The Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow. Photo by Karen Wade.

Women Conservation Heroes of Indiana

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are honoring notable women, past and present. Right here in Indiana, we can point to many female conservation heroes. Here are just a few.

Dr. Shirley Heinze. Dr. Heinze’s love of nature and the Indiana Dunes ran deep. The Porter County resident devoted herself to the fight to save the Dunes, doing all she could to protect this special part of Indiana and inspiring others to do so as well.

An endowment was created upon her death to protect what she loved so much. Shirley Heinze Land Trust was founded in her memory.

Edna Banta. Ms. Banta is responsible for putting Jefferson County on the map as a biological hotspot around the turn of the last century. While university professors and botanists focused on the three counties along the Lake Michigan shore where we have the highest biodiversity in the state, Ms. Banta combed the countryside in Jefferson County, showing it was the most diverse county anywhere else in Indiana.

Her plant collections were found in a corner of a nonprofit’s meeting room about 30 years ago, though no one knew why they were there or understood their significance. They are now safely stored at the Deam Herbarium at Indiana University, her records serving as breadcrumbs for later generations to find and protect natural areas.

Dr. Laura Hare. Dr. Hare was passionate about nature, and her family’s land in Fishers has been protected as Richey Woods Nature Preserve for decades. Upon her death a foundation was created for the protection of natural areas in Central Indiana. It grew to give grants statewide and even nationwide protecting nature.

There are several “Laura Hare Preserves” across the state now where her foundation supplied the lion’s share of funds to conserve the site. Many of these are open to the public, places where one can soak in natural beauty and thank her for her love of nature and generosity. We are honored to have her name on two of our preserves: The Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow and The Laura Hare Preserve at Turtle Bend.

Dr. E. Lucy BraunDr. Braun was a famous Buckeye but lived close to Indiana and ventured west often, collecting rare plants in high-quality natural areas. Her important work Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America was published in 1950 and quickly made her one of the most respected forest ecologists in the country.

Her visit to a very special natural space in Franklin County became local legend. The authoritative expert from Ohio came to tour a forest that featured openings where prairie plants grew. The National Herbarium at the Smithsonian holds her collection of a rare species from this very place, which remains unprotected. The species she collected still grows there: yet another example of a conservation leader leaving breadcrumbs for future generations.

Ellen Jacquart. Ms. Jacquart’s contributions to conservation earned her the Carl N. Becker Stewardship Award from the Natural Areas Association, a national award. She kicked off her career while living in Indianapolis and, in her spare time, founded the Central Indiana Land Trust and served as its first president.

She then became Botanist for the Hoosier National Forest. Seeing there was no source for materials to restore areas in need, she created a native seed nursery on site.

She later became Stewardship Director for The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, one of the first women in that role nationwide. In that role she oversaw the restoration of Kankakee Sands in Northwest Indiana, one of the largest efforts of its kind in the nation.

We are fortunate, in our own conservation work, to stand on the shoulders of these giants.

Cliff Chapman

President and CEO

As CILTI’s President and CEO, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.