Naturalist, Plant Ecology
Eugene Vale While doing plant ecology research towards a Masters at St. Louis University, Eugene Vale became active in the Grotto [caving club] there. On his outdoor adventures, he found himself interpreting much of the natural world to others. He came to think, “Wouldn’t it be great to be paid for doing this?” Mr. Vale worked his way through school on a teaching fellowship and at an opticoelectronics factory. In 1980 the Missouri State Parks took over the Fisher Cave Tours at Meramec State Park. Members of the Missouri Speleological Survey, including Mr. Vale, advised state parks on this. That year was his first year as a seasonal interpreter. He led cave tours at Fisher Cave and expanded to cover other interpretive programs at the Park. He also was a seasonal at Babler, and in 1985 was appointed as the first full time naturalist at Onondaga Cave State Park. Mr. Vale moved to the Research Management and Interpretation Program in 2003, where his background in electronics and computers has helped the Mo. DNR switch to digital AV, and develop new types of interactive exhibits.
He has received three Missouri Masterpiece Awards from the Missouri State Parks, is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, has received two awards from the National Association for Interpretation Region VI, and is past president of the Association of Missouri Interpreters. He has received three awards from that organization. Mr. Vale has degrees in Biology and is married to Jo Shaper who has a degree in geology. She says, “Together we make a planet.” The two are known for their joint programs.