Jeff works and volunteers with schools, youth groups and the public on a daily basis and eagerly looks forward to hearing their progress and feedback on naturescaping projects and using the outdoors to teach. He has been teaching naturescaping (a favorite topic) workshops and programs for more than 20 years.
His past job experiences have included hands-on bird- and botany-related employment with Missouri National Guard, The Nature Conservancy, The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Cantrell is currently employed with MDC as a Conservation Education Outreach Consultant.
Steve was born on a small crop and stock farm in southeast Kansas. He earned a bachelor degree in wildlife and range management at Kansas State University. After a short stint with the U.S.F.W.S. in South Dakota and Kansas Fish and Game Commission, he came to the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1977 to work with Tom Toney and Don Christisen on prairies. With Tom, he reintroduced fire and trained over 650 MDC staff and related agency personnel in prescribed fire management. As grassland biologist, he had a statewide assignment that took him to every county working with landowners and public land staff on prairie and grassland restoration. He is particularly interested in ensuring prairie and other grasslands remain functional for indigenous flora and fauna, controlling woody encroachment and invasive species, and maintaining working grasslands on private lands. He was instrumental in Missouri’s prairie-chicken reintroduction program and recently coordinated translocating Kansas birds to Illinois’ Prairie Ridge Grasslands. Since retiring from the Department in 2010, he has restored native grasses on 40 acres of 120 acres his family bought in Benton County on which he grazes steers for grassfed beef, does contract prescribed burning, quail habitat management consulting, trade shows for Truax Manufacturing (grass drills); remains active in the patch-burn grazing working group, the Prairie Grouse Technical Council, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Society, and Society for Range Management; and is a Windsor city alderman.
Jefferson City, MO
Dennis Figg has focused his career on promoting the stewardship of fish, forest and wildlife resources. His commitment to habitat conservation has been influenced by the many professional positions that he has held with the Missouri Department of Conservation: Natural Heritage Biologist, Wildlife Ecologist, Endangered Species Coordinator, Natural History Programs Supervisor, Natural History Division Unit Chief, Wildlife Programs Supervisor, and Wildlife Conservation Strategic Planner. Dennis led the development of the Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy (CWS), and this approach to strategic habitat conservation was recognized nationally. Dennis was an invited member of the Wildlife Habitat Policy Research Program, hosted by the National Council for Science and the Environment. The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies awarded him the Spirit of the Shack Award in 2007, recognizing professionals whose work follows in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold. Dennis remained a champion for integrating conservation for all forest, fish and wildlife that supports healthy habitats for all fish and wildlife into the final stages of his professional conservation career, leading the Department through the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Strategy. His most recent co-authored publication, “Completing the System: Opportunities and Challenges for a National Habitat Conservation System,” was recently published (August 2016) in BioScience. Dennis lives on a hobby farm just north of Jefferson City. His primary business, Greener Gardens, promotes native plant conservation. He is a member of Grow Native and recently planted a monarch friendly meadow and wetland north of Jefferson City.
Jefferson City, MO
Mike has worked for over twenty years with state agencies in Indiana, Virginia and Missouri on the conservation of natural resources. Most of this work has been with the Missouri Department of Conservation, serving in the roles of regional natural history biologist, Heritage community ecologist and natural areas coordinator. Over the past nine years he has worked with MDC field staff to inventory and designate thirteen new Missouri Natural Areas and seven additions, totaling more than 8,000 acres. He has published technical and popular articles on natural history topics, including the 2011 publication of the field guide, Discover Missouri Natural Areas – A Guide to 50 Great Places. Leahy has a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a MS in Forest Ecology from Michigan State University. Leahy’s love of natural areas began as a kid with family trips to the Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area. He enjoys exploring the outdoors with his wife and son.
Dr. Quinn Long
St. Louis, MO
Quinn Long is an ecologist with the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where he works with conservation and restoration of rare plant species and natural communities. He received a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Kansas, researching limitations to plant diversity in prairie restorations. His research interests include fire ecology, invasive species, and restoration of grassland, savannah, and woodland communities. Quinn has 15 years of firsthand experience managing prairie plantings and restoring woodlands on his family property in northwestern Franklin County.
St. Louis, MO
Rudi Roeslein says he majored in soccer while attending Saint Louis University and minored in engineering. “But somehow I managed to scrape out a career,” he said. And quite an impressive one at that. Roeslein launched Roeslein Associates, which designs and builds manufacturing systems, in 1990. The company, including its Integrated Manufacturing Technologies subsidiary based in Red Bud, Ill., now has more than 200 employees and expects to reach $120 million in revenue this year. Roeslein grew up in south St. Louis, after immigrating here from Austria with his parents in 1956. “I really have lived the American dream in being able to start on my own and build a business and see that business flourish to where it is today,” Roeslein said. In recent years, Roeslein, 64, also has been pursuing a different kind of dream — focused on prairie and wildlife restoration.
Rick worked for several years for the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission before moving to Missouri in 1978 to work with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Natural Areas Program. He stayed with MDC for a 27-year career, which included serving as chief of the Natural History Division and Wildlife Diversity Chief in Wildlife Division. After retiring from MDC, Rick worked for six years as executive director of the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. Rick represents MPF on the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Steering Committee.
Dr. James Trager
James C. Trager is an entomologist who works as naturalist, educator and natural habitats steward at Missouri Botanical Garden’s Shaw Nature Reserve near St. Louis. He claims to be inordinately fond of ants, but it doesn’t seem to interfere with his love and caring for the extensive acreage of diverse, planted prairies, constructed wetlands, and remnant dolomite glades, woodland and forest on the 4-sq.-mile Reserve. He regularly participates in the MPF BioBlitzes, engaging participants with his extensive knowledge of insects and their interactions with prairie plants, soils, and other animals. He also serve as a science advisor and occasional contributor to the Missouri Prairie Journal.