Director of the Foundation a champion of conservation

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Over the next two years, the new executive director of the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation said the organization plans to raise funds to support major conservation initiatives.

Tricia Burkhardt became executive director in September, but has been with the foundation for three years.

She said many people think the foundation is part of the Missouri Department of Conservation, but it isn’t. The foundation is a non-profit organization that financially supports MDC’s mission and priorities, but they are separate entities.

“We raise money for MDC projects, and they can work with us to get grants that they might not otherwise have because we are a non-profit organization,” Burkhardt said.

One area of ​​interest is regenerative agriculture. By definition, this type of agriculture is a system of agricultural principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and improve the entire ecosystem of the farm by giving great importance to soil health with attention also paid to water management, the use of fertilizers, etc.

“Over 93 percent of Missouri’s land is privately owned,” Burkhardt said. “We have to rely on these landowners for help with habitat management, because without it you don’t have much. Some of the practices we could help them use include planting cover crops to keep the soil in place, which also helps with water quality. Farmers can still be productive and introduce these practices at the same time. Most, if not all, farmers also love to hunt, so working to keep the land viable for deer and turkeys is something they always care about.

After graduating from the University of Missouri, Burkhardt began working in public relations with agricultural and animal health organizations in Iowa. It was there that she met her husband, Matt, who is the head brewer of the Public House Brewing Company. When Matt was hired for his job, it allowed the couple to return to Burkhardt’s family farm in Freeburg.

“This is the farm my dad and I grew up on, and it’s a century old farm,” Burkhardt said. “I was able to do marketing for the brewery and it was a great experience because it showed me the help businesses need from an agency like the Missouri Heritage Foundation.”

The foundation continues to work to help MDC with its clean water initiatives. Burkhardt said they are working to set up a program with the Missouri Craft Brewers Guild where, if customers purchase certain beers, a portion of the proceeds is donated to help clean water initiatives.

One of the programs the foundation is most proud of is the National School Archery Program. The foundation helps MDC organize the state tournament in Branson.

“In March, we had over 3,500 children drawn in this tournament,” said Burkhardt. “It was amazing and great to see because a week before the tournament was held in 2020, we had to cancel it due to the pandemic.

“This program has such an impact on children because they learn discipline and self-confidence and is very inclusive,” continued Burkhardt. “Even people with disabilities can shoot. “

Brukhardt said a teenage competitor she remembers had recovered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

“He left his feeding tube when he was 14 or 15 and he loved watching hunting shows,” Burkhardt said. “It turned out that the school in his town had an archery program and his coach was working with him. Ultimately, he was recognized as the most improved member of the team. It allowed her to make friends and it just shows how the program can bring children together in a unique way. “

The implications of what the foundation can do are far reaching, said Burkhardt, “Because if you can involve a few in something, it will get bigger. “

“We want to connect with people and help them enjoy nature where they are,” she added. “You don’t have to go 10 to 30 miles away. You can enjoy the places basically in your back yard.


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