Our MO Humanities Outdoors program explores Missouri’s natural heritage—how it shapes our state’s identity, how Missourians have shaped and been shaped by its natural surroundings, and the role we have in utilizing and caring for our lands and natural environment.

MO Humanities Outdoors provides an opportunity to showcase community-based stories and efforts to care for Missouri’s natural environment. As each program digs into the natural and cultural heritage of a place, MO Humanities Outdoors sparks thoughtful dialogue around the intricate relationship between people and the environment, and how the humanities can help us better understand and find common ground as we look at the environmental strengths and challenges facing a particular area—its local community, the state, and beyond.

Do you have a MO Humanities Outdoors story to share?    Email Lisa Carrico, at lisa@mohumanities.org.

Missouri’s Natural Environment: 200 Years and Beyond

To coincide with the state’s Bicentennial and to kick off MO Humanities Outdoors, the Missouri Humanities is presenting a series of programs to highlight and celebrate Missouri’s natural heritage and landscape. In this series, MH turns towards Missouri’s diverse natural areas—the wetlands of the southeast, the wooded Ozarks hills and riverways of the southwest, the rich rolling farmlands of the northeast, and the prairie lands of the northwest—to celebrate the richness of fauna, flora, and the people who occupy them.

Watch Most Recent Programs:

Geography & History of Missouri’s Original Prairie Landscape

Prairies are natural communities of depthless beauty, with which humans have interacted for millennia. Before European settlement, native prairie covered about one-third of the state. While Missouri still hosts a variety of prairie types, these native grasslands are far in between. Dr. Walter Schroeder is legendary among prairie supporters for his mapping of Missouri’s presettlement prairie in the 1980s. Schroeder’s map identified nearly 12 million acres of prairie landscape in Missouri prior to European settlement. In this program, Dr. Schroeder (Missouri University Emeritus Professor of Geography) and Carol Davit (Missouri Prairie Foundation Executive Director) discuss the past and current importance of Missouri’s prairie legacy to our state’s natural, cultural, and economic history—and explain the importance of historic landscape mapping to conservation work today. 

Photo Credit: Bruce Schuette

 Forest & Farms
Before being cleared for steamboat fuel and today’s farm fields, the Missouri River Valley was heavily forested and provided important economic and ecological services for early inhabitants. Since then, much of this forest has been converted to agricultural land.
Guest experts, Dan Burkhardt (Co-founder, Magnificent Missouri), Meridith McAvoy Perkins (Executive Director, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri), and Ken McCarty (Natural Resource Management Program Director, Missouri State Parks), present the historical transformation of the Missouri River Valley—from lush bottomland forest to fertile farmland—and efforts to reforest the land along the Katy Trail.
Watch Forest & Farms as we explore forests (of today and the past) along the Missouri River Valley and discuss how 1800’s historic native vegetation can inform us about tree planting in 2021. Learn about Magnificent Missouri’s “Trees of Treloar” conservation project and efforts to reforest areas along the Katy Trail—the benefits and the overall value of planting and stewarding trees as a way for people to take action to ensure that the legacy of our natural environment lives on for future generations.
“The Man Who Planted Trees” Book Discussion: How a French Parable Inspires Ecological Restoration

Planting trees can be such a selfless and generous act. In this virtual program we will explore “The Man Who Planted Trees,” an allegorical tale of one shepherd’s arduous effort to single-handedly re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps. Written by French author, Jean Giono, and published more than 65 years ago, this short story teaches us about hope, humanity, and the transformative power of seed-planting and patient cultivation.

Dr. Robert S. Emmett, author and humanities scholar, guided us through “The Man Who Planted Trees” as we considered how a timeless classic can be a parable to modern times and how fiction can influence the way we think about the environment. We examined the themes in this book by way of a special edition that brought this tale close to home! Accompanied by the original text and woodcut illustrations, Magnificent Missouri’s edition includes a foreword and afterword written by local conservationists and highlights native tree-planting efforts along the Katy Trail. 

Past Programs:

2020 Digital Symposium: Water

On April 22nd, 2020 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by hosting a two day digital Symposium on Water. We would like to give thanks to all of our speakers through the series;  Jennifer Hoggatt, Allan Chow, Andrea Hunter, Karen Piper, Laura Lesniewski, Mohammed Alhamdan, Mara Cohen Ioannides, Jason Streubel, Sean Kim, Loring Bullard, Roddy Rogers, Todd Parnell, and Pulitzer Prize Winner Pat Stith. 

This program was sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, and was in partnership with Drury University, City Utilities, Springfield-Greene County Library District, SMCOG, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Missouri Natural Resources, BNIM, and Missouri State University.  

Click the link below to view the videos from the Symposium on Water on our Video Archives page.


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Upcoming Events

To view MO Humanities Calendar Events, including MO Humanities Outdoors Events, visit our calendar.