Citizen volunteers receive state conservation honors

News from the region
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Surveys have shown Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife. That citizen conservation ethic was clearly evidenced by southwest Missouri's honorees at this year's Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) Awards Banquet.

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Green of Walnut Shade received CFM's Youth Conservationist of the Year Award for his conservation-oriented volunteer work, the bulk of which took place at the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery near Branson. The Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist chapter received the CFM's Conservation Organization of the Year. These individuals were recognized at the CFM Awards Banquet March 20 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. Each year, CFM recognizes volunteers and professionals for their efforts to improve and protect our natural resources.

Green has shown his passion for the outdoors through a variety of tasks he's taken on at Shepherd of the Hills. These duties include assisting with spawning and sorting trout, greeting people at the front desk and assisting with Shepherd's Family Fishing Fair, Vulture Venture, and Earth Day programs. He also gave tours of the hatchery. Besides his work at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, Green volunteered for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources at Roaring River State Park near Cassville. In his four years at Shepherd of the Hills, Green has also been involved with recruiting more volunteers and mentoring them.

"I would be very impressed with Ethan's accomplishments if he were a college student or a young adult," said Shepherd of the Hills Interpretive Center Manager John Miller. "The fact that he was in high school and he was able to accomplish these things is truly noteworthy. Ethan's passion and enthusiasm for conservation is second to none."

The Springfield Plateau Master Naturalist Chapter is part of the Missouri Master Naturalist Program, a community-based natural resource education and volunteer program of MDC and the University of Missouri Extension. The program's purpose is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide services pertaining to natural resource management.

The volunteer efforts of the Springfield Plateau Chapter were numerous and diverse. A few of the chapter's long list of activities in 2014 included:

  • Surveyed quail on several Missouri Department of Conservation prairies
  • Surveyed mushrooms at Springfield's Valley Water Mill Park and noted several species that had not previously been recorded in Missouri
  • Monitored seven urban springs in Springfield for water quality
  • Conducted invasive species plant control at La Petite Gemme Prairie in Polk County, one of Missouri's designated Natural Areas.
  • Restored riparian corridors along two of Springfield's urban creeks – Fassnight and South creeks
  • Conducted education program for University of Missouri Extension's early childhood day.
  • Developed a Bear Education Guide that were used at several educational events in southwest Missouri in association with the MDC's Bear Education trunks
  • Developed a neighborhood Conservation Day event in Springfield's Center City area.

"The Springfield Plateau Chapter of Master Naturalists has demonstrated commitment to the natural resources of southwest Missouri in a number of ways," said MDC Conservation Education Consultant Jay Barber. "Last year (2014) alone, they volunteered over 6,500 hours and cumulatively, since the chapter's inception (2006), they have volunteered 38,200 hours."

More information about volunteer opportunities with MDC can be found at