The Missouri Department of Conservation strives for the best conservation of forest, fish and wildlife resources in Missouri. That was why the Conservation Department was created in 1936, and it is still the driving force behind everything we do.
Working for conservation of the state's natural resources means working with private landowners, because 84 percent of the land in Missouri is privately owned. Maintaining a healthy, productive environment means individual landowners need to participate in the process--they are the key to the future. That is the whole reason for having demonstration farms.
Although they are privately owned farms, demonstration farms are open to the public during supervised tours arranged by the Conservation Department. These tours allow other landowners to meet on the property and look it over for ideas.
Showing is generally more effective than just telling. Looking at an example of a wildlife food plot, while someone explains it, seems to make the idea much easier to understand. Demonstration farms show people what is possible with the land, and that there are a lot of options for them.
Fears also may be reduced by visiting a demonstration farm. The thought of a timber sale may stir up images of destruction and pillage to some landowners, but standing in a beautiful forest on a demonstration farm while the host explains the process of a timber sale that took place on that very spot just a couple of years ago may help calm some fears.
Getting landowners to recognize the potential for similar practices on their own land--whether it's fencing cattle out of the woods, protecting an eroding streambank with trees or developing a wildlife watering hole--is the purpose for inviting them to a demonstration farm.
"I went on one of those demonstration tours and came back with all kinds of ideas," says Roger Brode of Cedar County, and that got him interested in becoming a demonstration farmer. "Now maybe they can come here to mine and say, 'yeah, I could do that.'"
Demonstration farms are privately owned lands where conservation practices already are in place and working to improve the productivity of the farm. "I bet all the work we've done has made this place worth twice as much as it was when we got it, because the timber is growing so much better," says Barry County demonstration farmer Ralph McAllister.
We choose farms for demonstrations because they show a variety of activities that promote overall good stewardship of