Note To Our Readers

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Conservation Enriches Our Lives

On this particular morning in mid-February, the cold temperature and snow-covered ground proclaimed winter was going to be around for a few more weeks. I had taken a long hike on my family’s Moniteau County property in search of antler sheds. This outing was to exercise both the body and mind.

Standing in a timbered draw among mature white oak trees, the activities of nearby birds—white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmouse and black-capped chickadees—captured my attention. I watched and listened as they communicated my presence throughout the valley. These animals seemed to recognize the importance of communicating to all.

Compared to past generations, surveys show Missourians’ lifestyles both at work and home have evolved into fastpaced, technology-savvy and multi-tasked heavy workload settings. This fact combined with the growing size and diversity of our state’s population heightens the importance of communicating the conservation message through a mix of traditional and new approaches.

During the past year, the Department has completed development of educational units that teach science requirements through focusing on specific conservation examples within our state. These educational units meet state testing standards and are available for elementary through high school students. A kindergarten through second-grade unit and a preschool unit are also in development and will be available in fall 2011 and 2012 respectively. Currently, more than 140 school districts are utilizing these classroom materials. Feedback from teachers and students has been positive. I encourage all teachers to explore use of these materials. Wouldn’t it be great if all Missouri students could experience an educational unit on conservation to better ensure they understand the connections between conserving forests, fish and wildlife and the quality of their own lives?

As citizens continue to grow in their reliance on modern technology as a communication venue, the Department has initiated some proactive steps. Technologies ranging from our interactive website to Facebook posts to specific conservation applications for smart phones have enhanced the Department’s ability to communicate with unprecedented speed. From the more than 3.1 million unique Web visitors each year to the 26,000-plus Facebook fans, feedback has been encouraging. These communication venues allow citizens easy access to the most up-to-date information including conservation messages, management assistance, information on specific conservation areas and daily posts on timely news. In addition, technology has allowed the Department to begin delivering key information directly to individuals, select stakeholder groups and the general public, versus requiring them to contact the Department.

Combined with traditional methods such as public meetings, surveys, news releases and radio spots, we will continue to develop and utilize new communication approaches in the future. It is tremendously important to ensure that all citizens, regardless of age or location within our state, have an opportunity to learn about and understand the importance of Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife resources. As I completed my hike that day in February, the simplicity of nature had reinforced the importance of open communications.

Robert L. Ziehmer, director

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