John Rushin Rick Ebersold

John Rushin (left), professor emeritus, and Rick Ebersold, MWSU Board of Governors, helped plant approximately 100 trees on the prairie in September 2020.

Oct. 30, 2020–A new prairie habitat on the campus of Missouri Western State University will honor a longtime faculty member in the Department of Biology. The John Rushin Teaching and Research Prairie will be dedicated in a special ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. The 40-acre prairie is located on the east side of the campus near 50th and Messanie.

Dr. John Rushin, professor emeritus, was a biology professor at Missouri Western for 33 years. In addition to teaching and working with thousands of students over his career, Dr. Rushin also developed the award-winning wildlife conservation program and successfully lobbied to get the Northwest Regional Office of the Department of Conservation on the Missouri Western campus.

“We discussed several possible names for the prairie, but kept coming back to wanting to honor John,” said Dr. Mark Mills, chair of the Department of Biology. “His contributions to Missouri Western and this community were numerous and impactful.”

The name was officially approved by the Missouri Western Board of Governors last week.

The campus prairie was included in the Master Plan developed in 2015.  Dr. Mills said the project might not have been possible without a partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, especially Jeff Powelson, private land conservationist. MDC and biology faculty are developing the site as a tallgrass prairie and savannah, similar two what would have been seen in this part of Missouri 200 years ago. The goal is a multi-use resource for the campus and local community. 

“Missouri Western students and faculty will use the prairie for labs and research projects, but we also envision the St. Joseph and northwest Missouri communities using the prairie,” Dr. Mills said. “For example, local school groups, scout troops and the local chapter of the Audubon society could use this resource.” The prairie is also the site of the Missouri Western cross country course. 

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit