Conservation by the Numbers
More than 65,000 copies of Outside In are sent four times a year to 2,169 schools and day-care centers.
Requests for publications, films and videos have also increased. The Conservation Department responded by providing more conservation information in the form of books, brochures, calendars and other publications.
"Missouri Outdoors," the Conservation Department's half-hour, 13-week television series aired this year on 32 network affiliates and independent and cable stations. During the last fiscal year, the Department provided conservation-based public service announcements to 220 radio stations.
The Conservation Department's website, www.mdc.mo.gov, doubled its volume over last year, serving up 5.4 million pages to more than one-half million visitors.
Kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students throughout the state receive Woollyworm, Tadpole and Crawdad, respectively. These student newspapers help children understand conservation concepts. The Conservation Department also encourages kids to participate in outdoor pursuits by hosting numerous kids fishing fairs and holding youth-only hunts for deer and waterfowl on conservation areas.
Conservation's future seems exceptionally bright given the increasing number of volunteers willing to work on its behalf. The Stream Team program began in 1989, and there are now 1,662 Stream Teams in the state. The teams include more than 30,000 people who pick up litter, build fish habitat and stream improvement structures, and monitor pollution in adopted streams or sections of a streams.
Volunteers also help communicate the message of conservation at nature centers throughout the state. For example, during the last fiscal year volunteers logged 11,236 hours at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, which serves the St. Louis area.
Each year, about 1,600 volunteers teach nearly 1,100 hunter education classes during which new hunters and young hunters learn about firearms, hunting and hunting safety.
Also encouraging is the fact that we are recruiting new members into the ranks of outdoorspeople. The number of women who hunt with firearms has increased 15 percent within the last decade, and they now represent nearly 11 percent of the overall hunting population. The number of female anglers has also steadily increased.
The Conservation Department's "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" program helps women learn outdoor skills. All 14 workshops-one each spring and fall since 1994-have been filled to their capacity of 110. "Beyond Becoming an Outdoors-Women" workshops have provided in-depth outdoor experiences and training to more than 500 women since the program began in 1997.
These pages only touch on the wealth of programs and activities that keep conservation working in Missouri. Researchers are counting mussels, monitoring wildlife diseases, surveying caves and keeping track of insects. They census anglers and hunters, search for rare plant species and perform a bevy of other studies too numerous to mention.
Also not noted here are the efforts of Conservation Department workers who feed fish at hatcheries, build boat ramps and access roads, maintain campgrounds and perform the work to support a large conservation organization and serve the public.
We've seen remarkable changes since 1976, when the Design for Conservation Plan was initiated by voters. Since that time, Conservation Department revenues have increased eight-fold, while the number of salaried employees has doubled. A higher percentage of the budget now goes toward community projects and landowner assistance.
The benefits of conservation are easy to tally. Our forests are increasing, our recreational opportunities have grown, our wildlife base has improved, and we have become one of the most respected wildlife agencies in the country.
Although we have taken a big step forward, the next step for conservation will involve a shift in attitude from the residents of the state funding a conservation organization to a populace that directly involves itself in the conservation of our natural wealth.
Portents of the future are showing up today in the increasing number of conservation volunteers, in the escalating demand for more outdoors-related information and in heightened interest among private landowners in joining forces with the Conservation Department to improve their land for wildlife.
The organization, programs and mechanisms are in place. We now move into a new century of conservation, in which the people will take a more active part in determining the fate of Missouri's natural resources.