Forest Keeper Workshops

Winter 2024 Opportunities

Thursday, February 15th, 8-4 pm Friday, February 16th, 8-1 pm 
Location: Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center

MDC proud to be a host for this conference created by Deep Roots KC to increase the appreciation, conservation and use of native plants in the heartland. Whether you are a home gardener, student, educator or anyone who works with green spaces this conference will have something for you!

April 6th
Spring 2024 sees the return of the George O’White State Nursery’s biannual open house. See the effort and scale of a state wide seedling collection, planting, and harvesting operation. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up for a tour spot by calling 573-674-3229  to reserve your spot

Upcoming MDC Classes

Spotlight on Syrups and Sugar

Sap to Syrup (Virtual Education)

Tuesday February 20th 6:30-700 pm

Winter is full of wonder and processing tree sap into syrup is one of those wonders. This virtual program will cover the basics of tree selection, collection, processing and equipment needed to turn that watery sap into delicious syrup.

Register at Events | Missouri Department of Conservation (

Maple Sugaring and Tree Tapping

Saturday, February 24, 2024 1:30 pm –  3:00 pm

Location: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center

In our culture of a supermarket in every neighborhood, it is almost magical and spectacular to be able to make something delicious to eat out of some liquid flowing out of a tree. Savor this wonder of nature by learning how to tap trees, collect sap, and make delicious syrup from native trees.

Register at Events | Missouri Department of Conservation (

Trees: Maple sugaring

Date: Saturday, February 17, 2024 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Location: Rockwoods Reservation

Learn the history of maple sugaring, visit the sugar bush to see where sap is collected, and learn how to turn the sap into syrup. The entire program is outdoors, so please dress for the weather.

Register at

Special Event: Urban Woods

Date: Saturday, February 24, 2024 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Location: Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center

When winter weather is waning, and the trees are dripping sap and melting snow, it’s time for our annual outdoor event! Help us celebrate trees as one of our most valuable natural resources. Taste a tree at the Sugar Camp where we will boil sap to make syrup. Learn how to split firewood, throw an atlatl, build a wren house, start a fire with sticks, braid a rope with cordage and other useful skills to survive the wilds of the urban woods or your own backyard.

No Registration required

Prescribed Burn Workshops

Locations (Click for registration)

Friday, February 9, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at the Paris UDSA Service Center

Saturday, February 17, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at The MDC Southeast Regional Office

Saturday, March 2nd, 9:00 am- 12:00PM at Twin Pines Conservation Center

Saturday, March 2nd, 9:00 am- 12:00PM at J.N. Turkey Kearn Memorial Wildlife Area

Saturday, March 16, 9:00 am –  1:00 pm at the Macon USDA Service Center

Friday, March 29th, 10:00  am- 3:00 pm near the NRCS in Union

Saturday, April 6th, 9:00 am- 2:30 pm at Pierce Land & Cattle Co

Thursday, July 11, 5:00 pm –  8:00 pm at Pony Express Conservation Area

Prescribed burning can be a valuable tool for managing native plant diversity and controlling undesirable vegetation, but it can be dangerous and ineffective when not used properly. This workshop will provide basic information about how to plan and execute a prescribed burn for grassland management.

Upon registration, participants will be emailed a link to the virtual/online portion of the prescribed burn course. The online course is a mandatory prerequisite which requires a $25.00 fee to a third-party host (not MDC). Registrants will need to successfully complete the online course and quiz to attend the field day event. Please bring your certificate of completion and mileage record. 

Other Opportunities

Winter Beauty at Pickle Springs

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2024 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center

Winter snowmelt dripping from unique rock outcroppings and icicles hanging from bluffs. Enjoy all the winter beauty Pickle Springs Conservation Area has to offer on this 2-mile hike past beautiful mixed hardwood and pine forests. This hiking trail has been designated a National Natural Landmark and it will not disappoint. After the hike, we will stop at nearby Hawn State Park and do a short hike there to see the beauty of another amazing natural area. Pack your lunch and enjoy the beautiful scenery when we stop to eat. The difficulty of Pickle Springs trail is moderately-difficult with steep inclines greater than 15%. 

Register at

Learning to Hunt Mushrooms

Date: Thursday, April 11, 2024 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Location: Virtual

Join us in learning about mushrooms and how they live and grow. Get some tips on how to find and identify the edible ones and what ones to stay away from. In our area morel mushrooms are very popular, see if you can find any.

Register at

Woodland Spring Wildflowers

Date: Friday, March 15, 6:30-7:30 pm

Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center

When temperatures start to warm in spring, many woodland wildflowers race to sprout and bloom before the dark forest canopy shades them out. These fleeting “ephemeral” wildflowers put on a short, but spectacular display across southeast Missouri. During this indoor program we will brush up on our identification skills before this spring bloom so that you can enjoy your early season hikes with a new appreciation for this diversity.

Register at Events | Missouri Department of Conservation (


Early Spring at Big Oak Park

Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Cape Girardeau Nature Center

Most people don’t realize that southeast Missouri is home to some of the most unique habitats and wildlife found in Missouri. Explore the swamp and bottomlands that help make this ecosystem unique. Keep your eyes open for wildlife like swamp rabbit and otters. This state park is also home to some of Missouri’s state record trees, and you can view many of them along the boardwalk trail. This hiking trip consists of 3 trails found on the area which total nearly 3 miles in the end.  Pack a lunch and enjoy the sights and sounds of Missouri’s southeast between some of the hikes. 

Register at

Learning to Hunt Wild Edibles

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2024 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Location: Andy Dalton Shooting Range

It’s unbelievable what nature provides! Join us with special guest, Bo Brown, to find out what is in the outdoors that is edible and what you need to stay away from. Bo will show us some of the everyday plants that we see in our garden or on walks that are healthy for the body.

Register at

Wild Edibles: Plant ID and Hike

Date: Tuesday March 12, 1:00-3:00 PM

Location: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center

Learning how to identify plants is very important especially when it comes to native wild edibles. Learn just what plant taxonomy is and why you should practice it. Afterwards, participants will take a hike to practice identification techniques.

Register at Events | Missouri Department of Conservation (