PPSOC's Beginning (Tim's Story)
DOUGLAS E. WADE, THE ECOLOGY MAN
Occasionally big things get done because big groups of people have big goals and dreams. But sometimes, big notions become reality because one man has a passion that sparks a larger fire. That was the little-known beginning of the Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County, a beginning that started with a random aerial map and a coincidental meeting at a prairie conference.
From 1968 to 1970 Tim Keller worked for the Soil Conversation Service in
When DeKalb was completed, Tim and his family moved to
A chance meeting at the Third Midwest Prairie Conference at
The goal to save this remnant of native prairie became a driving force. Tim had seen
first-hand in his work in the collar counties, how quickly development was destroying the
last bits of native prairie. It was not a question of if but
when. Tim and Doug met with the Ogle County Bicentennial Commission that
had been recently organized. A field trip was suggested to familiarize the group
with the idea of prairie. Here was
Time was of the essence. The property was for sale. Its destruction by
development was imminent. What to do and how to do it were questions that needed
answers. It was perhaps Mrs. Lucy Pierce who suggested an organizational meeting be
held. Members of the Bicentennial Commission and others were asked to attend.
The Prairie Preservation Society of Ogle County (PPSOC) was born with Mrs. Pierce as its
first president. Money from the sale of the History
When reminiscing about their chance meeting, Dot Wade always said, We had to go out of state to meet our neighbor! How fortunate for that eight-acre tract of native prairie that the Keller-Wade meeting occurred and the PPSOC was organized to do the very important task of saving it and further native areas for future generations to visit and enjoy.
DOUGLAS E. WADE,
THE ECOLOGY MAN
Regional Research Paper
Submitted by: Laura
Keller, Challand Jr. High School, Sterling,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.1
E. Wade was born September 11, 1909, the second of three sons born to Mr. and Mrs. Harry
J. Wade. Mr. Harry Wade, a cabinet-maker, had emigrated from
Mr. Wade's zest for life was demonstrated at an early age. In junior high and high school, he participated in orchestra, oratory, track, and swimming, while at the same time working in a stationery store before and after school every day and on Saturdays. Because of this busy work schedule, he had to train on his own4. Swimming proved to be a valuable resource many times in his life.
Wade graduated from high school in 1927. His struggle to get a college education is an
example of the determination with which he faced challenges. His many jobs required to
support his education varied from being a waiter, painter, hotel elevator operator, gas
station attendant, field laborer, forest fire fighter, janitor, chauffeur, carpenter of
Hollywood sets, horse trainer, swim coach, lifeguard, trainer of a future Olympic
freestyler star, actor, and lab assistant. Each experience was a story in itself and took
Wade majored in Science at
graduating from the
He's a poet--and a good one, too; his lines of communication back to the people and the earth are strong. I'm a naturalist. We have much in common. He addresses me as the ecology man, perhaps because I told him he has a lot of excellent ecology and wilderness sense in his poetry.9
Mr. Wade and Robert Frost seemed a natural combination. A Frost biographer wrote, Frost visualizes man always cradled , within nature, total immersed in environment .10 Mr. Wade, the ecology man, may well have influenced Robert Frost in his feelings about man and man's relation to nature.
World War II, Mr. Wade served as a Civilian Instructor for navy and marine troops based at
In 1949, Mr. Wade spoke before the United Nations on the protection of nature. Mrs. Wade recalls that they were so short of cash at the time that they slept in their car and ate peanut butter sandwiches.13
the resident program at
Wades came to
Mr. Wade was ...an idealist, a sincere heart if there ever was one, and an able writer in the cause of conservation.18 He wrote or contributed to seven books and was the author of over five hundred articles published in state, national, and international periodicals. He was very conscientious about his writing, sometimes rewriting material eight or nine times.19 He actively participated in many professional groups at all levels, devoting much time and energy to the concerns of the environment. He developed conservation camps, environmental programs and workshops throughout the nation.
