ISU emeritus professor to be inducted into Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame

September 23, 2009

Marion Jackson is joining some select company.

Jackson, an Indiana State University professor emeritus of life sciences, is one of 15 inductees in the inaugural class of the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame.

"This was a surprise to me," Jackson said. "I didn't even realize I was being considered for this honor."

The inductees include former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison; Charles Deam, a plant scientist; Gene Stratton-Porter, author of several books; and Richard Leiber, who organized the Indiana Division of Natural Resources and the state park system in Indiana.

"It's pretty select company," Jackson said. "Many people have contributed in the past and are no longer living."

"The Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame was created to demonstrate the difference inspired individuals can make in the protection of our endangered natural and cultural heritage," according to the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation Web site.

The editor of two books, "The Natural Heritage of Indiana," which Jackson said people described as a coffee table book, and "101 Trees of Indiana," has been a member of the ISU community for many years.

"I came to Indiana State in 1964 and taught here until the fall semester of 2002 in the biology and life sciences department," Jackson said.

He then taught classes at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods until his retirement on July 1, 2006.

In 2008, "The Natural Heritage of Indiana" aired as a four-part documentary series. Documentary filmmaker Samuel Orr spent more than two years working with Jackson in turning the book into the series.

"I think Indiana is the first state to have documentaries of the natural history of the state," Jackson said.

Peter Scott, ISU associate professor of biology, has worked with Jackson for more than 10 years.

"I know him as a colleague. In fact, I inherited the ecology course from him," Scott said. "He and I share an interest in ecology generally and especially in plant ecology. This is very well deserved. He's had a big impact in directing the state's conservation goals."

Scott attributes Jackson's recognition to his "social success in the conservation world and deep knowledge of the state-he's a native Hoosier."

Jackson has been involved with the Indiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy for many years, serving as president for a term in the late 1970s.

"At the state level he is very widely known," Scott said.

Jackson also worked with the Indiana Natural Heritage Program and the Indiana Division of Nature Preserves, inventorying the locations and habitat conditions of rare, threatened and endangered species of plants and animals of Indiana.

Scott said Jackson remains interested in the forest ecology of particular sites.

"One of his loves is old grove woods, which give us a feeling for what old woods looked like," Scott said.

During graduate school, Jackson studied at Purdue University under professor Alton Lindsey. A fellow inductee into the Hall of Fame, Damian Schmeltz, also studied with Lindsey at Purdue at the same time as Jackson.

"It's interesting that two of us who majored with the same professor at Purdue are both receiving this honor. We were graduate students together at Purdue," Jackson said. "I'm sure he's just as astonished as I was to receive this honor. I'm really astonished and very pleased to receive this honor."

The dinner and program honoring the inductees will be at 6 p.m. Friday (Sept. 25) at The Garrison at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis. The Natural Resources Foundation and the Indiana Wildlife Federation are co-hosts of the event. For more information about the Hall of Fame or the induction ceremony, visit www.in.gov/inrf.


Writer: Lana Schrock, Indiana State University, media relations assistant, 812-237-3773 or lschrock1@indstate.edu

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/126722734-L.jpg