Prairie and Native Plant Careers

Malissa Briggler

State Botanist
Missouri Department of Conservation
Jefferson City, MO

Where did you study and what was your major field of study?
University of Nebraska, Prairie Restoration

Briefly describe your current job.
As a plant expert for the Missouri Department of Conservation, I assist in answering questions from the public and internal staff regarding plant identification, ecology, and management. I also assist in tracking and conserving rare plant populations, managing plant collection permissions on MDC land, and coordinate the Missouri Ginseng Program.

How do you use your native plant and/or prairie knowledge in your career today?
I use my knowledge in native plant and prairie ecology on a daily basis to address questions on plant identification, management, and research.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your current work?
Documenting rare plant populations knowing that the information about their existence is going to assist in protecting the plants and hopefully be preserved long after my career is over.

What native plant/prairie classes or trainings were especially important to your career?
Rangeland ecology and field botany courses that I took in college.

What other subjects have you studies that have been important to your career?
Mycology. I’ve had to learn quite a bit about mushrooms since there is not a professional mycologist on staff at MDC. It’s a very interesting field of study and I’ve enjoyed learning more about it.

Please describe volunteer or field work that was formative to your education and career.
Working with field crews for plant research projects.

What materials and technology are must-haves for your field?
Flora of Missouri, field guides, and a hand lens

What advice would you give students or others wanting to go into your field?
Embrace as many opportunities as you can to work with new people and different fields of study. The relationships and experience that you build now will open up more opportunities in the future.