Note to Our Readers
I count myself lucky to call the Ozarks home. The license plate on my truck reads “Ozarkr.” It communicates the pride I feel in having grown up in Carter County.
The people of the Ozarks enjoy a unique quality of life due to the abundance of nature that surrounds them. Clear, cool streams teem with life. Trees, grasses and wildflowers cover the rugged hills. Furred, feathered and scaled wildlife fill the valleys and run the ridges. These natural resources also fuel the economic engines of tourism and sustainable forest products that are so important to all who live there.
The Department of Conservation has maintained popular public nature centers in Missouri’s urban areas for several decades. Educational programs are necessary to ensure Missourians understand and value conservation principles. Last April, we dedicated a unique, new conservation education facility in beautiful Shannon County.
Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, on U.S. Highway 60 near Winona, celebrates the wonder and beauty of the Ozarks. Twin Pines serves all citizens but especially the people who call the Ozarks home. It looks not only at our past, but also to our future. By doing so, I hope it inspires Missourians to sustain the richness found there today.
A tour within and around the rustic, wooden building is well worth your time. The site includes an exhibit of an antique sawmill and logging tools, a pond for youth fishing clinics and walking trails through more than 400 hundred acres. These forested areas provide realistic examples for landowner workshops and youth and adult classes in modern forest management.
By studying the heritage of the Ozarks we’re reminded of what happens when we take too much from nature’s bounty. The story of the timber harvest boom and bust of the early 1900s is a focus at Twin Pines and a sober reminder that the land we depend on can give only so much.
The Department of Conservation was formed in 1937 thanks to people who understood the need to give back to the land and to “take” in a sustainable manner. Changing the course of resource conservation is fundamentally about changing the actions of people. Today, due to citizen actions, the natural resources of the Ozarks are healthy and vibrant. We know that understanding nature leads to the desire to manage it wisely and to get outside and enjoy it! By opening the doors to the Ozarks’ past, Twin Pines will help Missourians in that understanding.
Twin Pines is also about educating and inspiring the next generation. Already more than 2,000 students visited in May and June 2008. Our goal is that many school children are able to visit often and learn at Twin Pines.
The great people of the area have already joined in making this a wonderful public place. Usually a corps of volunteers takes time to develop. But, at Twin Pines, there’s a group of dedicated volunteers who have already made major contributions of their time. Volunteers started a youth program called “The Nature Nuts”—even 10-year-olds are taking ownership in Twin Pines and its conservation mission!
The Ozarks is full of natural wonders to explore and enjoy. I hope that Twin Pines inspires you to visit those wonders. I hope it inspires you to learn about them and to act in their favor.
John Hoskins, director