Joplin residents Wade and June Shelton enjoyed watching birds in their back yard and could be seen strolling along Shoal Creek. Before retirement, Wade worked as a receiving clerk with Vickers Hydraulics. June worked a number of years as a programmer for a local television station. Having no children, they wanted their legacy to be one that would provide Missourians with additional outdoor opportunities and at the same time preserve natural habitat for Missouri’s wildlife. To make their plans become a reality, they selected the Missouri Department of Conservation as beneficiary of their estate and, in 1983, began working with department staff to ensure that their lifetime of savings would be used to fund a land purchase to benefit southwest Missouri and its residents. “No bits and pieces,” Wade said.
June passed away in 1983 not long after their first contact with the Department. Wade passed away in October 2007 following a short illness. Through saving and sound investments, the Sheltons left a gift of over $1,007,000. Mindful that the Sheltons desired that either prairie or forest land in southwest Missouri be purchased with their gift, in June of 2009 the Department acquired a 320 acre tract in Dade County that consists almost entirely of native prairie. The Wade and June Shelton Memorial Conservation Area, named to honor the conservation legacy of these two Missourians, is known to provide nesting, brood rearing, and escape cover for a flock of greater prairie chickens.