Up Front With Sara Parker Pauley

By Sara Parker Pauley | April 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2022

Let’s go fishing tomorrow, my husband suggested a few weeks back. But the weekend to-do list was long and a day on the water seemed too frivolous a choice in the moment. We’ll see, I quipped. Later that same day, a friend and his 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, stopped by for a visit. They were giddy with excitement awaiting MDC’s new regulation set to go into effect February 28, expanding biking opportunities on many conservation areas. As hunters, anglers, competitive bike racers, and trail runners, they were already regular users of MDC’s conservation areas, but were ecstatic MDC was opening areas to even more opportunities to recreate.

I asked Sophie why she loved being outside so much. Her reasons ranged from adventures with mom and dad to the fun of races, but ultimately, she said what she liked most was just the opportunity to play, especially in the dirt! Ah, I thought, just for the sheer joy and pleasure of play.

In our ever-demanding society that focuses so much on working more, doing more, all with never enough time in mind, the simplicity and pleasure of outdoor play is often forgotten, as are its benefits — such as calming an overactive mind, improving focus and creativity, and producing greater empathy and connection. (See more on nature’s healing power on Page 10). Sophie reminded me of the power of play. And so, the next day? We headed to the Lake of the Ozarks — and nature cast its healing spell once more. Out of the mouths of babes.

Sara Parker Pauley, Director



This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler