During its virtual Grow Native! Professional Member Conference on November 3, the Grow Native! program awarded the 2021 Grow Native! Ambassador
Award to Bill Straatmann, owner of Straatmann Toyota in Washington, Missouri.
Native plants play an important role in sustainable landscaping by providing a food source and habitat for pollinators and wildlife. Native plants store carbon in their roots, and also prevent erosion and protect streams by slowing and filtering stormwater runoff. Healthy, well maintained native landscapes are vital to the survival of beneficial insects, wildlife, and people, and make our communities vibrant.
The Grow Native! program annually recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the use and promotion of native plants and native plant landscaping. This recognition is in the form of the Grow Native! Ambassador Award.
“Bill was selected to receive our 2021 Ambassador Award for his outstanding promotion of native plants at his business and throughout his community,” said Grow Native! Committee Chair Ronda Burnett.
In 2020, Straatmann established native plantings at his dealership, with purchased plants and from plants he grew from seed himself. “My goal with these plantings is two-fold,” said Straatmann. “I want to increase the ecological functionality of my property, and also I want my native plantings to serve as examples to my colleagues and customers.”
Straatmann’s dealership is along Highway 100 where his native plantings are visible from the highway. As many as tens of thousands of people likely see them in a year. Straatmann points out and talks about his plantings to everyone who visits the dealership, from Toyota representatives to customers. He also has a Grow Native! garden sign in place to give passersby more information about the plantings.
Straatmann hosts two blood drives annually at his dealership, and makes Grow Native! information available to participants. Bill also serves on a local rural fire department board and encouraged them to plant natives, which, with help from Scott Woodbury at Shaw Nature Reserve, they did.
In addition, Straatmann serves on a local highway committee, and in early 2020 he spoke to the Missouri Department of Transportation Commission about the importance of natives along roadways.
The nonprofit Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and nationally accredited land trust. Grow Native! is MPF’s 21-year-old native plant marketing and education program serving the lower Midwest. For more information about the Grow Native! program or the Missouri Prairie Foundation, call 888-843-6739 or send a message to email@example.com.