Lynn Goggins - Educating the public on all things conservation

Lynn Goggins of the Missouri Department of Conservation serves a supporting role in educating the public on all things conservation.

Lynn Goggins of the Missouri Department of Conservation serves a supporting role in educating the public on all things conservation. Photo by Julie Smith.

Think of Lynn Goggins as one of the wizards behind the green curtain.

Although her new official title is “accounting technician,” Goggins serves as a Missouri Department of Conservation assistant, helping support the work of education consultants and outdoor skills specialists who often are the department’s more-public face.

Goggins, who first arrived at the department in 1999, recently was selected as the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Clerical Employee of the Year. Mike Huffman, outreach and education division chief, said many behind-the-scenes individuals keep things running smoothly, but Goggins was a natural choice for the honor.

“She brings to the job a high degree of focus on providing great customer service to our staff and to the teachers … across the state,” said Huffman. “We don’t fully recognize the support behind the scenes, but it makes (our frontline employees) more efficient in their jobs.”

Goggins is part of the team that promotes the Discover Nature program to schools. The program offers competitive grants and age-appropriate curriculum to teachers. For the younger grades, the department educates kids about the changing seasons; middle schoolers learn about aquatic life; and high schoolers study ecology. The program also is starting a preschool program.

It’s Goggins’ responsibility to process those grants — handling the paperwork, making sure teachers get the materials they need, disbursing the grant checks, etc. Because MDC staff want to instill an appreciation of the outdoors, field trips to approved sites are a big part of the program.

She noted staff like to see kids actively engage in the learning process, as opposed to simply being passive recipients.

“The kids are encouraged to be the scientists,” Goggins said. “We want to see the kids accomplish tasks on their own.”

At the end of the year, teachers send the department narratives of their experiences so that MDC can improve the program as needed.

The department issues about 460 grants — about $400,000 annually — to public and parochial schools. About 75 percent of Missouri’s public school districts are involved in some manner; department leaders would like to see all of Missouri schools involved, Huffman said.

One of Goggins’ joys is receiving pictures of students’ activities in the field, and her office door is covered with them. Some students are so excited about learning about nature that they collect items on their own volition.

But that’s only one aspect of her job. Goggins also helps administer 60 grants through the National Archery in the Schools Program, which provides funding support to students interested in that sport. “Archery allows kids to have a physical activity they can excel in. And it promotes confidence and self-esteem,” she said.

Goggins earned a bachelor’s degree in soil science from the University of Central Missouri in 1980. In her very spare time — she has a second job at Target — she loves to garden, hike and canoe. And, her 26-year-old daughter, Kate Merritt, is preparing to marry next August.

A love of the great outdoors sparks Goggins interest in her job.

“I love to be outdoors, so I want kids to be outside, too,” she said.

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