This year the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is celebrating 80 years of serving nature and Missourians.

MDC was founded by Missourians — concerned by the state’s decimated fish, forests, and wildlife — through a constitutional amendment passed in 1936 to create the nation’s first apolitical conservation agency in 1937.

Keeping with its tradition of citizen-based conservation, MDC will hold open houses around the state in August through October to share information and gather public feedback.

MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley will be at all open houses to share insights on the department’s history, conservation priorities, and challenges on the horizon. Each open house will also include comments by local community leaders.

Attendees are encouraged to give feedback on MDC regulations, infrastructure, strategic priorities, and statewide and local conservation issues.

No registration is required. Refreshments will be served. The first 80 attendees at each open house will receive a special gift from MDC.

“Citizen involvement and participation have always been important to the Department of Conservation,” said Pauley. “Whether through gathering input from hunters on deer season regulations, or hikers and birdwatchers on how a conservation area should be managed, we value public input. We want to hear from you.”

Join MDC from 6-8 p.m. at the following open houses:

• Sept. 7 at the MDC Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road in Kirkwood.

• Sept. 26 at Kemper Recital Hall in Spratt Hall 101 on the Missouri Western State University campus where the MDC northwest regional office is located, 4525 Downs Drive in St. Joseph.

• Oct. 10 at the MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way in Springfield.

• Oct. 12, at the MDC Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, 20086 Highway 60 in Winona.

• Oct. 26 at the MDC Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave. in Kansas City.

MDC will also gather public feedback at the following events:

• Sept. 9-16 at the SEMO District Fair in Cape Girardeau.

• Sept. 21-23 at “Hootin an Hollarin” in Gainesville.

• Sept. 23 at National Hunting and Fishing Day in Hannibal.

• Sept. 30 at the South Farm Showcase in Columbia.

• Oct. 15 at MDC’s Poosey Fall Driving Tour in northwest Livingston County.

By Eleanor C. Hasenbeck