Retired industrialist and conservationist David F. Grohne, of Wilmington, was one of five individuals inducted Saturday into the Illinois Outdoors Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Illinois Conservation Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Although Grohne is the one inducted, the biographic information from the conservation foundation praises him and his wife, Marg, as “longtime passionate supporters of efforts to enhance and expand wetland habitat to benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.”

In 2017, the Grohnes were honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and Wetlands America Trust when a 1,380-acre waterfowl protection area in North Dakota was named in their honor “in recognition of a lifetime of philanthropic support, leadership and service to Ducks Unlimited and Wetlands America Trust.

“As one of the country’s most ardent supporters of Ducks Unlimited’s conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region, Dave exemplifies the highest ideals of leading by example” the announcement noted. “Naming federal lands in honor of private citizens is rarely done, and it is a high honor for both the Grohnes and Ducks Unlimited to have their name forever identified with one of the jewels’ of the Missouri Coteau (region) of North Dakota.

“Their support has helped conserve thousands of acres of critical waterfowl nesting habitat, restore and preserve crucial duck migration habitat in the Illinois River Valley, and fund numerous important waterfowl research projects in conjunction with the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, Delta Waterfowl Foundation and The Wetlands Initiative,” the hall of fame announcement noted.

“Through the Independence Tube Corporation and the D.F. and M.T. Grohne Family Foundation, nearly $800,000 has been donated to fund nature field trips for more than 100,000 students through the Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant program managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,” the announcement noted. “Mr. Grohne realizes the value in providing students and teachers with the opportunity to take their learning outside the classroom, and to experience nature.”

One nominator wrote: “There is no more outstanding example of a citizen conservationist than Dave Grohne; Illinois is lucky to have him, and his efforts will last for generations to come.”

In 2015, Grohne and James C. Kennedy, of Atlanta, gave $2 million to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, to establish an endowed faculty position in waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

Grohne is the former chairman of the board the Chicago based Independent Tube Corp, a manufacturer of metal tubing that was purchased in 2016 by Nucor Corp for $425 million.

Other new honorees by the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame are:

Diane Banta, of Chicago, 35-year National Park Service employee of the National Park Service, whose accomplishments included completion of the Cal-Sag Trail, the formation of the Hakmatack National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Illinois and southeast Wisconsin and the expanded development of water trails, including canoeing and kayaking along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Sylvan “Jerry” Beverlin, of Petersburg, hired by the Illinois Department of Conservation when he was 18 and continuing a long career that included superintendent at a number of state sites, service for 15 years as director of the office of land management and being instrumental in the acquisition and development of the Lowden-Miller State Forest, the Jim Edgar Panther Creek Sate Fish and Wildlife Area and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex.

Sam Oliver, of Barrington, “one of the best-known conservationist of northeast Illinois, and director of the 700 volunteers of the Barrington-based Citizens for Conservation, an organization she led as staff director from 1984 to 2015.”

Steve Widowski, of Vienna, who served most of his professional career as a wildlife biologist of the U.S. Forest Service in the Shawnee National Forest and of influence enhancing wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities far beyond that Southern Illinois region.

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