Patricia K Armstrong

From INPS President Janine Catchpole:

I want to talk about Patricia K Armstrong. She is a woman with a history we should appreciate, and she has a problem that needs a creative solution.

At 90 trips around the sun, she climbed to the Big Prairie at Revis during the Annual Gathering with ease, and down which can be trickier. I’ve been on field trips with her before and watched her eyes darting, noticing each plant, movements in grasses. Then she stops and quickly details what she has seen.

Here’s a bit about Pat paraphrased from her bio accompanying her article in the Eriginea, Number 22, Winter 2009. Patricia Armstrong has her BA in Biology from North Central College, MS in Botany-Ecology from UIC. She has been both a traditional as well as nontraditional educator. She was manager for the Schulenburg Prairie at the Morton Arboretum for many years. Her consulting business, Prairie Sun Consulting is run from her home along the Will and DuPage County border.

This home is weighing on her as her savings are facing a long life and aging house. Her 1980s era home, on a typical suburban tract at the time, is now home to 400+ species of native plants as well as a green roof. She has contacted North Central College about donating the property to her alma mater but was told they can’t manage it. A ninety -year-old woman can, but they can’t. If it were donated to them, it would be sold and likely a bulldozer would show up, destroy everything and a standard issue mc-mansion built. Heartbreaking for a woman who has watched foxes rear kits on her place.

Another issue is a collection of phenological data on the property for nearly 40 years with notes taken the 1st and 15th of each month. And then there are years of detailed field trip notebook. This is a treasure trove of raw data waiting for someone to collate and examine for trends. Potentially it could be a great research project. And she burns her prairie yard.

My question and a question many people face when establishing an extensive prairie planting in a yard or on acres is this: how do we preserve and protect such quality endeavors? Another question, how can her notes and observations be saved for prosperity?

Illinois Native Plant Society members, your ideas and thoughts please. Pat Armstrong isn’t the only one among us going to face this topic.