Prairie and Native Plant Careers
Retired Grassland Biologista
Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Where did you study and what was your major field of study?
Kansas State University. Wildlife Management with Range Management Minor.
Briefly describe your current job.
Before retiring, I trained public management and private land conservationist staff in prairie management-prescribed burning, mowing and grazing. I kept up-to-date on the literature including reports on conferences, developed supportive literature, and produced an native warm-season grass newsletter for private prairie owners and agency staff (Missouri Department of Conservation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, et al)
How do you use your native plant and/or prairie knowledge in your career today?
Since retiring, I practice what I preached for 40 years and found it easier and more profitable than I ever said it was. I continue to advise livestock producers on native warm-season grass establishment, grazing, and burning management.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your current work?
Working grasslands for native flora, fauna, and producers.
What native plant/prairie classes or trainings were especially important to your career?
Taxonomy of Flowering Plants and Range Management. Also, belonging to the Society for Range Management where I was able to collaborate with like-minded resource professionals and keep abreast of research.
What other subjects have you studies that have been important to your career?
Prescribed fire and Native American cultural history.
Please describe volunteer or field work that was formative to your education and career.
Prescribed burning management, patch-burn grazing (organizing member of working group), and greater prairie-chicken habitat management, spatial requirements, and coordinating translocation from Kansas Smoky Hills to Missouri and Illinois.
What materials and technology are must-haves for your field?
Knowledge of fire behavior and plant response. Effective tools and practices include backpack blowers, broom rakes, and drip torches, and firebreak preparation and maintenance for simpler management, which includes natural occurrence of firebreaks (ridges, not drainages)
What advice would you give students or others wanting to go into your field?
You can learn something from every course and experience if you want to. Keep an open mind and remember that everything you learn and know may not always be right and can be re-evaluated.