I am mailing a check for $1,000 for the Arlington Wetlands challenge in honor and memory of Dr. Richard Andrews, a deceased Zoology professor at Eastern Illinois University. I worked as a lab assistant for him from 1968-1971 and as such, I had the opportunity to work deer check stations in Hardin, Pope, and Horseshoe Lake in Alexander County. I worked wild turkey check stations during the first modern season in Alexander county and then Jackson and Pope Counties. In those days we collected blood samples, fecal samples and took down a lot of data from successful hunters. Dr. Andrews was primarily interested in wildlife diseases so I got to assist in a lot of research regarding parasites, birth rates in deer, and processing blood samples.
The Illinois Department of Conservation ( as it was called then) was attempting to establish a sustainable population of ruffed grouse in northern Pope County and every spring a group of students and Dr. Andrews would do census work by walking the ridges of northern Pope County listening for drumming grouse. There are many hilarious stories about these times but I will share one. Jeff Hodges and I left the New Liberty Baptist Church where we slept on the floor about an hour before daylight, we cut across the cemetery to go down Church Hollow to get to the ridge above Lusk Creek with Jeff going north and me going south. As we walked through the cemetery, Jeff briefly disappeared but came out screaming, running like the devil was after him. He leaped over the fence around the cemetery, running as fast as his long legs would carry him. I caught up with him about a half-mile down the hollow to find him sitting on a boulder still trying to catch his breath. I asked if he was OK and his reply was that he felt a hand grab his ankle and after 10 minutes of laughing our tails off we resumed our hikes to our prospective routes.
There were many, many stories that could be told from that time period. Needless to say, without the opportunity to work for Dick, I would have missed out on a wonderful time in my life. The main thing Dr. Andrews taught me was to believe in myself and what I could accomplish.
I know he would have really enjoyed exploring Arlington Wetlands as I do.