by Larry Whiteley

Bob and Barb Kipfer were honored with the 2017 Conservationist of the Year Award by the Conservation Federation of Missouri at their annual awards banquet held March 10th in Jefferson City, MO.

Bob, a military veteran, and his wife Barb are both retired medical professionals who live in Springfield, MO but spend a majority of their time at their property in Christian County they purchased in 1995.

The property has been a certified Tree Farm since 2008 but they began implementing a Forest Stewardship Plan soon after purchasing the property and they value their woods for their protection of water quality in the Bull Creek watershed and work to assure that protection continues. They were named State Tree Farmers of the Year in 2015, are members of the Forest and Woodland Association of Missouri, Missouri Forest Keepers Network and hosted a Missouri Tree Farm Conference.

They have also used their forest for harvesting of selected trees, timber stand improvement, cedar cutting and prescribed fire for restoration of two glades.

In addition, they have allowed a Charity Firewood Harvest of over 100 pickup loads which was delivered to families in need who heat with wood but had no source.

One of their first big projects was working with the Missouri Department of Conservation on stream bank stabilization. They allowed MDC to try different approaches to stabilize the stream.

They have also personally planted over 6 acres of trees as riparian corridors and are worked with other Bull Creek landowners to protect the Bull Creek watershed, hold Earth Day events and more.

Both are active participant’s in stream monitoring with the Bull Creek Stream Team and they have hosted Missouri State Universities Kyle Kosovich in a Gravel Deposition study for his Master thesis.

Bob and Barb love to teach others and are very active with the Springfield Public Schools WOLF program in weekly classroom sessions at the school as well as hosting the WOLF kids at their property for educational classes several times yearly.

For 3 days last June they led classroom sessions at the Branson H.S. Ecology Class on invasive species, native plants/wildflowers, trees, Lepidoptera, Missouri black bears and skull identification.

Bob also does Henry Rowe Schoolcraft reenactments for schools and groups in which he describes Schoolcraft’s observations of the pre-settlement Ozarks landscape and the wildlife he encountered. He will also be doing reenactments of Schoolcraft for the upcoming Schoolcraft Bicentennial.

They have hosted MDC tours, Boy Scout activities, wildlife studies of plant and animal species, bear studies by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Mycological Society forays, Missouri Naturalist and Missouri Native Plant Society field trips for plant and wildflower identification, and Greater Ozarks Audubon Warbler migration study.

They are also active members of the Springfield Plateau Missouri Master Naturalist and write an educational blog with over 1,000 informative postings.

Barb Kipfer is passionate invasive species eradicator and vigorously attacks any multi-flora rose, garlic mustard, Sericea lespedeza, Johnson grass or any other non-native species with vigor.

The Kipfer’s have also restored warm season native grass fields on their property, worked with the MDC on hog trapping, and work at endangered species protection.

They collect native butterflies, raise moths, and volunteer at special events for the Butterfly House at the Springfield Botanical Gardens as well as host an annual mothing event at their property.

Even though they do not hunt themselves they allow hunting to help control the deer population so it does not exceed the habitat’s carrying capacity.

Bob and Barb Kipfer are two people with hearts as big as the outdoors they love and a passion for conserving, preserving and educating. They are excellent role models for other Missourians to do all they can to educate, conserve and protect.