Nature Lab at Work

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

Dana Ripper

co-director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory

Dana Ripper co-founded the Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) in 2010 with her husband, Ethan Duke. The nonprofit grew from their bird banding operation at the Grand Pass Conservation Area (CA) in Saline County.

Man and woman standing in a field of tall grass
Cliff White
Right to Use

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

“Our work with MDC has been critical to the development of the Missouri River Bird Observatory,” Dana said.

Their first partnership with MDC was an education grant. The funding allowed them to bring children to Grand Pass CA for hands-on learning in nature.

In 2013, MRBO partnered with MDC to survey grassland birds on MDC lands and partnering private lands. Grassland birds are among the most imperiled birds in the United States. This 10-year statewide study not only provides information on bird populations but informs proper habitat management.

“Whether it’s grassland science or education projects, neither would be possible without partnering with MDC.” — Dana Ripper

Committed to Conservation

Conservation is at the root of all MRBO’s work. If it doesn’t have a clear application to conservation, we don’t do it, Dana says.

“We are all living in a time of a major tipping point,” Dana said. “We are in a climate crisis, habitats are imperiled, and almost all species — birds, plants, insects — are in decline. It requires constant vigilance to keep species from declining any further.”

How You Can Help

Visit the MRBO website at There you can contribute to their work, find out about upcoming events, sign up for information, and more.

“Education is key,” Dana said. “Educate yourselves on conservation policies and ecosystems and why they are important. I’m still learning every day.”

Explore career opportunities at MDC at

Her Education
  • Bachelor’s degree, North Central College, Naperville, IL: biology
  • Master’s degree, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR: wildlife ecology

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