Missouri Prairie Foundation Bestows 2019 Awards 

The 53-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust honored champions of prairie conservation 
on August 10 at its Annual Dinner in Jefferson City, MO.

JEFFERSON CITY (August 13, 2018)—The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Annual Dinner is a celebration of Missouri’s prairie resources, held this year on August 10, 2019 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. At the event, the 53-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust paid tribute to six awardees.

“Prairie in Missouri is a rare and priceless resource,” said David Young, Missouri Prairie Foundation President. “Protecting and promoting it requires hard work and commitment from many people. Our award program recognizes individuals who have made or are making a positive difference in the conservation of Missouri’s prairie legacy.”
The Missouri Prairie Foundation 2019 awardees are:
2019 Grow Native! Native Plant Pioneer Award: Jeff Cantrell of Neosho, MO. The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s 19-year-old Grow Native! program promotes the use of native plants, and this award recognizes efforts that have been foundational to the advancement of the native plant industry and movement. Cantrell, Outreach & Education Coordinator with the Missouri Department of Conservation, received this award in recognition of his work over decades, in his career and as a volunteer, to demonstrate and promote the horticultural and ecological value of native plants.
2019 Bill T. Crawford Prairie Award, Professional of the Year: Randy Arndt of Albany, MO. Arndt, who retired from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in November 2018, devoted his more than 40-year career to the conservation of prairie and other natural resources. In his work with the Missouri Department of Conservation and later with TNC, Arndt oversaw the stewardship and restoration of thousands of native grassland acres in northern Missouri, innovated new ways to harvest prairie seed, oversaw the introduction of a bison herd at Dunn Ranch Prairie, and managed greater prairie-chicken and Topeka shiner fish populations. 
2019 Donald M. Christisen Prairie Volunteer of the Year Award: Randall Switzler, of Joplin, MO. Always positive and hard working, Switzler has become a valued member of the Missouri Prairie Foundation team. He helps with prescribed prairie burns, seed collection, and invasive plant control on the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s original, unplowed prairies, and with planting prairie plugs on the organization’s prairie reconstruction areas. He has also assisted with surveys of the state-listed regal fritillary butterfly.
2019 Clair M. Kucera Award, Prairie Landowner of the Year: Charleston Baptist Association of Benton, MO. The Charleston Baptist Association owns and conserves 52 acres of original sand prairie on its property in the Bootheel. This is one of, if not the, most botanically diverse sand prairies in the region—especially significant because sand prairies are the rarest prairie type in the state. The Association also educates about and provides access to the sand prairie to its church community, including church youth groups who learn about the prairie’s historical and conservation value, as well as other community members and prairie enthusiasts. Thanks to the Association’s cooperation, seed collected from its site is broadcast on other sand communities in the region to bolster restoration efforts.
• 2019 William A. Davit Award, Prairie Communicator of the Year: Dr. James Trager of Pacific, MO. Trager is recognized for his contributions to communicating the importance of prairie ecology. For 29 years, until he retired in June 2019, he was the naturalist and restoration ecologist at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO. An ant specialist and natural community restorationist, Trager has influenced colleagues, cultivated volunteers, and inspired hundreds if not thousands of people with the importance of prairie conservation and ecological restoration through his writing, presentations, tours, his teaching at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and other educational endeavors.
• 2019 Dick Dawson Prairie Pioneer of the Year Award: Jon Wingo of Wentzville, MO. Through his companies DJM Ecological and Pure Air Natives, Jon Wingo has, for more than 32 years, been creating and sustaining prairie and other native plantings in the built environment that have now become landscaping landmarks. With clients including Forest Park Forever, the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington University, Bayer, Roeslein Alternative Energy, and many more, Wingo has not only grown his companies to more than 50 employees, many of whom he has trained to be experts in their field, but he has also served as a trailblazer, building acceptance and appreciation for native vegetation restoration and landscaping, with all its benefits to wildlife and people.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 53-year-old membership organization and land trust that protects and restores prairie and other native grasslands through acquisition, management, education, and support of prairie research. The organization owns 22 properties totaling more than 3,300 acres of prairie across the state, and with partners, inspires the conservation of thousands more. The Missouri Prairie Foundation is also home to the Grow Native! native plant education and marketing program and the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force.