Up Front with Sara Parker Pauley

By Sara Parker Pauley | August 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: August 2023

The old cemetery at the end of my grandparents’ road was a place of great intrigue. By day, I’d stroll among the headstones and imagine the life stories of the names I saw etched there. But by night, largely due to my brothers’ capacity for ghost stories, it took on an unwelcoming aura. (More on the welcoming aspects of nature found in cemeteries on Page 21).

I’ve always considered myself a morning girl, but when life takes me out of this rhythm, there are grand rewards for venturing outdoors at night — from the chilling nocturnal calls of the wild and the brilliance of falling stars, to the moonlight migration of geese. Writer Henry Beston asks, “Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of the night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of the stars?” 

Since nature never sleeps, neither does the work of the Missouri Department of Conservation. Long after I’ve called it a day, there are MDC team members just getting started. Conservation agents patrol and protect our wildlife all times of the day and night and hatchery staff work round the clock to ensure our warm- and cold-water hatchery-raised fish are ready for stocking. From biologists surveying frogs or bats to team members committed to deer and waterfowl management, graveyard shifts are a necessity in this line of work.

Here’s to the night owls of conservation — for their passion and dedication — and for being a light shining in the darkness of night.

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