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Van Beydler: “I think that if you haven't been to a state park – for the future, this is something that you ought to put on your bucket list.”

Van Beydler has short white hair and a white beard. He is wearing red-colored glasses, a blue Missouri Department of Conservation t-shirt and smiles into the camera.
Becca Newton
/
KBIA

Van Beydler spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Missouri State Fair last August. Beydler is a Missouri native that grew up in Dixon, Missouri.

He spoke about his love for this state, and how his early radio career led to his current position as the public relations coordinator at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Van Beydler: Yeah, I started in radio when I was about 17 years old. I was pushing buttons, running the St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts, and then I eventually became a radio announcer full time. I was in radio for about 23 years.

I've always been very interested in history, in fact, I was on radio at one time, and we used to publish a newspaper called “The Old Settlers Gazette,” which was for a local fall festival that was held down around Waynesville, St. Robert, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

And just – it's always been an interest to me to explore the history of the state of Missouri.

I had the opportunity to start working for the state, and right now I'm actually the coordinator for the State Fair committee for the Department of Natural Resources.

So, I'm actually in charge of the Woman's Building, and we make plans for that each and every year.

One of my things that I'm most proud of is back in 2002, the State Fair had its Centennial celebration where it turned 100 years old, and during that time I served on the committee that was planning for the 100th anniversary of the State Fair.

"One of the things that comes into play, of course, is the state parks – they are mostly in the rural areas, and those are something that anybody can take advantage of."
Van Beydler

I'm actually a 3D photographer, and I took some 3D photos the year before that because back in – 100 years ago, stereo photos were all the rage, and so, the State Fair Foundation thought it would be a good idea to put out a View Master reel, which was those old toys that were in 3D – had 3D photos.

So, I took the 3D photos for that, and that was sold as souvenirs to help the State Fair Foundation raise funds.

Well, there's so much great history that the state has. I mean, we are the “Gateway to the West,” and it's just something that I think every person should take advantage of – to at least go to some of the Bicentennial activities.

And one of the things that comes into play, of course, is the state parks – they are mostly in the rural areas, and those are something that anybody can take advantage of.

I've heard many times that people say that we are one of the greatest state park systems in the entire nation, and so, you know, that's something that we can be very proud of.

The state park system has been increased during the pandemic with visitors. So, that has been a really good advantage that people could take advantage of by going to visit our state parks.

So, I think that if you haven't been to a state park – for the future, this is something that you ought to put on your bucket list.

It's been able to give people the opportunity to get outdoors, not just be locked up in their buildings, you know?

[They’ve] been able to enjoy the activities that you know, they might not have even considered before.

Rachael Schulman is a student producer for KBIA's Missouri on Mic.
Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.