Learn about the importance of early pioneer cemeteries in Illinois


LA SALLE - Join the LaSalle Library as they host botanist and naturalist, Chris Benda, for a virtual presentation of “Pioneer Cemetery Prairies of Illinois.” The program will be presented on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

Despite Illinois being called “The Prairie State,” there has been a nearly complete conversion of the native tallgrass prairie to agriculture and other development. Much of the remaining high-quality prairie in the state occurs in small pioneer cemeteries, which were set aside in the late 1800s. This unique program will explain what makes a cemetery prairie special and why it is important to protect and preserve them. There are 29 Pioneer Cemetery Prairies in Illinois, with two in the Illinois Valley area – Hetzler Cemetery Prairie in Bureau County and Mt. Palatine Cemetery Prairie in Putnam County.

Benda is a past president of the Illinois Native Plant Society (2015-2016). A native of Minnesota, he moved to Illinois from California in 2004 and received a Master’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 2007. Besides conducting botanical fieldwork around the world, he teaches the Flora of Southern Illinois at Southern Illinois University and a variety of classes at The Morton Arboretum, as well as leading nature tours for Camp Ondessonk. He has research appointments with the University of Illinois and Argonne National Laboratory and is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois.

This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link. Register by going to https://bit.ly/3pdpjyq. If you prefer to connect to this program using an iPad or smartphone rather than a computer, need more information or have questions, please contact Rachael Blomquist, Digital Content Librarian, at [email protected] or call the library at (815) 223-2341. 

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