After 30 years, Steele retires from Missouri Department of Conservation

Steve Chapman

State Representative Mitch Boggs, Dist. 157, left, presents Jay Steele with a proclamation from the Missouri House honoring Steele’s decades with the Missouri Department of Conservation. (Photo submitted)

 A longtime employee with the Missouri Department of Conservation is taking things a bit easier. Jay Steele, who worked for the MDC for 30 years as a wildlife resource technician, recently retired.
Steele went to work for the MDC at the Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area in 1991, where he assisted in managing public land.
“About 15 years in, I got a promotion,” he said, “and was able to stay right there at the Robert E. Talbot Conservation area, and basically was a crew leader where I provided the crew that managed roughly about 17,000 acres in Lawrence, Newton and McDonald County.”
Steele said when he first went to work with the MDC, his background and education in agriculture was what got him hired.
“The Department of Conservation was, at the time, trying to reintroduce prairie grasses that were historically here,” he said. “Most of this land, right through the southwest part of Missouri, was prairie, open grassland. My background in animals, animal husbandry and animal grazing is what kind of got my foot in the door, and my career just built around that.”
One of his favorite parts of the job, Steele said, was when he met people who came to the conservation area for recreation.
“Honestly, I loved (working with) the people that would come out into our outdoor areas, whether it was hunting, fishing, horseback riding, just going for a walk in the out of doors,” he said.

“If they didn’t have a place to go, that was what those conservation areas were purchased for. That’s what they’re there for. (It) made my day when I (encountered) someone who … appreciated anything we were doing to allow them to have that place to come and (be outdoors).”
Interestingly enough, though he’s retired, Steele hasn’t stopped working for the MDC.
He is now employed as a part-time private land conservationist, working with private landowners to improve their property.
“Now, I’m taking the knowledge I gained in my 30 years of working on public land, and now I am going out and assisting private landowners in the southwest region with a variety of whatever they want to do. (I’m) going out, giving advice and some pointers on what they can do to improve their own land. You know, most of Missouri is owned by private ownership, so if we’re really going to make an impact on wildlife in Missouri, it’s going to have to be on private land, not public land.”
Now that he’s working part time, Steele said he is able to devote more time to other activities he enjoys.
“Turkey hunting is a big thing that I really enjoy,” he said. “My oldest son and I really enjoy turkey hunting together.
I also have a farm; I run a herd of 70 mama cows, beef herd. I’ve done that for 25 years, now I have a little more time to run that venture, as well.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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