Six months ago we asked readers to send in stories about "random acts of conservation" - people or groups who selflessly promoted conservation for the common good. All of the responses show a concern for people and the benefits nature bestows.
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City developed a "grounds ministry" eight years ago. A member of the grounds committee, Mary Gerken, writes that, "Abiding Peace has tried to create an environment that provides habitat and sanctuary for birds and butterflies, as well as a place where people can go to contemplate the wonders of creation."
The nature trail and community garden serve the entire community. People of all ages enjoy the dozens of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers planted by church members. An Eagle Scout project recently provided a picnic table and benches. "We have put up bird houses, built water gardens and planted a wildflower meadow to meet the need for food, water and shelter for the creatures who are beginning to call our grounds home, or who are just migrating through," wrote Gerken.
Sue Wilson of Sedalia observed how her 14-year-old son, Curtis Bastion, set an example for a younger neighbor who was keeping a "pet" toad in an ice cream bucket. Curtis offered to help the five-year-old find a more suitable home for the toad in its natural habitat, while discussing what toads eat and how they live. "Next Curtis brought out his box of collectible toy cars. He let the boy choose and keep two cars as a reward for returning the toad to its natural habitat." His mother added, "With a little caring and gentle teaching, Curtis passed on knowledge and respect for a living creature."
John A. Dillingham of Kansas City has a unique way to honor his friends and beautify his community.
"John takes the time personally to mark special occasions for friends by planting a native hard maple tree in their yards," writes his friend, Conservation Commissioner Anita Gorman.
"When a child is born, or when a loved one dies, or when someone has a special anniversary, John goes to one of his farms, digs the trees up himself and plants the maple personally. As a result, our Clay County community abounds in hard maple trees, as John has been doing this random act of kindness for more than 20 years... The trees are nice in the spring, lovely in the summer, and spectacular in the fall."
Harold and June Cox of Joplin started a not-for profit organization to help bluebirds. Begun just last December, "Project Bluebird of North America" has already placed 300 nesting boxes, successfully fledged 130 birds and garnered more than 15 volunteers to make boxes and monitor their contents.
The couple has placed boxes at area golf courses, cemeteries, private residences and at the campus of Missouri Southern College.
"I read an article in 1977 or '78 about how bluebirds are in trouble because of competition from sparrows and starlings for nesting sites," Harold Cox explained. "The main thing is getting information out to people so they can help." Have they made a difference? "In our little area, you can hardly drive down the street at certain times of the year without seeing bluebirds."
(Project Bluebird will furnish bluebird house plans and care information on request. Write to: Project Bluebird, 2893-C Crystal Lake Drive, Joplin, 64804.)
If you know of other groups or individuals who deserve to be recognized for their fish, forestry or wildlife conservation efforts, write to the Missouri Conservationist, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180.
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