The Rae Letsinger Prairie

September 25, 2020 | Blog, Missouri Prairie Journal Articles

Carol Davit small

By Carol Davit, MPF Executive Director

MPF’s most recent prairie acquisition is named for Mr. Rae Letsinger, whose sister Joan Letsinger purchased naming rights this year to honor her brother. Her generous contribution will support future prairie protection efforts.

On May 15, 2020, MPF closed on its most recent purchase, The Rae Letsinger Prairie near Sarcoxie, MO. Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) funding awarded to MPF made this prairie acquisition possible.

This 68-acre, original, unplowed prairie is named for Mr. Rae Letsinger, whose sister Joan Letsinger purchased naming rights this year to honor her brother. “Rae was so appreciative of the prairies that I felt purchasing the naming rights to a Missouri Prairie Foundation prairie would be very appropriate. I knew it would make him extremely proud and it was my way of honoring his legacy.” Joan’s generous contribution will support future prairie protection efforts.

Rae was a moth expert, and, while entomology was not his profession, he collected, identified, and preserved one of the largest collections of moth species in Missouri. Over 47 years, he amassed a collection of 1,436 species and more than 22,000 specimens. His collection has been given to the Enns Entomology Museum at the University of Missouri.

Rae Letsinger, who died on November 1, 2018, with his sister Joan. Rae
graduated in 1955 from Sarcoxie, MO high school and joined the Air
Force where he was trained in instrument landing systems. In 1960 he
began working for the Gilbert H. Wild & Son flower nursery in Sarcoxie,
retiring from there in 1999. In his younger years, Rae sang tenor and
baritone in vocal groups, played basketball, and loved his Thunderbird
cars. He was a voracious reader and loved music of many genres. He
also was an authority on moths and amassed a collection of more than
22,000 specimens.


In a hay regime for decades before MPF ownership of this original unplowed prairie, The Rae Letsinger Prairie supports many prairie-dependent plants, including, left to right, blue hearts (Buchnera americana), fringed poppy mallow (Callirhoe digitata), and Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa). Having ceased haying upon ownership, MPF will be implementing annual, rotational prescribed fire on the property and will expand prairie habitat by thinning trees on a wooded portion of the property. This year, botanical and breeding bird surveys were conducted at this prairie to establish baseline plant and bird data. The Rae Letsinger Prairie is in Newton County southwest of Sarcoxie on the northeast corner of the Terrier Rd and Aspen Rd intersection, about 7 miles east of MPF’s Noah Brown’s Prairie. For a Google Earth map and GPS coordinates, visit the Letsinger Prairie page here.

This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2020 Missouri Prairie Journal

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