Conservation Values of Prairies; Carol Davit, Missouri Prairie Foundation

The original extent of American prairie evokes our national spirit: expansive, exhilarating in its abundance, full of life and promise. Today – from the tallgrass prairie east of the Rockies, and westward through mid- and short-grass prairies that stretched to the Pacific coast – our native grassland legacy has been dramatically reduced to scattered remnants of its once vast 160-million-acre domain across North America, and from 15 million acres in Missouri to fewer than 70,000. However, these remnants—from pocket prairies that delight us with their beauty and diversity of plants, insects, birds, and other grassland wildlife—-to the larger tracts that support cattle ranching, antelope, and other large animals—remain vitally important to us in terms of water quality, soil health, carbon storage, drought tolerance, pollinator habitat, and also beauty and spiritual renewal. In her presentation to the Ethical Society, Davit will discuss these diverse values of prairie, and why the act of con-serving original landscapes like prairies is critical to sustaining biological diversity and our well-being.

As the executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Carol Davit oversees fundraising, strategic planning, communications, advocacy, the Grow Native! program, and administration for the organization, and has edited the Missouri Prairie Journal since 1996. Davit has worked for 20 years in the conservation and environmental fields in communications, development, administration, and leadership capacities in the nonprofit sector and in municipal and state government. Davit serves on the Missouri Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Collaborative, the Missouri Environmental Literacy Advisory Board, and other groups. She has written on natural history topics for the Missouri Conservationist and other publications. Davit has B.A. and M.A. degrees in Inter-disciplinary Studies.