News Release

Special Exhibit Highlights Notable Events from 2017 at Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Quilts on display
Quilts by National Park Service employee Rachel Acker following her participation in the flood recovery effort at Ozark Riverways.

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News Release Date: February 26, 2018

Contact: Dena Matteson, 573-323-4814

Van Buren, MO – A new temporary exhibit at Ozark National Scenic Riverways features artwork that commemorates several notable events from 2017. Two handmade quilts and a set of hand-painted Christmas ornaments will be on display in the lobby of the Van Buren Visitor Center for the next several months. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

One of the most memorable events in the region was the historic flooding in April and May 2017. The widespread flooding caused unprecedented damage to Ozark National Scenic Riverways and local communities. More than 40 National Park Service (NPS) employees from around the country came to Ozark Riverways to assist with flood recovery as a part of the NPS Midwest Region Incident Management Team (IMT). The IMT worked shoulder-to-shoulder with park employees and were critical in assessing damage and helping to establish priorities in the initial recovery. 

Rachel Acker, an NPS employee at Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trail, served on the IMT and finds inspiration in her service to parks around the country. She enjoys sewing quilts using memorabilia from a park, then gifting it back as a remembrance of her time there. She created two quilts in honor of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. According to Ms. Acker “Ozark National Scenic Riverways is a beautiful park and it was an honor to make these quilts. It was such a pleasure to work with the staff. They have shown the upmost professionalism, courtesy, and friendliness, even in their darkest hour. I hope to return to Ozark NSR in the future as a true visitor to enjoy its beauty in its entirety.”   
 Later in 2017, local artist Jennifer Dodson, from Eminence, was chosen to design and paint ornaments for President’s Park (White House) in Washington, D.C. as part of the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display. The handcrafted ornaments showcase historic structures from national parks and historic sites in Missouri, with an emphasis on Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Ms. Dodson chose to paint historic structures because they have stood the test of time and are of great cultural significance, with each having a unique story to tell. According to Ms. Dodson “It was such an honor to decorate my home state tree and to pay tribute to my home park, Ozark National Scenic Riverways - this was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.” 

In addition to featuring Ozark Riverways, Dodson painted ornaments to represent Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch), Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (White Haven), Harry S Truman National Historic Site (Truman Home), George Washington Carver National Monument (Moses Carver House), Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Ray House), and Mark Twain National Forest (Falling Spring Mill). Of the set of twelve, eleven ornaments were returned to Ozark National Scenic Riverways to be exhibited. The ornament for the Truman Home was displayed in the White House Visitor Center and will be retained there as part of that collection.

The Van Buren Visitor Center is located at 404 Watercress Drive in Van Buren, Missouri. For more information about the Riverways, call (573) 323-4236; visit the park’s Facebook page, or website at

Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees who care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Last updated: February 26, 2018

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