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Shaw Nature Reserve, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden

413 Employees | 164 Years

Mission Statement

The mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden is to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.

The Shaw Nature Reserve is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The mission of the Shaw Nature Reserve is to inspire stewardship of our environment through education, restoration and protection of natural habitats, and public enjoyment of the natural world.


More than one million visitors experience the Missouri Botanical Garden, Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, and Shaw Nature Reserve each year.

Shaw Nature Reserve, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden in close proximity to the St. Louis metropolitan population, provides opportunities for over 70,000 visitors annually to experience the beauty of Missouri’s Ozark Border region and Meramec River. The Nature Reserve is comprised of 2,440 acres, the majority of which is actively managed to conserve highly diverse flora and fauna that provide an immersive outdoor classroom for students and nature lovers of all ages. Many Nature Reserve visitors participate in day or overnight experiences at the Dana Brown Overnight Center, opened in 2003.

Each year more than 20,000 schoolchildren, families, and adults learn about nature and the environment by observation and hands-on experiences and through the guidance of Shaw Nature Reserve’s educational and professional staff. Students from pre-kindergarten through high school attend field trips aligned with grade-appropriate learning standards and offer endless opportunities for awe and wonder. The Nature Reserve Education team strives to engage a diverse, ever-increasing number of students by constantly evaluating the impact of teaching strategies and relevancy of lesson content.

In 2022, improved pathways and new play elements were installed in the Nature Explore Classroom, a nature-inspired play space for children, made possible by generous support from the Dana Brown Charitable Trust. Progress flourished on Shaw Nature Reserve’s Wolf Run Grassland Restoration project to transform severely degraded areas into a diverse mosaic of native prairie, savanna, and woodland. The Nature Reserve also continued work on the new Ozark Ethnobotany Garden with propagation of native plants used for medicine, food, fiber, and dye, initiated in 2022. Initial stages of accessibility improvements are underway at the Dana Brown Overnight Center with support from the Dana Brown Charitable Trust. We anticipate completion in late summer 2025, providing increased access for underserved schoolchildren with mobility concerns, low vision, or developmental disabilities.