History of the Prairie
When Missouri Western’s 2015 Master Plan was being developed, biology student Brock Couch discovered a plot of land in the plan that was being underutilized. “I was thinking, we’re always driving to do research,” recalled Brock, who now holds a doctorate in Science Education. “We have ground right here we can do stuff on.”
Seeing firsthand the need for on-campus applied learning opportunities for biology students, he suggested to one of his professors, Dr. Mark Mills, that the underdeveloped land be used for biology research. Dr. Mills agreed. Brock put together a group of students and pitched the idea during a town hall meeting. The committee valued his idea and input, and the prairie was added to the Master Plan.
The plot of land chosen for the 40-acre prairie addition was located near 50th and Messanie on the east side of campus. Partnering with the Missouri Department of Conservation and their private land conservationist, Jeff Powelson, plans began to form for the re-establishment of native prairie land.
In early 2020, the Missouri Department of Conservation planted more than 100 types of seeds in the prairie land, and the Missouri Western Chapter of the Wildlife Society followed suit with native trees.
A special dedication was held in October 2020. The John Rushin Teaching and Research Prairie was named in honor of a former Missouri Western biology professor, Dr. John Rushin. Rushin taught at Missouri Western for more than three decades and was instrumental in building the wildlife conservation program.
The first prescribed burn of the prairie land was conducted in spring 2023. This burn ensures the health of the prairie.