Sandstone outcrops at MPF’s Schwartz Prairie. Photo: Bruce Schuette
Missouri Prairie Foundation Board of Directors
The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) prairie conservation organization and land trust governed by a volunteer board of directors.
LEE’S SUMMIT, MO
David B. Young is retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation where he was a wildlife regional supervisor responsible for more than 100,000 acres of public lands, developing and supervising wildlife management programs in west-central Missouri. As a retiree, he was self-employed as a part-time landscape maintenance technician and is a Master Gardener Emeritus in Johnson County. His hobbies are hunting, fishing, family activities, and traveling. He holds membership in MPF (life member); CFM (life member); and NWTF.
Committees: President serves on all committees.
Madison Johnston Liput
Maddie received her B.A. in environmental studies from Denison University in 2014 and her J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law in May of 2017. While at SLU law, Maddie served as president of the Environmental Law Society, lead editor of the Journal of Health Law & Policy, and writer for the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. She has previously worked and researched for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation in Florida, the Department of Natural Resources and MPF in Missouri, People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability in Ohio, and the School for Field Studies in Turks & Caicos. She is currently an attorney.
Committees: Governance, Development
Vice President of Science And Management
Bruce Schuette retired from working 36 years as a park naturalist at Cuivre River State Park, where he was involved in natural resource management (prescribed burns, exotic species control, ecosystem management), natural resource inventory, collections, monitoring, working with researchers, and nature education. He has served on the MPF board since January 2000, served as secretary 2005-2012, and is vice president of Science & Management and chairman of the Science & Management Committee. He has a Bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Committees: Executive, Science & Management (Chair), Land Acquisition Subcommittee, Outreach & Education
Kansas City, MO
Laura Church is a CPA with a Masters in accounting from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and has 20 years of experience in public, private and governmental accounting. Laura is a committed conservationist, a long time member of MPF, and joined the board in 2009 as treasurer.
Committees: Executive, Awards, Finance & Budget
Sarah is a native Kansan and a recent transplant to Missouri. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in biology and tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors—hiking, biking, camping. She has worked in grasslands and savannas in Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Massachusetts, and is excited to bring her energy and enthusiasm to MPF.
Committees: Executive, Governance, Science & Management Committee
Immediate Past President
Dale Blevins has a B.S. in physical geography, an M.S. in watershed management, and additional graduate work in fish and wildlife at the University of Missouri. He worked 31 years for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as a hydrologist and supervisory hydrologist, mostly in Missouri. Blevins manages about 1,100 acres of farm land, some of which has been converted to native grasses and forbs. He is a past president of MPF and has been on the board of directors for over 10 years. Dale’s interests include water-quality of prairie streams, wet (wetland) prairies and restoration of native landscapes.
Committees: Executive, Science & Management, Land Acquisition Subcommittee
Term expires October 2025
St. Louis, MO
Bala Abiramikumar hails from the south Indian city of Chennai and immigrated to the United States in 1999 for higher education. He works by day as an R&D Specialist for Bayer Crop Science at the Chesterfield site in St. Louis, MO, developing the next gen technology for molecular screening of transgenic plants. Among his many professional pursuits is understanding the below-ground carbon sequestration potential of prairie perennials. His first introduction to native gardening was at a native plant sale in 2015, an experience that led him to learn all he could about native plants and native ecosystems of Missouri. An avid gardener and nature enthusiast, Bala is passionate about sustainable living, is an active member of St. Louis Wild Ones and has been engaged with MPF’s many educational offerings for several years. Bala holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Master of Science in Biology and Bioinformatics.
Committees: Outreach & Education, Governance
TERM EXPIRES OCTOBER 2024
Vernon Elsberry is a graduate of Central Missouri State University, now the University of Central Missouri, with a degree in biology. He spent four years in the United States Air Force as an air traffic controller, 11 years teaching biology in west-central Missouri, 26 years appraising real estate in west-central Missouri, and has been retired since 2014. He is a past president of Citizens for Environmental Action, a local environmental group involved in a variety of environmental issues, one of which is managing a seven-acre created prairie tract established in 1997 by Warrensburg Parks and Recreation. Vernon is an avid birder, fisherman, wood worker, husband, father, and grandfather.
Committees: Land Acquisition Subcommittee
Term Expires October 2024
Dennis Evans is from Neosho, MO. He received his Bachelor’s degree in agriculture from MSU in 1983. He has been involved in agriculture lending, land management, and finance for the last 35 years. Dennis is a past president of the Missouri Walnut Council and is a presently a board member of CASA (court appointed special advocates) for Newton and McDonald Counties. Dennis is a devoted advocate of preserving and managing our native prairies in Missouri. He enjoys photography and working on his tree farm in Neosho.
