZ’s Director of Individual Giving, and the willingness of MCHF and Jeff Cantrell in the MDC Joplin office to work with us in this capacity, the Joplin Tree Planting Fund was established. In public media we talk about building community every day, but this effort by my fellow Chicagoans to support the rebuilding of Joplin will stay with me forever. Now I’m looking forward to a trip back to Joplin in the Spring to help Jeff and the Master Naturalists with planting.” The special fund was created at the request of WBEZ, but anyone can contribute by donating to the Joplin Tree Planting Fund either by mail or at this link. Please reference Joplin Tree Planting Fund with your contribution.
Turtle Sculpture Honors Nature Center Volunteers
On April 16 staff at Runge Conservation Nature Center dedicated a bronze sculpture of a three-toed box turtle. The sculpture recognizes the commitment of the center's volunteers who donate 7,500 hours annually to support conservation education in Jefferson City. Seven hundred people attended the event. "April is volunteer appreciation month, so what better time to dedicate this wonderful sculpture to our volunteers who are our backbone, our heart, and our soul," stated Kathy Cavender, Nature Center Manager. "Our mission is to connect people to nature. Building strong connections to Missouri's outdoors is imperative for a high quality of life and wise stewardship of our resources. This sculpture will help us accomplish our mission.", and many private donations, funded the sculpture. About half of those donations came from MDC staff and nature center volunteers. Tom Schulte, a nationally recognized artist, donated most of his time and energy to this project. Tom's art graces private collections, universities, and state Capitols. Schulte has personal connections to the nature center; three of his children have served as volunteers there.
Foundation a Partner in the Grand River Grasslands
In 2008, the Foundation contributed provided $10,000—capstone funding for the $100,000 John McPheeters Challenge to The Nature Conservancy for prairie management and restoration in the 70,000-acre Grand River Grasslands Conservation Opportunity Area. Learn about conservation progress in the area today>>
Go Fish!—In 2010, the Foundation helped raise funds for this St. Louis-area kids' fishing program, helping children get outside. Go to story>>
Ozark Trail Storm Damage Clearing—On May 8, 2009, a severe storm devastated trees along more than 40 miles of the Ozark Trail in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest and Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area. With both straight-line winds and several tornadoes, the windstorm delivered the worst damage from one weather event in the 30-year history of the Ozark Trail, a multi-use hiking, cycling and equestrian trail. Acting quickly to assess the work needed to clear and re-open the trail, the late John Roth, founder of the Ozark Trail Association, (pictured at right) contacted Missouri Heritage Conservation Foundation. On a quick turnaround and working with both the Ozark Trail Association and Missouri Department of Conservation, the Foundation supported a June clean-up project on five miles of the Ozark Trail through the Ketcherside Mountain Conservation Area. “Without the support of the Foundation, it would not have been possible to get the Taum Sauk section through Ketcherside Mountain cleared as quickly as it occurred. MDC and Foundation assistance of $3,150 was greatly appreciated by the OTA,” said Steve Coates, OTA president. Go to profile>>
Missouri Tropical Bird Account—The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation supports efforts to protect Missouri birds year-round. To that end, donations to this account fund bird habitat protection activities in the region between eastern Mexico and Panama, where 95% of Missouri’s tropical migrant bird species overwinter. The Foundation is a partner of ACA—the Avian Conservation Alliance— which includes seven Missouri Audubon chapters and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Other partners are the American Bird Conservancy, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), individual Central American and Mexican conservationists, and environmental education and conservation organizations like Enchanted Wings Nature Center in Copan Ruinas, Honduras, and Guaruma, a conservation education organization, at the edge of Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras. Current projects focus on habitat protection, restoration and bird monitoring at El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, and land acquisition in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun. The account also supports staff training, capacity building, education, public outreach, publications and ecotourism in and around critical conservation lands. Donations may be made on-line to the Missouri Tropical Bird Account.
LaBarque Creek Watershed, Jefferson County, Missouri—The Foundation has invested more than $1 million to protect land in the 8,365-acre watershed of LaBarque Creek. This remarkable stream—which supports an astonishing 44 fish species—flows within only one-half hour’s drive from St. Louis.
Kayaks for Conservation—Foundation dollars don’t have to be a lot to make a difference—a 2008 Foundation grant of $2,320 purchased two kayaks to help wildlife law enforcement and education. Go to story for more>>
Habitat for Humanity Community Rain Gardens, Native Landscaping—A $5,000 Foundation grant in 2008 provided funding for the construction of rain gardens at the Legacy Trails Habitat for Humanity Community in Springfield, Missouri.
Cerulean Warbler and Riparian Habitat—In 2008, the Foundation allocated $55,500 to help The Nature Conservancy and the Missouri Department of Conservation acquire 80 acres containing important riparian habitat in the watershed of the Current River, one of North America’s most biologically diverse streams. Although small in acreage, this key parcel links federal and state protected lands and provides breeding habitat for the cerulean warbler, whose population is declining in parts of its range. Photo courtesy www.billhubick.com