Stories in Missouri

Ted & Pat Jones

An Enduring Legacy for Future Generations

She’s been called Mother of the Katy Trail and Prairie Godmother - two titles that only scratch the surface of Pat Jones’ conservation legacy in Missouri. Pat and her husband Edward “Ted” Jones, son of the founder of Edward D. Jones Investments, committed a lifetime of generous support and dedication to the conservation and preservation of Missouri’s natural heritage.

Before Ted passed away in 1990, they provided $2.2 million to acquire and develop Katy Trail State Park, which is the country’s longest rails-to-trails park and runs along the northern bank of the Missouri River for most of its length. In 1997, Pat donated Ted's family farm near Williamsburg to the Missouri Department of Conservation to create Prairie Fork Conservation Area and endowed it for management, research and conservation in partnership with the University of Missouri – Pat’s alma mater.

Prairie Fork remained Pat’s home until her death in late 2018 and has been a place for educational experiences and opportunities for schoolchildren and a center to develop and implement techniques that promote wise use and sustainability of our natural resources.  

In 2004, the park where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers meet was dedicated as the Edward “Ted” and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park in honor of their contributions to conservation throughout the state. 

Ted and Pat Jones stand in front of their home with their dogs
Ted & Pat Jones Ted & Pat Jones at Prairie Fork © © courtesy of the Katy Land Trust

A Partner in Conservation

What began with a $10 gift to The Nature Conservancy in 1980 led to a lifetime of friendship, guidance, and inspiration. Pat and Ted Jones were not just philanthropists, they were committed conservation partners.  

Throughout her 38 years of giving to TNC, Pat became one of our most generous and loyal supporters and a vocal champion of our work. She was an enthusiastic patron of our grasslands work and provided funds to help purchase and build what would become TNC’s Dunn Ranch Prairie in northern Missouri. With a love of native prairie flowers and grasses, Pat took pride in the work TNC was accomplishing at Dunn Ranch Prairie. From restoring a healthy prairie chicken population to reintroducing bison to the landscape in 2011, Pat was our supporter and cheerleader.  

She was also a committed partner of our work in the Ozarks. Pat’s leadership and support helped fund our large-scale conservation easement initiative in the Current River watershed, which has a goal to protect 100,000 acres of land to allow conservation-friendly timber harvest and recreational use, while securing the health of the Current’s rich, fragile landscape.

Pat believed strongly in our mission, our conservation priorities, and our vision of a world where people and nature thrive. 

People need a place where they can be, where they're not fenced in; you can take a walk, you can run, you can jump, you can get dirty, and you can investigate whatever it is you're interested in.

Talking about Prairie Fork Conservation Area
Pat Jones on a Missouri Prairie
Pat Jones Pat Jones on a Missouri Prairie © Missouri Department of Conservation

Remembering Pat

A visit to Prairie Fork was always a treat. Usually greeted first by Gunner, Pat’s spunky pup, she was always close behind with a big smile on her face. A typical visit also included a tour of the property, with Gunner running alongside the gator.  Sometimes he’d get ahead and sometimes he’d fall behind, but he always popped back up and would hop in the gator with us when he got tired. He seemed to enjoy the tours as much as we did.

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We’d drive by Ted’s Swamp, cross through the prairie, and stop to view the soil core, which was always a highlight and a feature that Pat was proud to show off. The soil core was taken just north of the property and includes soil from 3 glacial events dating back almost one-million years. It’s quite the sight to see and a learning experience for the thousands of kids who have visited.

Pat loved to tell stories about the schoolchildren who had recently visited or the summer camps that were getting ready to begin. “Learn, get dirty, and have fun” was a saying that Pat often mentioned when she talked about the importance of getting kids in nature.

Throughout the years, our staff has been honored to call Pat a partner and friend. “Pat Jones left a tremendous conservation legacy in Missouri. She was a friend, an advisor, and an inspiration to us. Her passion for conservation will never be forgotten,” said Adam McLane, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Missouri.