How to help the younger generation connect with nature is one of the challenges Missouri Department of Conservation Director Sara Parker Pauley was seeking answers for at the second annual Missouri Conservation Partners Roundtable.
Gov. Mike Parson gave the opening remarks to a crowd of more than 150 partners from across the state at the event, which took place Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center.
The event allowed the Missouri Department of Conservation to receive feedback from citizens about the department's work and better ways to serve constituents.
Parson said in his opening remarks that he enjoys going out and seeing the beauty of the state and that it's crucial to preserve it.
"You know, I've got them farm roots in me a little bit, so, you know, it's important to me that, well, we be good stewards of the land," Parson said.
Partnerships are important to being successful in this, he said.
He brought up infrastructure and workforce development, saying that these two issues are vital for the state of Missouri to protect and preserve the way of life for its citizens. Missouri has done little for infrastructure in over 20 years, he said.
"We want to be able to have good people out here in Missouri that have good jobs, and we want to have the ability to bring other people into this state," Parson said.
It's important to teach future generations about how to be responsible citizens, he said.
Parson thanked the department for all it does and represents for Missouri.
As a state government agency created by citizens, it is critically important for the department to maintain a connection with the people of Missouri, Pauley said. This event allowed the department to have face time with those people.
Missouri has a special legacy in relation to the outdoors, she said, and while there's a role for government in its preservation, there's also a role for the citizens.
Participants split up into roundtable groups to discuss issues relating to conservation.
Missouri has become a much more urbanized state, and there's a younger generation coming up that has a different relationship with nature than previous generations have.
One topic the department wanted to focus on at the event was how to make sure that younger generations understand the value of nature and how the department can better help them to understand that value, Pauley said.
"They're going to have to be the caretakers into the future," Pauley said. "They're going to have to ensure we've got a healthy and abundant fish and wildlife, air and water quality in this state."
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit.