About Magnificent Missouri

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“We believe in conservation by story-telling. The story we are telling is about the Missouri River Valley west of St. Louis. The last 100 miles of the Missouri River — from Hermann to its Confluence with the Mississippi — is overflowing with cultural and natural history. By engaging people in many different dimensions of the river valley, we think they will want to conserve and protect the farms, rivers, trails and parks that make up its historic landscape.”

~ Dan Burkhardt

Our Mission


Experience, Connect and Conserve the Beautiful Landscape and Rich History of the Missouri River Valley

Our mission is to conserve and increase appreciation of the Katy Trail and the last 100 miles of the Missouri River Valley — as a premier regional asset — through education, events, and collaborative projects.

Building on the investment and land conservation efforts of the Katy Land Trust, Magnificent Missouri supports conservation, economic development, and historic preservation efforts in communities along the Missouri River and Katy Trail in St. Louis, St. Charles, Montgomery, Warren, Gasconade, and Franklin counties.

John McPheeters and Dan Burkhardt, co-founders of Magnificent Missouri

Our Story

Magnificent Missouri began in 2012 as two friends — both farmers who love the countryside — discussed new ways to draw attention to Missouri conservation issues. Dan Burkhardt (Bethlehem Valley Farm & Vineyards) and John McPheeters (Bowood Farms & Garden Center) realized that the best way to entice Missourians to focus on the rural landscape around them was through a conservation celebration featuring amazing local food prepared by award-winning chefs.

We build on the work of the Katy Land Trust, which was created in 2010, after Dan and Connie put their land in a conservation easement to protect and conserve their land in Warren County. The conservation work that followed developed organically, as the Burkhardts worked to protect the land, prevent invasive species, and help others in the region access the same opportunities. We continue to work with Katy Land Trust as a sister organization to conserve properties. Today, the work of Katy Land Trust is incorporated into the mission of Magnificent Missouri.

In 2019, Ralph Pfremmer became our first Executive Director, working to expand the impact of our work, partnering with organizations and communities throughout the Missouri River Valley.


“People think often conservation is just for hunters or fishermen, but it’s not. It’s for anyone who enjoys a drive in the country or a winery or locally grown food. The land can’t take care of itself. It needs people to care for it.”

~ Dan Burkhardt

What We Do

We strive to connect all Missourians to the landscape along the Missouri River and the Katy Trail west of St. Louis by creating experiences that draw people out and make them more aware of the need to conserve this remarkable region. Missouri’s water, agricultural resources and natural scenic beauty are some of the state’s greatest assets. We believe that if we truly understand the value of these assets, we will be motivated to conserve them for future generations of Missourians. That is why we engage people through events and strategic partnerships with conservation organizations.

Our Focus

From the outset, Magnificent Missouri has focused on conserving and advocating for the last 100 miles of the Missouri River Valley. From St. Louis to Hermann, this unique corridor includes the confluence of our two greatest American rivers; the beginning of the Katy Trail, the country’s longest bike path; and the first American Viticultural Area in Augusta, Missouri.

Within this 100 miles, Magnificent Missouri has recently focused on the Country Store Corridor – with Peers Store on one end and the Treloar Mercantile on the other – and an easy 3.6 miles of Katy Trail in between! Peers Store has emerged as doorway into this beautiful region and a familiar entry point for our conservation work. It’s also simply a fun place to stop along the Katy Trail for a cold drink, live bluegrass music, and friendly faces.

Our Books and Documentary

Magnificent Missouri has engaged in many creative projects that celebrate this stretch of the countryside. These books, CDs, and documentaries, and other projects are our love letters to the region.

Missouri River Country is a coffee table book, developed by Dan Burkhardt, who solicited Missouri photographers and writers for gorgeous photographs, original artwork, and unique stories about the fabric of life along the Missouri River.

Growing Up with the River: Nine Generations on the Missouri, written by Dan and Connie Burkhardt, tells the stories of children from nine generations who grew up along the Missouri River from Hermann to St. Charles. This book displays ten original paintings commissioned from Missouri landscape painter Bryan Haynes to tell the story of Missouri River history since Lewis and Clark. Beloved by readers of all ages, this book received the “Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence in Family Friendly Literature”.


Rivertowns premiered September 2018 on Nine PBS. Dan Burkhardt is the Co-Executive Producer of this film. This Nine Network special taps into the social, natural and cultural changes in Missouri River communities over more than two centuries. Inspired by the book Growing Up with the River: Nine Generations on the Missouri, the film visits historical sites, the people and the beauty of the Missouri River Valley. Visit Ninenet.org to watch.

From The National Wildlife Federation

Wildlife Champions Dan and Connie Burkhardt Honored with National Conservation Leadership Award

“Both organizations work to connect Missourians to the value of the landscape along the Missouri River and the Katy Trail west of St. Louis. They have published books and magazines, saved historic buildings, created artwork, sponsored bluegrass music, created campaigns to eliminate invasive species, planted trees and hosted countless events — all to introduce non-conservationists to conservation. They have also placed a conservation easement on their 220-acre family farm in the Missouri River Valley.”