About Watershed Natives
Native plants are integral to soil health, pollinator and wildlife habitat, erosion prevention, biodiversity, and nutrient runoff reduction. The virtues of native plants are becoming increasingly understood and utilized in a variety of applications in agriculture, rural development, and urban development. We think they are beautiful both physically and functionally.
The Watershed Natives program is a significant part of our education and outreach efforts. Activities associated with the plant production, greenhouse operations, agriculture, and soil health are integral parts of the FFA and Environmental & Natural Resource Management College and Career programs with Springfield Public Schools.
There are some amazing native plant growers in Missouri, and in particular, we thank Missouri Wildflower Nursery and Forest Keeling for helping set us up for success. We recognize that a rising tide floats all boats, and we need to increase partnerships and production locally and statewide to keep pace with demand. We intend to build Watershed Natives into a financially sustainable program through plant sales, but the investment of the Darr Family Foundation and Community Foundation of the Ozarks has provided the start-up capital to begin. We are excited about the future of this program and grateful to those mentioned here for helping us get started. The ongoing three-way collaboration between Ozark Empire Fair, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield, MO, and the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks has the potential to reach a much larger audience through continued support. Watershed Commitee was awarded grant funding from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Darr Family Foundation to help get the program off the ground and growing.
Hillcrest High School
Students in these programs get first-hand experience in soil preparation, seed collection, seed germination, growing crops, site restoration, and invasive species control. Plants produced by the students are used for both restoration efforts and resale to the general public. Purchasing Watershed Natives not only immediately benefits the natural landscape but any funds generated go back into the program to support our education and outreach efforts.
This 3-year program starts with the Environmental Science class as Sophomores, Watershed Science as Juniors, and Restoration Ecology as Seniors. Each year students build on responsibility, skill, and knowledge as each class stair-steps. These classes visit the nursery located across the street at the fairgrounds twice a month. Students are able to learn, problem solve, and see real world application of what is being taught in the classroom.
With the nature of our program, we are always looking for schools, clubs, organizations, and groups to plug into and help with hands-on workforce development. To schedule a field trip or educational program, please fill out the form below or contact our Native Nursery Manager:
Christy Wilder (417)399-0782
Looking for a way to get plugged in or experience in Horticulture? Become a Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Volunteer and help with the nursrey operations, gain experience, and have a great time doing it!