MDC hires two new conservation educators in southwest Missouri

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Lyle Whittaker and Morgan Rodery hope to combine their knowledge as educators with their love of the outdoors to show southwest Missouri teachers how conservation can provide valuable and innovative educational tools.

On May 17, Whittaker and Rodery begin their duties as Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) conservation educators in southwest Missouri. Whittaker will work out of MDC’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield and will work with elementary, middle school, and high school educators in Greene, Dallas, and Laclede counties. He replaces Greg Collier, who is now MDC’s agricultural liaison.

Rodery will work out of MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center in Branson and will work with educators in Barry, Stone, Taney, Webster, and Christian counties. She replaces Jay Barber, who recently retired.

Whittaker, a Fair Grove native and a graduate of Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), taught vocational agriculture for 31 years before coming to MDC. The first five years of his teaching career were spent at Mansfield R-4 Schools and the next 26 were at Miller R-2 Schools.

“My life calling is education,” Whittaker said. “The conservation educator position mixes my love and knowledge of the outdoors and conservation with the passion I have for educating folks about our great Missouri outdoors.”

Rodery is a native of Rogersville and a graduate of Missouri State University (MSU). The past two years, she taught a biology lab at MSU. Prior to that, she worked part-time as an angler educator for MDC and also was an education volunteer at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield.

“I’m excited about this job because I think I have always been a conservation educator at heart,” she said. “I absolutely love being able to connect people with nature, especially when it is through a learning experience. The outdoors is for everyone and I hope that, through this position, I will be able to positively benefit the people of Missouri and get more people outside.”

Whittaker and Rodery will provide opportunities for teachers to work with MDC’s Discover Nature Schools (DNS) program. DNS is a state-wide conservation-based education program that incorporates outdoors learning into a variety of school subjects. DNS emphasizes hands-on learning, teaches problem-solving and provides teachers with innovative outdoors-based options to add variety to their curriculums. Information about the DNS program can be found at:

Besides working with teachers on DNS curriculums, Whittaker and Rodery will also coordinate hunter education classes and certification for their respective counties and they will also promote the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) to schools in their counties.

Whittaker will work out of MDC’s Southwest Regional Office (2630 N. Mayfair Ave., Springfield) and can be reached at 417-895-6880, ext. 1644 or at Rodery can be reached at 417-334-4865 or at