MDC’s Runge Nature Center hosts conservation legend Ding Darling May 15

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers a chance to meet one of the great founding fathers of the modern conservation movement. Ding Darling may have had a whimsical name, but he left a serious impact on how we look at natural resources even to this day.

MDC’s Runge Conservation Nature Center will host a live performance of The Art of Conservation: A Visit with Ding Darling Wednesday, May 15, 7 - 8:30 p.m. Through a partnership with the Legends of Conservation series, the free performance will feature actor Tom Milligan in a first-person portrayal of the legendary conservation activist.

Jay Norwood Darling, known best by his nickname “Ding” Darling, was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American cartoonist who lived from 1876-1962. A key influencer in the early days of the modern conservation movement, he helped the movement gain momentum in the early- to mid-20th Century. He used his creative talent through his cartoons to promote conservation and wise use of natural resources.

At the appointment of President Franklin Roosevelt, Darling served as head of the U.S. Biological Survey (later to become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). In that capacity, he secured $17 million for wildlife habitat restoration. He also helped found the National Wildlife Federation. His close ties to art led him to establish the Federal Duck Stamp program. The National Audubon Society recognized Darling for his achievements with the Audubon Medal in 1960.

Milligan, a 45-year veteran of theater, gives an insightful performance that brings to life Darling’s passion for nature, his wit, and his journey as a pioneer of modern conservation. His performance offers visitors a rare opportunity to reflect on Darling’s lifework and step into the mind of one of conservation’s forefathers.

The program is free and open to all ages, and no registration is required.  Find more information about this program at

For more information about events at Runge Conservation Nature Center, visit, call (573) 526-5544, or stop by the nature center located at 330 Commerce Drive in Jefferson City.