THE 2022 LEADERSHIP AWARD
The Illinois Prescribed Fire Council’s Leadership Award recognizes individuals with exceptional achievements in the prescribed fire community.
As Mark Phipps, IDNR stated it, “Mr. Eilers is the champion and advocate for local remnants of prairie, barrens, flatwoods, woodlands and forests. Some of the first prescribed fire to ever be employed within a forested context in Illinois were led by Henry. He was on the forefront of applying prescribed fire to manage our fire dependent natural communities. In the 1980s, Henry invited many conservation professionals to tour the Shoal Creek Conservation Area and witness the many sun-loving plants under the oak canopy.”
32 years ago, Henry Eilers started using prescribed fire to manage Shoal Creek Conservation Area. Two decades ago, Henry had the insight to begin selective thinning of the canopy, with ongoing overseeding with the area transformed into beautiful and diverse habitats.
Henry has been active with the Illinois Native Plant Society for years, writing a monthly article for them and growing plants for an annual sale.
Henry Eilers is now 87 years old and we celebrate his decades long leadership in fire and natural areas stewardship.
THE 2022 Spark AWARD
The Illinois Prescribed Fire Council’s Spark Award recognizes individuals with high achievement early in a career.
As Brad Semel stated it on his nomination of Zach Grycan, “Zach looks ahead to the challenges of doing burns safely and effectively so has found a way to purchase the equipment critical for that task, and also to assemble a cadre of volunteers to help. His efforts have increased the number and size of fires that have impacted natural areas they manage, as well as to increase the overall acres burned by partners that he has helped.
Zach has initiated, in partnership with other conservation groups, prescribed burn training workshops for those interested in learning how to manage their own land and volunteering for NLI and other conservation organizations”
As Josh Sage stated, “Zach has spent many hours preparing Natural Land Institute properties for safe and effective fire. He has made effective purchases of fire fighting equipment which has made his program more safe and efficient. He is always willing to share his experiences with equipment and technique.”