Doug Starke: Grounded in Conservation work

Doug Starke, grounds supervisor at the Missouri Department of Conservation in Jefferson City.

Doug Starke, grounds supervisor at the Missouri Department of Conservation in Jefferson City. Photo by Julie Smith.

As grounds supervisor for Missouri’s Department of Conservation, Doug Starke is responsible for maintaining nearly 160 acres of grounds, including trails, prairie, woodlands, savannah, glade and forest.

Of course, he has a little help.

“I have two salaried people and three from the Department of Corrections,” Starke said. “I used to have two other people, but with downsizing and reorganization, they (the department) have deemed them necessary someplace else.”

The crew maintains grounds in Jefferson City at the Department of Conservation’s headquarters on Truman Boulevard and at Runge Nature Center on Missouri 179.

Starke said he has worked for the department for more than 20 years. He worked 10 years as a maintenance technician and was promoted to grounds supervisor in 1995. Prior to joining the Missouri Department of Conservation, he worked on a farm for 11 months, after graduating from Linn State Technical College.

He said he loves that his job requires him to perform a variety of duties.

“Most days are not the same,” Starke said. “There’s a huge variety of things to do and I get to meet a lot of people, both the public and staff.”

He said his job can include tasks such as winter snow removal, exotic and invasive species removal, mulching, pruning, mowing, planting, dead tree removal and equipment maintenance.

“I really do it all,” Starke said. “I don’t sit behind the computer too much.”

Starke said his crew also works on projects with the Department of Conservation’s inside maintenance crew.

A lot of times, he said he finds himself completing some of the same tasks at home in his own yard. He has a wife and two kids.

He said he and his wife have a garden, fruit trees, blackberry bushes and lots of flowers.

“The way she wants it, that’s what we do,” Starke said. “I do the bulk of it.”

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