Wade's interest in prairie covered a span of many years, perhaps first sparked when Miss
McAlphin brought in that first pasque flower to the library. A major concern to Mr. Wade
was the preservation of the last few prairie remnants in
1972, the Wades became acquainted with my family through my father, Tim Keller, a fellow
prairie enthusiast. It was ironic that although the Wades lived just several miles north
of us along the Rock River, the Wades met my father at the Third Midwest Prairie
Wades were instrumental in saving the Nachusa Grasslands, a potential prairie area due to
be subdivided into five-acre building lots. Mr. Wade was the first to find the rare and
endangered Prairie Bush Clover on this site. Although the area did not look very promising
at the time, Mr. Wade and my father put up fences in 1974 and 1975 to keep the cattle from
grazing in test areas. They also burned these areas in the spring and were delighted when
many native plants reappeared. Largely due to their continued efforts, the six hundred
twelve acre Nachusa Grasslands was saved in 1987, when it was purchased by The Nature
Conservancy. This was a significant step in saving a valuable sample of native
1975, Mr. Wade teamed up with my father to speak to the Ogle County Bicentennial
Wade was one of the first to alert the state of
father saw Mr. Wade as ...a determined man, not afraid to speak his mind, committed
to his beliefs.23 To me, as a child, Mr. Wade was fun to be with, had a
great sense of humor, and never passed up an opportunity to bring things to my attention.
Although he retired from
efforts of Mr. Wade and his dedication to the environment did not go unnoticed. Among his
many awards were the National Wildlife Week Award in 1957, the Saskatchewan Annual
Conservation Award, the Public Service Award from the Illinois Chapter of the Izaak Walton
League in 1973, and the Distinguished Service Citation for outstanding leadership in
Conservation Education from
Mr. Wade's greatest concerns were that the world was getting worse because of pollution, the loss of open space, and the continued growth of population.25 Dr. Nero, of Saskatchewan, said of Mr. Wade, If Doug has a failing, it his desire to try to do too much. He feels so strongly about the values he perceives, and which he has been taught to follow, he is unable to stop struggling with a world that in many ways refuses to be changed.26 Mr. Wade never gave up the struggle. He said, You get a little mad when others won't see your point, then you've got to try again.27 Perhaps because Mr. Wade could see that the problems of the environment were continually getting worse, he felt a personal failing, that deep sorrow that he referred to in his speech before the United Nations so many years earlier. What he perhaps failed to see were the many lives he touched, inspiring them with his dedication and his lively spirit, instilling in them many of his values through his enthusiastic example. Mr. Wade did travel the road less taken, and he definitely made a difference.
Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken,"The
Interview with Mrs. Dorothy Wade,
3. Marcia Cervi, Career and Contributions of Douglas E. Wade (1909 - ), Taft Campus Occasional Paper #27. (Oregon: Northern Illinois University at Taft Campus, 1976), p. 1.
4. Cervi, p. 3.
5. Cervi, p. 4.
6. Cervi, p. 4.
7. Thomas Tanner, ed., Aldo Leopold, The Man and His Legacy (Iowa: Soil Conservation Society of America, 1987), p. 3.
8. Douglas E. Wade, Aldo Leopold and Prairie, In an Illimitable Garden of Forgotten Blooms, Nature Study, 1987 p. 3.
9. Douglas E. Wade, ...You Have to Carry the Rope, Invitational Paper, Education Sessions, Proceedings and Papers, International Technical Conference on the Protection of Nature (Lake Success: 1949), p. 287.
10. Philip L. Gerber, ed., Robert Frost (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1966), p. 154. .
11. Interview with Mrs. Wade.
12. Cervi, p. 8.
13. Interview with Mrs. Wade.
14. Interview with Mrs. Wade.
Douglas E. Wade, Small Show Prairie Extends Education, Proceedings of the Second
16. Douglas E. Wade, ...You Have to Carry the Rope, p. 287-288.
17. Douglas E. Wade, ...You Have to Carry the Rope, p. 288.
18. Interview with Mrs. Wade.
19. Douglas E. Wade, Small Show Prairie Extends Education, p. 199.
20. Douglas E. Wade, Small Show Prairie Extends Education, p. 200.
21. Robert W. Nero, Douglas E. Wade (1909-1987), Blue Jay, June, 1988, p. 68.
Interview with Tim Keller,
23. Interview with Tim Keller.
Fraser F. Darling, Pelican in the Wilderness (
25. Interview with Mrs. Wade.
26. Interview with Mrs. Wade, collection of responses to Cervi questionnaire.
27. Douglas E. Wade, ...You have to Carry the Rope, p. 287.
When you visit please take only pictures, leave only footprints...
PPSOC's Beginnings (Tim's Story)
Sand Ridge Prairie
Douglas E. Wade Prairie Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve
Clear Creek Unit Pine Rock Nature Preserve Beach Cemetery
PPSOC Membership Current & Upcoming Events
Volunteer Activities Field Trips
Types of Prairies Sites to Visit
Index of Prairie Plants and Wildlife PPSOC Home Page
Historic Minutes Past Banquets
Past Speakers Past Field Trips