Promoting state parks is one of the best parts of my job because when I’m not visiting parks, I‘m reading up on the biodiversity in caves, prairies, and wetlands and gazing at scenic photographs of natural landscapes. I find these images breathtaking; they convey the serenity that comes with being in nature and the complex beauty of life. Best of all, I can picture myself floating down an Ozark stream or hiking through the backcountry. I often hike alone and find it to be a contemplative and empowering experience.

And I can’t ignore that my whiteness makes this possible.

The last few months, I’ve been taking every opportunity to visit state parks and historic sites. I’m trying to get to as many as I can as part of our #MoParksChallenge. I bring my kids with me every chance I get. I’ve been lucky to make it as far south as Big Oak Tree State Park and over to the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site in Kansas City. One of the most startling sights of my adventures has been walking through a campsite and seeing a confederate flag waving from a campsite. My family is white, so while it made me uncomfortable, I didn’t experience the fear I imagine other families might.

Missouri’s state park system is one of the best in the country, and it’s free and open to all. But does every Missouri resident feel welcome and safe? We must renew the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales tax this fall because it funds vital improvements to our parks and soil conservation; however, it is not enough for our parks to be free. We must also ensure that everyone can access and engage our state parks.

With your support, we’re working with diverse stakeholders to enhance our local food systems. We want to ensure, that no matter what neighborhood you live in, you have access to fresh, local, sustainably grown food. And through advocacy for the Clean Energy Incentive Program, we’re blending efforts to reduce utility bills with decreasing energy consumption and the air pollution that comes along with it. These are just some of MCE’s efforts to be more holistic environmentalists. During this year, we’ll be learning more and exploring how we can act for environmental justice for all.

Thank you for being a member of MCE! It takes all of us to protect our common home.


Heather B. Navarro