PPRI mission, success a tribute to Bill and Jan Whitney

Article Image Alt Text

Bill and Jan Whitney started a labor of love few people understood back in 1980. What a novel idea, they proclaimed, to preserve, maintain and restore native prairies and wetlands, and what better place to do it than right here in Hamilton County?
Four decades later, their initial vision is visible for all to see in the form of beautiful, natural prairies used for community education, recreation and sustainable economic development. The husband and wife duo is now handing over the keys to the Prairie Plains Resource Institute, retiring together from a shared mission that has been their life’s work.
Knowing their humble nature, Bill and Jan would prefer not to create a lot of fuss over their retirement. They would no doubt rather PPRI, its talented young staff and the vast prairies they helped restore speak for them. But it is deserving, and oh so appropriate, to shed some light, and perspective, on what has been accomplished under the Whitney’s watchful eye.
The Prairie Plains Resource Institute is a rare and wonderful thing, just like the natural prairies at the center of it all, rooted into the land such that it will last for generations to come. It is largely funded by a self-sustaining business model which utilizes PPRI’s expertise and relationships to find, harvest and apply high diversity native seeds when and where needed. Not only is there a growing business demand for that product and expertise, it also echoes the core mission Bill and Jan envisioned so very long ago. That is simply astounding.
Many folks may share the Whitney’s love of the land, but what is so unique about their story is the way they created a vision as young twentysomethings and just kept plodding along. They could not have known what path would lead to the organization’s eventual success, but remained committed, one picked seed, one restored acre and one enlightened youth at a time.
Among the many milestones you’ll read about in this week’s front page story is the launch of the Summer Orientation About Rivers program. SOAR offered a quintessential platform to introduce a whole new generation of kids to nature, with PPRI and a growing circle of friends and educators fully engaged in explaining and exploring the wonders of the prairie.
Another major milestone, among many, was the concept of building an education center where the prairie and nature would be the focus of the curriculum. The Whitneys helped drive the boat on the Charles L. Whitney Education Center, which started in 2006 and is set to finally debut later this year.
All are examples of their patience, perseverance, vision and commitment to provide places that allow people to enjoy the land in its purest form. What a precious legacy, indeed!
Kurt Johnson

Rate this article: 
No votes yet