MDC and other conservation partners bring nature home to Boys Hope Girls Hope

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

BRIDGETON, MO – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and other local conservation organizations have teamed up to develop a native tree and plant landscape at the Boys Hope Girls Hope headquarters to create important urban wildlife habitat and reduce landscape maintenance costs.

In addition to MDC, other partnering organizations involved in the native landscape project include the Missouri Master Naturalist (MMN) Confluence Chapter, Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR), Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, South Telegraph Christian Church and Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) employees.

BHGH is an international program committed to helping academically capable and motivated children in-need meet their full potential by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities and education through college. BHGH was founded in St. Louis and has their International Headquarters in Bridgeton. They have 15 affiliates across the U.S., including one in St. Louis and four in Central and South America (

BHGH Human Resources Director Tom Casey said, “Like many not-for-profit organizations today, BHGH’s operational dollars are drying up, and there have been unavoidable reductions in staff and services. As a result, we lack the personnel and funding needed to maintain our existing manicured landscape that is dominated by exotic plant species. This type of landscape is expensive to maintain since it requires irrigation, frequent mowing, and the application of fertilizers and pesticides. The native landscape will save BHGH an estimated $2,500 annually.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that lawn mowers use 580 million gallons of gas each year; thirty to sixty percent of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns; about 67 million pounds of pesticides are placed on lawns each year; and a lawn mower pollutes as much in one hour as a car driving 20 miles.

The new landscape will include plants that are native to Missouri and are better adapted to the local climate. These plants can tolerate periods of wet weather and drought and do not require irrigation or the use of chemicals. Typical maintenance required to establish a native plant landscape includes supplemental irrigation during the first few years and periodic weeding.

BHGH’s native landscape plan was designed by Shaw Nature Reserve and MDC. The plan includes replacing day lilies, yew bushes, and turf grass, along with Bradford pear trees and burning bushes which are both invasive species, with more desirable native species. This native paradise will reduce operational expenses and create beneficial habitat for birds, butterflies, and other important pollinators.

MMN Confluence Chapter volunteers are helping Boys Hope Girls Hope implement and care for the native landscape. The MMN Confluence Chapter has 65 members who share a common interest in nature and in volunteering to help protect, preserve and restore Missouri's natural heritage.

BHGH has received a Community Stewardship Grant through MDC to fund the native landscape project. The grant money will be used to pay for plant material, interpretive signs, mulch, and landscaping equipment. In addition, Shaw Nature Reserve will donate more than 400 native plants for the project and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri donated 44 native trees and shrubs for the native landscape, which were recently planted by the project partners.

Volunteer work days will be scheduled in the spring to remove invasive honeysuckle and plant native wildflowers and grasses.

“We at BHGH are most thankful for our volunteer partners in this project,” Casey said. “While this outstanding effort obviously benefits the young people that BHGH serves, it is our hope that the businesses in the industrial park where we are located can view the natural beauty of our landscape and understand how they can reduce costs and benefit our environment by planting Missouri native plants and trees.”

To learn more about planting natives at home go to or