Natural Land Institute presents award

Dr. Richard Newsome of Beloit, Wis., is this year’s recipient of the George and Barbara Fell Award presented by the Natural Land Institute to honor individuals who demonstrate outstanding dedication to land conservation.

Jack Cook, board president, presented the award at the annual meeting of the Natural Land Institute at Cliffbreakers in Rockford.

“We’re proud to honor Dick Newsome for his dedication to education and to the preservation of natural areas,” said Cook. “He’s widely known in our region for his work with Beloit College students at Newark Road Prairie and for founding the Rock County Conservationists group and the Welty Environmental Center near Beloit.”

To assist with stewardship at the Newark Road Prairie, Newsome needed help from his students and from members of the community. He recruited dozens of volunteers to care for this rare example of what was once an extensive prairie that covered Rock County, Wis. With many of these volunteers at the core, he founded the Rock County Conservationists in 1987 as a not-for-profit, educational, organization dedicated to promoting and supporting conservation of natural resources and restoration of natural wildlife habitat.

Land and education were again Dick Newsome’s focus when he co-founded the Welty Environmental Center in 1998. Located on Raccoon Creek west of Beloit, the center offers youngsters from southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois opportunities to learn about food chains and wildlife habitats and to participate in activities such as gathering maple sap in the springtime.

Newsome attended Western Michigan University and Marquette University and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. In 1965, he began his career at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he taught courses in botany and ecology and conducted research for 32 years. At the college, he established and taught a class in Environmental biology, which was soon to become a favorite of science and non-science majors. Newsome would go on to advise students in the field of environmental biology for two decades.

Newsome retains his office at Beloit College and continues some of the activities that were his profession. He said: “I continue to assist with the management of Newark Road Prairie, I advise the college on campus landscape matters and promote the restoration of native species to selected areas of the campus. I also continue to process the plants I collected for the college herbarium, and both give and attend programs in the college’s Elderhostel Affiliate Program—Society for Learning Unlimited.”

Newsome served on the board of the Natural Land Institute from 1986 to 1996. He is a member of the organization’s Science Advisory Committee, and helps with management and stewardship of natural areas that include the Nygren Wetland Preserve near Rockton and Nieman Marsh near Pecatonica.

from the March 28-April 3, 2007, issue

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