LAKE OZARK, Mo. – With more than 93 percent of Missouri’s land privately owned, conservation depends on current and future landowners as well as professional conservationists.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) works with thousands of landowners to employ the best land-management practices that sustain healthy land and conserve the state’s forests, fish and wildlife. MDC also invests in the future of conservation by educating some of the state’s future landowners and managers through a partnership with the Missouri FFA Organization.
MDC coordinates “Conservation Day” at Missouri FFA Leadership Camp once a week each of the six weeks it is offered during June and July. Held at Lake of the Ozarks State Park’s Camp Rising Sun, the week-long camp draws about 200 students. Students participate in leadership-education sessions and various recreation activities.
For one morning of the five-day camp, conservation experts teach responsible land-management practices for FFA students to use in their futures as potential farmers, landowners and agricultural leaders.
“Conservation is an important aspect of farming and agriculture,” said Jessica Kueffer, FFA Camp leadership director. “Owning and managing land means being responsible for it as well as the wildlife that depend on it for habitat.”
Conservation Day introduces students to ongoing conservation concerns through six hands-on learning stations taught by MDC staff. This year’s topics included ethics and legality of hunting and fishing; current species of interest in Missouri such as mountain lions, black bears, feral hogs and armadillos; tree measurement as part of forest management; chainsaw safety; and fish identification and biology as well as myths associated with Missouri waters.
“FFA students represent the future landowners of Missouri,” said MDC Education Outreach Coordinator Briedi Scott. “MDC is investing in the continued health of our land and resources by educating future landowners on good conservation practices for farmland and the habitat surrounding it. We want them to look at the bigger picture, beyond their fields and their current situations—the water, the plants and the wildlife around their land—to be able to plan for future success.”
For more information on private-land conservation, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2089. For information on other MDC education programs, visit mdc.mo.gov/education.