Dr. Robert Kipfer

Dr. Robert Kipfer and his wife Barb own 400 acres in Christian County, Missouri which they have used for hosting forestry conferences, providing charity firewood, helping with bird counting and planting seedlings in riparian corridors. The Missouri Department of Conservation has tracked black bears and trapped wild hogs on their land while Missouri State University studies stream ecology and woodland management.  They write a conservation blog and teach weekly conservation sessions at the Springfield Public Schools 5th grade Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility (WOLF). As part of their work with the WOLF program students also make a field trip annually to their land to learn first-hand about water quality, plants, insects and birds. This remains a highlight of their conservation activities.

The Kipfer’s have a commitment to using best practices and openness to community groups, conservation organizations and research institutions has turned their land into an invaluable resource for people and wildlife, alike. Barb is on the Grown Native! Board.  They both are Stream Team volunteers systemically monitoring the water quality of Bull Creek which flows through their property and are active members of the Springfield Plateau Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist program.  Dr. Robert Kipfer was quoted as saying “To become passionate about the natural world you first need to learn enough to love it, and you are never too old to learn.”

The Kipfers have previously been recognized as State Tree Farmers of the Year and as the Missouri Conservation Federation’s Conservationists of the Year. Going forward, the Kipfers have a 50-year protected agreement with Missouri State University where their land will continue to sustain the natural ecology and be used for continued education after they are no longer able to manage it. They also have a permanent stream conservation easement with MDC that includes a mile of Bull Creek and three intermittent streams that feed into it.

Jody Miles

Jody is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director (along with husband Bill Miles) of Earth’s Classroom, Inc. (EC); a 501c3, non-profit environmental learning center located south of Rosebud, MO. Since its founding in 1999, EC has worked with over 75,000 participants, bringing to life MO’s rich natural and cultural history through experiential, outdoor education. They lead day long ecological and cultural history field trips as well as high adventure ecology wild caving and multi-day ecology canoe/camping trips to study and teach limnology. In other words, EC uses the resources as their “blackboard” to teach from.

Before working full-time for Earth’s Classroom, Jody worked for Missouri DNR at Meramec State Park from 1999-2005. She had also worked for DNR in Minnesota at Itasca State Park in the mid-1990s. She has participated in the Wolf Research Team tracking Canis lupus, grey wolves, in northern MN and WI through Northland College, out of Ashland, WI where she received her BS in Natural History Outdoor Education and minored in Native American Studies. Her field experience has involved researching orchids, freshwater mussels, deer browse surveys, North American brown tarantulas, American ginseng, Japanese beetles, and being a federally trained Fire Crew Boss. In addition, she has been trained by NASA and NOAA data scientists and experts to interpret climate science to the public. All this field research gives her fuel to interpret hard sciences to the public of all ages so that the participants can more thoroughly become aware, understand, and appreciate our resources on planet Earth.

Jody resides in her home state of Missouri, just 4 miles from Earth’s Classroom, and lives on 56 acres on the upper Bourbeuse River with her husband with their two sons, Willow (18) and Granite (15), along with their cats and chickens.