Nature Lab at Work

By Angie Daly Morfeld | April 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2023

Malissa Briggler: State Botanist

As the state botanist, Malissa Briggler serves as MDC’s plant expert. While not a professionally educated mycologist, or person who studies fungi, she also lends her expertise to mushroom identification.

Malissa Briggler
Noppadol Paothong
Right to Use

A Typical Day

Daily tasks change with the seasons, Malissa says. Rare plant surveys begin as early as March and can last through October. Sometimes she conducts them in the field, but more often she receives the reports from other biologists throughout the state and enters the data into the Missouri Natural Heritage Database. To coordinate the Missouri Ginseng Program, her work involves agent training in the spring, monitoring in the summer, and harvest data collection in the fall. Many questions come for plant and mushroom identification throughout the year, but mostly in the spring, summer, and fall. The work she does for various articles, reports, and publications is done primarily in the winter.

“The overall mission of the department goes beyond fish and game management. The work I do is essential to protecting and managing the flora and habitat for nongame wildlife.”

Project She’s Most Proud Of

“I’m proud of being a part of the Missouri Natural Heritage Program,” Malissa says. “This program includes major contributions by some heroic botanists in Missouri over the past 100 years.”

This program tracks rare species and natural communities. It not only helps to inform management decisions and strategic planning for MDC, but it is also used by other agencies to assess environmental impacts for development projects, learn more about the distribution and abundance of rare species and natural communities, and advise conservation partners and private landowners.

Source of Her Passion

Malissa grew up in Callaway County and always liked the outdoors. As a child, she thought working for the department would be fun.

“I have a job that I truly enjoy and that is a special gift not to be taken for granted,” Malissa says. “I also strive to live up to the reputation of MDC. We are regarded as one of the best state wildlife agencies in the country. I’m proud of that and want it to stay that way.”

How You Can Help

Contact Malissa at with plant or mushroom questions. “Many citizens call with a question and the first thing they do is apologize for bothering me,” Malissa says. “It’s never a bother, and their questions have made me a better botanist and amateur mycologist over the years. I appreciate that!”

Her Education

  • Bachelor’s degree, Lincoln University: agriculture, emphasis in natural resources.
  • Master’s degree, University of Nebraska: range and forage management. Her thesis focused on prairie restoration.

Explore career opportunities at MDC at


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