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Reach Out and Touch Someone

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

This has become the largest activist movement here in Missouri. Some teams and team members go through special water quality monitoring training and monitor water quality for the Department of Natural Resources; others clean up trash along streams, lobby for clean water at local, state and national levels, install fish habitat or just function as watch dogs for their favorite streams."

If you're looking for a hands-on experience dealing with our natural world and people, which could lead to future employment, consider volunteering at one of the Missouri Department of Conservation nature centers or wildlife areas, or working with Conservation Department biologists on summer projects.

Michele Baumer, volunteer director for the Runge Conservation Nature in Jefferson City, says they have volunteers as old as 80 and as young as teenagers.

"They really do have a love for the outdoors," says Baumer, "and want to share that love. Volunteering gives them a sense of community, a sense of healing; they learn a lot about the environment, the role the Conservation Department plays and they receive experiences that they wouldn't get elsewhere.

"My teenager volunteers are looking for something different to do, and for the opportunity to learn about the outdoor field for possible future employment. College students volunteer hoping to get their foot in the door in working with the Conservation Department. And, some do. Other volunteers, who have 8-to-5 jobs, just want to do something different. My older volunteers, retirees, just want to give something back to the community."

At the Runge Nature Center, Baumer says, volunteers greet visitors and provide information, lead nature tours, build trails and displays, present programs, organize and staff special event displays, such as Day With Wildlife and Earth Day, and give talks to groups visiting the nature center. "Volunteers help free up professional staff for other duties," Baumer says.

There are a wealth of other opportunities to volunteer within the Department of Conservation. Large public sites, like August A. Busch Conservation Area in St Louis and the James A. Reed Conservation Area near Kansas City, use volunteers to build wildlife and fish habitat and to monitor and survey anglers.

Fisheries management biologists use volunteers to install fish habitat and cedar tree revetments along streams, to help with electrofishing to monitor fish populations and for other fisheries related projects. Wildlife biologists work with volunteers to help with hacking and reintroduction of rare and endangered raptors,

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