Your Ideas Count!

By Michele Baumer | March 16, 2015
From Missouri Conservationist: Apr 2015

Odds are, the last time you shopped, the cashier circled a website address on your receipt and asked you to complete an online survey. Even before the Internet, businesses used surveys to learn about their customers’ experiences and needs. The results help them improve product selection and service.

Here at the Missouri Department of Conservation, our business is helping you discover, conserve, and enjoy our state’s forests, fish, and wildlife. And, like any good business, we make every effort to keep in touch with our customers’ views, experiences, and needs. As a result, your feedback fuels our harvest regulations, habitat management, and outreach services.

The Department has a long history of asking people about their opinions and interests. These efforts began with the citizen conservation committee that asked Missourians for their opinions before the 1936 election. Listening and surveys continued through the Department’s early years, and in 1978, the Department was the first fish and wildlife agency in the nation to hire a fulltime human dimensions technical expert.

That staff person’s name was Dan Witter, and he began conducting statistically designed surveys to gather public sentiment.

In 1980, Dan conducted the conservation opinion survey in three cities statewide. Ten years later, those efforts expanded to include both urban and rural areas, and it marked the beginning of a core set of similar questions that can be compared over time. The 2013 Conservation Opinion Survey marks the third time this set of questions has been used to survey Missourians. This event makes the Department the only fish and wildlife agency in the nation with a set of three surveys of similar information that has been conducted across two decades.

Every day, Department staff work steadily to listen to Missourians and earn their trust.

Although we can’t reach every adult in the state, the 2013 Opinion Survey has been statistically designed to be representative of all Missouri adults. We mailed a survey to almost 20,000 randomly selected households in Missouri.

The results were weighted to accurately reflect Missouri’s adult population by age, gender, and region.

In 2013, the Department relied on many experts at the University of Missouri in Columbia to complete this survey. The university provided objectivity to the survey and enhanced the Department’s capacity. Using technical experts ensures that the data being presented from the survey is objective, accurate, and reliable.

The 2013 Conservation Opinion Survey shows strong support for the Department and Conservation Priorities

Missourians are interested in conservation

  • 86% of Missourians are familiar with the Department.
  • 89% feel it is important for outdoor places to be protected.
  • 95% of Missourians are interested in forests, fish, and wildlife.

Missourians are interested in observing wildlife

  • 94% Bald eagles
  • 92% Deer
  • 90% Ducks and geese
  • 89% Turkeys
  • 87% Butterflies and ladybugs
  • 80% River otters
  • 66% Bears

Missourians’ interest in conservation remains high

  • 95% Missourians have maintained a strong interest in forests, fish, and wildlife since we first asked this question in 1990.
  • 72% ➭ 86% Familiarity with the Department has significantly increased since 1990.
  • Around 90% of Missourians enjoy watching wildlife.

People are spending more time outdoors in the past 10 years.

We have found the following:

  • Hiking up 10%
  • Biking up 8%
  • Walking up 7%
  • Pistol or rifle shooting up 7%
  • Canoeing/ kayaking/ rafting up 7%


“I’m president of our National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chapter, and my wife, Margaret, and my daughter, Tori, are active as well. We are dedicated to our hunting heritage and like to promote it. Our NWTF Current River Callers Jacks Fork JAKES Chapter and MDC’s Twin Pine Conservation Education Center co-host a JAKES Day and Extreme JAKES Day. These events expose kids to hunting, conservation, and outdoor education. I think it is all about education and carrying on our hunting heritage to the next generation.” The McAfees appeared in An Ordinary Outdoor Girl — Accessible conservation facilities allow Tori and others with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors in the January 2009 Missouri Conservationist.

Missourians are satisfied with the Department

Two-thirds rated the Department as good or excellent for providing services for the following:

  • 67% Themselves
  • 65% Family
  • 64% Community
  • 68% State
  • 65% Almost two-thirds of Missourians agree the Department is doing a good job enforcing fish and wildlife laws.


”Hunting Swan Lake and the other managed hunts for hunters with disabilities is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and meet others who face the same challenges. We always have a great time on all the hunts we go to,” says Brandon. The Hubers’ story, Missouri Deer Hunting: Opportunity for All, appeared in the July 2014 Missouri Conservationist

Missourians trust the Department

  • 76% of Missourians agree the Department is a name they can trust.
  • 76% of Missourians agree that they cannot imagine the state without the Department

Missourians support conservation activities

  • Missourians agree that it is important for places to be protected even if they don’t plan to visit the area. 89%
  • The Department should designate natural areas to protect Missouri’s best examples of forests, prairies, marshes, and glades. 82%
  • Over three-quarters agree that the Department should help private landowners who want to restore native communities of plants and animals. 77% The Department should conserve and restore rare and endangered plants. 77% Over three quarters agree the Department should make an effort to restore animals that once lived or currently are very rare in Missouri. 76%


“I am not a hunter, fisherman, or trapper, and I never use the shooting ranges. Still, the Department of Conservation is a major factor in my life. I’m one of Missouri’s 2.5 million birders, and I have visited 1,050 conservation areas on birding trips. I am amazed at the magnitude and frugal use of tax dollars to make our conservation areas the best birding spots in the state.” Bill’s interest in birding was featured in I Am Conservation in the April 2010

Missouri Conservationist.

There are still obstacles to outdoor participation

  • “Not enough time” is the major obstacle keeping Missourians from participating in outdoor activities.


“I look at participating in outdoor activities, such as fishing, as a way of life. Conservation is a part of me. You have to take care of it like your own body.” Carl’s photo appeared on the cover of the June 2006 Missouri Conservationist. His passion for pursuing big blue catfish at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers was featured in the story, Catching Big River Blues, by Danny Brown.

Meeting Your Needs

Since its beginning almost 80 years ago, the Department has depended on citizen involvement to help it achieve its many world-class accomplishments. In addition to helping restore the state’s depleted forests, fish, and wildlife, citizens voted to provide dedicated and stable funding in 1976, amending the Missouri Constitution to create a funding source that other states continue to envy nearly 40 years later. At every step, the citizenry of Missouri has spoken, taken action, and provided funding to help the Department achieve their goals.

The Department knows that citizen support is essential, and we strive to maintain Missourians’ trust in our management. The Department’s job is to listen, understand, and personally deliver programs and services in a manner that benefits all Missourians and the forest, fish, and wildlife resources in our state. Following are several ways the Department stays in touch with your needs, ideas, and requests:

  • The Conservation Commission meets regularly around the state. Anyone may contact the Director’s office at Department Headquarters (find the phone number on Page 3) with comments or request to appear at a Commission meeting.
  • Department regulations are formed and discussed in a public setting, and citizens may request time on the agenda.
  • The Department seeks public input on proposed regulations through a variety of venues, including the Department’s regulation comment Web page at
  • Department staff answer questions and address concerns via AskMDC, a service you can access through regular mail, telephone, and email. Selected questions and answers appear monthly on Page 5, where you can find all AskMDC contact information.
  • The Department has conducted attitude, opinion, satisfaction, and participation surveys for more than 30 years. It continues to conduct a wide variety of statistically accountable mail surveys, telephone surveys, and focus groups to determine Missourians’ opinions and attitudes about conservation and the Department.
  • Conservation area management plans are available for public comment as they are drafted. Browse to comment on them.
  • The Department has eight regional service centers with staff available to assist Missourians with their conservation requests and needs.
  • The Department maintains an extensive website ( with conservation information, contact information, and online comment forms.
  • The Department conducts frequent public forums to obtain interactive feedback from all Missourians at locations throughout the state.

Your ideas and opinions really do count!

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler