Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) on May 19 gave special recognition to years of work by the Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) serving people and nature in the Kansas City area. MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley presented HCA with the Private Land Conservation Partner Award for 2021. The award was presented at a partner reception with the Missouri Conservation Commission at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City.
Pauley noted that HCA proactively coordinates youth programs, volunteers, and paid staff to conserve protect, and restore natural lands and open spaces in the Kansas City region. HCA has worked to establish native plants and heighten awareness among urban residents about their benefits. In the process, the organization has provided employment and education for young people through the Nature Action Crew.
“MDC depends on strong partnerships to bring conservation to neighborhoods,” said Wendy Sangster, MDC community conservation planner. “In the Kansas City area, Heartland Conservation Alliance exemplifies the importance of these partnerships. Through programs like the Nature Action Crew, Urban Waters Federal Partnership, and many others, HCA has been an essential partner to MDC in getting conservation on the ground along the Blue River and to getting the word out about how vital conservation is to our communities.”
For example, the Nature Action Crew program provides training for young adults in urban communities. Those crews focus on using native plants, shrubs, and trees in landscaping applications for homes and businesses. The work includes management and maintenance of plantings. The Nature Action Crew involves several partners including MDC that provide funding, training, direction and support to the program. HCA is the entity that keeps Nature Action Crews coordinated and moving forward.
“At our core, we are an alliance,” said Logan Heley, HCA executive director. “We rely on the skills, resources, and expertise of our partners, such as MDC. We believe humans need nature, and it’s our responsibility to protect and restore green space in Kansas City, as well as to help engage as many people as possible with nature. We couldn’t ask for a better partner in this mission than MDC.”