Thanks to supporters, the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) and its Grow Native! program accomplish a sustained, high level of conservation activity to benefit prairie and people, and to promote the use of native plants. We invite you to make a year-end contribution to help us continue to deliver our award-winning conservation work.
MPF owns and manages some of Missouri’s most biologically diverse prairies—32 properties totaling more than 4,400 acres. Our stewardship sustains the stunning biodiversity of these prairies and their natural integrity, making them irreplaceable sites for prairie wildlife conservation and research, and open to all to enjoy on foot. Through our work with partners, we help protect thousands of additional acres.
In 2023—with an active and dedicated board of directors, Grow Native! committee, other valued volunteers, a highly efficient and effective staff of six employees working in the field and from home offices, trusted contractors, and thanks to generous gifts from supporters like you—MPF has accomplished an incredible amount of work including these highlights:
- Acquired a rare sand prairie in Scott County, only one-half mile from MPF’s Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie. These properties provide habitat for many state-listed species.
- Dedicated MPF’s Benton County Prairie, acquired in December 2022, which contains old-growth, unplowed prairie.
- Continued monitoring for potential prairie remnants to acquire and protect, and, as of this mailing, have two pending prairie acquisitions.
- Contracted for botanical surveys at MPF’s Rockhill, Shelton L. Cook Memorial Meadow, and Benton County Prairie, and initiated invasive plant surveys in designated Missouri Natural Areas in the Ozark Highlands and Mississippi Lowlands to aid conservation partners with invasive plant control.
- Scouted for and treated invasive plants multiple times on a total of 4,618 acres owned by MPF, neighboring properties, and several prairies owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
- Conducted prescribed burns on 1,820 acres over portions of 18 MPF prairies, the Ozark Land Trust’s Woods Prairie, at prairie plantings established by MPF for the City of Joplin, and two private prairies in Pettis and Barton counties. Additional prescribed burns are planned for the remainder of 2023.
- Carried out extensive restoration at three MPF prairie properties: 16 acres were cleared of encroaching woody growth to restore a rare prairie swale community at Shelton L. Cook Memorial Meadow, 13 acres at The Rae Letsinger Prairie, and 6 acres of the savanna at Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie, improving habitat for the state-listed sand hickory and other species of conservation concern.
- Completed initial seeding of a 40-acre prairie planting at Creve Coeur Park in St. Louis County, stewarded 50 acres of prairie plantings for the City of Joplin, and helped organize the seeding of a new prairie planting for the Joplin History and Mineral Museum.
- Organized the MPF Annual Dinner, featuring guest speaker Dr. Lisa Schulte-Moore presenting on the prairie strips agricultural practice, and organized 25 webinars and master classes on many aspects of prairie biology and native landscaping. As of November 12, this programming had total live attendance of more than 4,000, with more than 7,700 additional views of program recordings on MPF’s YouTube channel, which now has 1,950 subscribers. Additionally, the Grow Native! Southwest Illinois Committee organized a half-day native landscaping workshop in Edwardsville, Illinois.
- With host partners, organized 14 native plant sales in Kansas City, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Springfield, and Independence, Missouri.
- Organized field tours for professional members of MPF’s Grow Native! program and hosted an in-person Grow Native! Professional Member Conference on November 8, with a virtual option free to MPF members. Additionally, a pre-conference tour of native landscaping projects was offered with the City of Columbia.
- Offered numerous guided hikes and tours to MPF prairies and other native grasslands for students, members, and the general public; provided Bumble Bee Atlas training, hosted the Paint It Prairie plein air event at MPF’s Snowball Hill Prairie; and organized and hosted MPF’s 12th Prairie Bioblitz at Carver Prairie on National Prairie Day (founded by MPF in 2016).
- Hosted three testing sessions of the Grow Native! Professional Certification Program, added more plants to the searchable Grow Native! Native Plant Database and plant tag program, and inducted five additional sites to the Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program.
- Became an approved provider for the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LACES) and offered a selection of distance education classes through which landscape architects could earn professional development hours.
- Produced three issues of the Missouri Prairie Journal—now in its 44th year of publication.
- Awarded Prairie Garden Grants totaling $3,134 to the Dade County Library in Greenville; TriBeta Biology Club at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph; Wohlwend Elementary School G.R.O.W.S. in St Louis; Springfield-Green County Park Board in Springfield; and Ozark Rivers Audubon in Rolla.
- Staff and board members gave in-person or virtual presentations on prairie and native plants to many groups and conferences including the National Wildlife Federation’s America’s Grasslands Conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Iowa City’s Native Plant Symposium; the International Master Gardener Conference in Overland Park, Kansas; more than 200 fourth-grade students in Vernon County, Missouri; garden clubs; public libraries; and other venues.
- MPF Director of Prairie Management Jerod Huebner, along with several board members, led a hands-on, 2.5-day MPF prairie woodland and prairie management training geared to young professionals and students at Stark Family Prairie.
- The Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP) organized successful Callery Pear BuyBack events in nine Missouri cities to encourage the replacement of this invasive tree with native species.
Ecologists rank temperate grasslands—which include Missouri’s prairies—as the least conserved, most threatened major terrestrial habitat type on earth. Of Missouri’s original 15 million acres of prairie, fewer than 45,000 acres of intact, scattered remnants remain. Prairie protection efforts in Missouri, therefore, are not only crucial to preserving Missouri’s natural heritage, but also are highly significant to national as well as global conservation work. In 2024, we will continue our award-winning conservation work as the only state-based organization dedicated exclusively to prairie protection.
MPF greatly appreciates your support. Please consider making a year-end gift to sustain our award-winning, essential work. We cannot protect prairies or promote native plants without you!
Photo above of silvery checkerspot butterflies by Bruce Schuette; photo collage photos by MPF staff and board and Frank Oberle