What is it about a potluck-style meal that remains a staple of our culture, especially in summer, despite a world of fast food and fast pace? There’s something to be said for breaking bread together and sharing a favorite family dish or a funny story that brings a community together around a table. We are encouraged to slow down, savor the moment, and enjoy fellowship together. And it never fails that individuals bringing what they have to share collectively creates a feast for all who come.
I was fortunate enough to attend a brunch potluck a few weeks ago at the Conservation Department’s Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in downtown Kansas City. This neighborhood event, hosted by Missouri State Senator S. Kiki Curls, was designed to build relationships between the department and community leaders in the University of Missouri–Kansas City’s Center for Neighborhoods, which serves as a catalyst for addressing challenges in city neighborhoods. What transpired was an inspiring conversation. We heard from people about conservation and how we can build upon our efforts in the urban core. How do we make a difference together?
As I was headed home from this incredible community event, my mind reflected back to our 80-year history of conservation, the voices that have made a difference, and all the changes we’ve seen along the way. The list of changes is long — from the recovery of wildlife populations once in drastic decline to now having access to nearly 1,000 conservation areas, comprising nearly 1 million acres of public land, to explore.
And yet, we also recognize that our society is increasingly urbanized and diverse, and the time spent outdoors for many is significantly decreasing. But we know that great opportunities come out of complex challenges, including in conservation.
What hasn’t changed much in the past 80 years is the importance of people and partnerships (see More Wildlife For All). We must continue to gather together for a common purpose and give what we can of ourselves for the larger cause of conservation, knowing the whole is always greater than the sum of our individual efforts. It’s amazing the powerful lessons you can learn from a potluck!
—Sara Parker Pauley, director
Throughout this issue you’ll find highlights of the department’s 80-year history. Everything we do today builds on our past, pushing us to take care of our future. Partnerships are ingrained in our conservation history. With the support of citizen groups like the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the department brought wildlife back to Missouri.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler