Born in Honolulu, Carol-Ann Uetake-Shapiro came to know The Nature Conservancy while exploring the coral reefs of Hawaii and the mountains of California. While the reefs and mountains may have been her first loves, Carol has developed a deep appreciation of Missouri’s natural habitats. After moving to St. Louis in 2003 with her husband, Dr. Larry Shapiro, Carol wanted to learn more about Missouri’s unique places and rejuvenate her decades-long relationship with The Nature Conservancy.
“A friend told me about the crazy dance of the prairie chicken at Dunn Ranch, and I just had to see them,” she recalls. “I made reservations for the next year to be in the first group to visit their booming grounds. There was still snow on the ground, but the males did not fail to perform and amuse, even with their newly fitted radio antennae.”
Just over a year after that initial visit to Dunn Ranch, Carol joined the Conservancy’s Missouri Board of Trustees. She was able to visit the prairie again during a field trip for trustees at her first board meeting. This time, instead of booming prairies chickens, Carol found hardworking Conservancy staff hand-harvesting native seeds that the large combine could not successfully collect.
“I am so impressed with this long-range goal to restore the tallgrass prairie as a diverse, interdependent community, presently known to be one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.” Carol has become so inspired by the Conservancy’s prairie work that she is transforming her garden. Using drought-tolerant prairie plants, she is able to attract wildlife and support native plant species in her own backyard prairie. In addition to her sustainable gardening practices and her important work as a trustee, Carol and her husband invest financially in the Conservancy’s work.
“The Nature Conservancy is important because it is the largest organization of its kind and the most successful. Its approach is based on sound scientific principles, with conservation of intact communities as its goal. The Nature Conservancy also seeks to collaborate with partners and to preserve a way of life for those who depend on these natural resources while also protecting the environment in which we all live. . . . It is simply a commitment for posterity.”