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Executive director, Robert Manes, talks about the ecological function of tall grass praries in Kansas as part of the 30th Anniversary of The Nature Conservancy Wedneday, Sept. 25. TNC has protected over 140,000 acres of the state’s most ecologically important lands and waters. Emily Harrison

Nature conservancy celebrates 30th anniversary

The Bicknell Center held the Nature Conservancy’s 30th Anniversary Celebration.   

Thirty years ago, a group of volunteers joined together from throughout Kansas to create a statewide chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Campus affiliates and locals gathered around to hear the history of the organization and its plans for Kansas. Topics included soil health, irrigation efficiency, and urban rivers. 

Nature Conservancy director, Rob Manes, explained the overall mission of the organization.  

“Overall, we want to protect lands, waters, and air for the benefit of nature and people,” Manes said. “Help the environment that supports everybody.” The conservancy conducted research and permanently protected 139,470 lands and waters across the state, including five preserves that are open to the public. 

Manes also stated he’s “very proud” of the wind energy tool that he and his team have developed. “Basically, it makes it easy to build lots of renewable energy without negative ecological impacts,” Manes said.  

Along with Manes, a few of Pittsburg State’s biology professors explained their independent studies and how it aligned with the goals of the Nature Conservancy. They all have done research outside of PSU to figure out what’s causing certain environmental issues and how they can possibly be treated. The instructors also work with students to aid them in their research.  

Christine Brodsky, assistant professor in the biology department and urban ecologist, said how the partnership with PSU and the Nature Conservancy would be beneficial.  

“They have a ton of resources and they have a fantastic outlook on how to connect nature to people,” Brodsky said. “We share similar goals and hopes of the future, so I think it’d be a wonderful collaboration.”  

Brodsky also added the overall importance of their research and the work the organization does. 

“Whether it’s here in Kansas or nationwide, we’re seeing a lot of the same trends,” Brodsky said. “A lot of similar pressures with urbanization and pollution… If we could come up with how to improve cities or how to improve our natural areas, the work is pretty universal.” 

An upcoming event to expect from the organization is the Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park opening Oct. 12.  

“The Nature Conservancy’s chief purposes for Little Jerusalem are, first, to protect the pristine natural features and, second, to provide opportunities for people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area,” said Manes. “We’re really really excited about that. It’s a long (way away) from Pittsburg, but it’s worth the drive. It’s a great time to get out and see the tall grass reserve in Kansas.”  

The Nature Conservancy also accepts contributors for research or volunteers. To get more information, visit their website (nature.org/kansas).

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