Natural Land Institute is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2024 George and Barbara Fell Award is Dan Kane. Kane recently retired after serving 23 years as Executive Director of the Boone County Conservation District (BCCD).

As a geologist, Dan began his career in the oil and gas industry, but realized it was not for him and migrated over to the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District to pursue the protection of natural resources. In 2000, he began his illustrious career at BCCD, which held more than 1,700 acres of land. By his last day he had more than doubled BCCD’s holdings (more than 4,200 acres) and created 22 additional conservation areas, primarily by acquiring grants. As the BCCD Resolution No. 07-2023-A states, “DAN KANE is King of the Grant community!” The following conservation areas have been protected by BCCD — Ballard, Distillery Annex, LIB Annex, Sewell, Funderburg North and South, Piscasaw Fen, Rainbow Gardens, Nelson Ford, Newburg Village, Ipsen, Savanna Oaks, Beaver Bluffs, Silberhorn, Youssi, Smeja, Schneeman/Leeson, Winding Creek, East County Line, Kishwaukee Valley, as well as Lucky and Morrall LPT Annex, Thunder Pavilion, Brown Conservation Park and McKiski Fen. His successor, Joshua Sage, commented that “George and Barbara Fell would be proud of how Dan was able to squeeze blood out of a turnip in the name of land protection.”

The award is named for George B. Fell who founded the Natural Land Institute in 1958, and his wife Barbara. They devoted their lives to the protection of natural areas in Illinois and were committed to protecting Illinois’ natural heritage so rare and endangered plant and animal species would be here for future generations.

Additional information about the award and a list of past recipients can be found here.

NLI will present the award to Kane at their Annual Dinner on April 4, 2024 at The Radisson Conference Center in Rockford. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7:15 p.m. In addition to presenting the award, the program includes guest speaker Alan Branhagen, Executive Director of NLI. His topic will be “What’s Up with Trees?” Branhagen is author of three books. Two will be on sale that evening and he will be available to sign them: Midwest Native Plant Primer and Native Plants of the Midwest.

Cost of the Annual Dinner is $65 per person or $60 for NLI members. Tables of 8 are also available to purchase. Reservations should be made by March 29th and can be made online HERE or by calling 815/964-6666.

Sponsors of the Annual Dinner are White Oak ($1500): WilliamsMcCarthy LLP; Red Oak (Table, $1000): Paul and Teri Baits, The Eggers Family, Boone County Conservation District, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., Rockford Park District, Studio GWA; Swamp White Oak ($500): Law Office of George M. Covington, LLC, Davey Resource Group, Midwest Packaging and Container, NorthPointe a Health & Wellness Campus, Olson Ecological Solutions, LLC, and Specialty Screw Corporation.



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