On September 10, 1935, nearly 100 forward thinking Missourians gathered at Columbia’s Tiger Hotel to discuss the sad state of Missouri’s forests, fish and wildlife. They formed the Conservation Federation of Missouri and launched a movement to revolutionize natural resource management.
They worked tirelessly to put a proposal for a new science-based Conservation Commission on the ballot. On November 3, 1936, voters approved the measure by one of the largest margins by which any amendment to the state constitution had ever passed. On July 1, 1937, the constitutional amendment creating the Missouri Conservation Commission took effect, and with it the Department of Conservation was formed.
But the Conservation Federation of Missouri didn’t stop there. From the original 100, its ranks have grown to tens of thousands. The Federation became known as “the strong right arm of conservation.”
Today, the Federation continues to actively lead and support conservation efforts in Missouri and throughout the nation. It is the state’s oldest and largest private citizen conservation organization, with more than 90,000 individuals and 80 affiliated groups.
Since its successful early efforts, the Federation has undertaken many other battles to ensure that Missouri remains the nation’s conservation leader. In 1976, it spearheaded a successful citizen initiative for the one eighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax. This dedicated sales tax provides stable funding for the long-term efforts required for the conservation of fish, forests and wildlife.
Over the years, the Federation has helped to develop and coordinate some of the most innovative and successful citizen-action programs in the world, including Missouri Stream Teams, Operation Game Thief, Project Forest Arson, Share the Harvest and the annual Conservation Leadership Corps. These opportunities have allowed Missourians to get involved in conservation and have served as models for other states.