Springfield Nature Center event recalls famed conservationist

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Ding Darling may have had a whimsical name, but he made a serious impact on how we look at natural resources today.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Springfield Conservation Nature Center will host a live performance of “The Art of Conservation: A Visit with Ding Darling” from 7-8 p.m. on Friday, May 17. The performance features actor Tom Milligan in a first-person portrayal of the legendary conservation activist. This free program is open to all ages. People can register for this program at:

https://mdc-event-web.s3licensing.com/Event/EventDetails/167067 or call 417-888-4237.

Jay Norwood Darling, known best by his nickname “Ding,” 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. His primary platform of communication were his editorial cartoons that appeared in several publications – most notably the Des Moines Register and the New York Tribune – from 1917 to 1949. 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 (the agency that later became 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 Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located in southeast Springfield at 4601 S. Nature Center Way. Call 417-888-4237 or go to mdc.mo.gov/SouthwestEvents for information about this program or other events at the Nature Center.