Committees: Budget & Finance
TERM EXPIRES OCTOBER 2026
Doug Helmers retired in 2018 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Iowa private lands state coordinator. As project leader for the Partners for Fish & Wildlife program, Doug worked with private landowners to improve fish and wildlife habitat on their lands. The Partners Program in Iowa worked diligently with partners to implement restoration/establishment of monarch/pollinator habitat. Prior to working for USFWS, he was a wetland emphasis team leader with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri. In addition, he spent three years working for the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in Massachusetts. Doug received his B.S. and M.S. in fisheries and wildlife from the University of Missouri. He grew up in the corn fields of western Illinois and has lived in Missouri for over 35 years. He enjoys traveling, various outdoor recreation activities, and spending time with his dogs at the farm. Doug and his lovely wife are restoring and managing 65 acres of prairie and woodland on their farm in Chariton County.
Committees: Outreach & Education
Glenn Longworth II
Term Expires October 2025
Kansas City, MO
Glenn Longworth is a graduate of UMKC with a B.S. in communications studies. After 13 years as the City of Kansas City’s chief elevator inspector, he retired with 36 years of service within various departments. Glenn served on the board of directors for Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, MO for 20 years and chaired the Land and Resources Committee for the Sanctuary for 10 years. In his free time Glenn enjoys bird watching, landscaping with native plants, participating in Rails to Trails, and bicycling. Glenn hopes to learn more about prairie restoration and Grow Native! while serving on the Missouri Prairie Foundation Board.
Committees: Science & Management, Awards (Chair)
TERM EXPIRES OCTOBER 2026
St. Louis, MO
Linden received her B.A. in Philosophy from Lindenwood University and is pursuing an MBA at Southeast Missouri University with the intention to help nonprofits increase their organizational effectiveness. Her interests include introducing children to the splendor of nature, working for the protection of our soil, water, and wild landscapes, and permaculture, travel, old homes and country property. She is thrilled to work with MPF to preserve our irreplaceable native prairies. She is currently Director of Development at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.
Committees: Outreach & Education, Awards
Jefferson City, MO
Jane Haslag retired in 2018 after 38 years with the Jefferson City News Tribune where she served as Marketing Director. She was responsible for print and digital advertising sales as well as promotion and events for the company. Jane also served on the board of directors for the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Missouri. In retirement, Jane and her husband Allan cleaned up the acreage around their home, removing invasive species and planting 3.5 acres in pollinator habitat. She is excited about the changes she’s seen to her property and is eager to share that experience with others. Jane completed the Master Pollinator Steward program through the University of Missouri Extension Center in 2021. Her hobbies include hiking, camping and nature photography.
Committees: Outreach & Education, Awards
Kansas City, MO
After 30 years in executive positions in for-profit healthcare, Tracy left her corporate career for the non-profit world and is currently Director of Operations at Great Plains SPCA. Tracy is a lifelong birder and gardener, but most of her ecological and environmental “education” was obtained growing up on the East Coast. Living in Kansas City for the past 12 years has offered her a whole new world of birds and plants that you can’t get anywhere else. Tracy looks forward to bringing her skills and experience in operational process and non-profit fundraising to MPF.
Honorary Board Members
Dr. Peter Raven
ST. LOUIS, MO
Peter H. Raven is president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, George Engelmann Professor of Botany Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis, and a trustee of the National Geographic Society and chairman of the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. For more than 39 years, Dr. Raven headed the Missouri Botanical Garden, an institution he nurtured to become a world-class center for botanical research, education, and horticulture display. During this period, the Garden became a leading center for botanical research and conservation in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and North America and co-sponsored with the Missouri Department of Conservation a thorough revision of Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, completed in August 2013.
Since the mid-1960s, Dr. Raven has been an outspoken advocate of the need for conservation throughout the world based on efforts to attain sustainability and social justice everywhere. He has received numerous prizes and awards, including the International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan; Volvo Environment Prize; the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement; the Sasakawa Environment Prize; and the BBVA Prize for Ecology and Conservation, Madrid. Dr. Raven has also held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.
In 2001, Dr. Raven received the National Medal of Science, the highest award for scientific accomplishment in the United States. He has been president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and a number of other organizations. He served for 12 years as Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, to which he was elected in 1977. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society, of the academies of science in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Georgia, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, the U.K. (the Royal Society), and of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).
Emeritus Board Members
William A. Davit
Bill Davit played an instrumental role in cultivating interest in prairie in the St. Louis area in the 1980s and 1990s through his work establishing prairie plantings at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO. Even though his formal education was geophysical engineering, and his early work took him around the world measuring the earth’s magnetic field for the U.S. Navy, he went on to enjoy a 30-year career with the Missouri Botanical Garden, its Shaw Nature Reserve, and the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center. In retirement, Davit continues his interest in vegetable gardening, prairie restoration, and tree propagation at his home in Washington, MO. Davit served many years as an MPF board member and participates in as many MPF activities as he can.
St. Louis, MO
Appointed MPF Director Emeritus for exemplary service to MPF for many years.