In 1996, wildlife expert Jim Fowler addressed a crowd of 500 people in Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theater. Also in attendance were a llama, a snake and several other animals. This was the first Charlotte Bates Fenlon Memorial Lecture, and the series has grown in popularity in the 20 years since.
“(Charlotte) was an early volunteer at Mosquito Hill, and as her legacy, she asked that a speaker series be set up to benefit the nature center,” explains Dave Horst of The Community Foundation, home to the Charlotte Bates Fenlon Memorial Fund.
The lectures serve to promote interest in the environment and Mosquito Hill Nature Center, a county park located amidst 430 acres of prairie and forest trails along the Wolf River near New London.
On Oct. 16, the Fenlon Lecture Series will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a very special guest: beloved zookeeper, television personality and animal lover Jack Hanna. “We’ve been planning this one for several years,” says Horst, explaining the long process Mosquito Hill has undergone to land a big anniversary speaker.
Scheduled to take place at the Kimberly High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., the lecture will feature guest animals along with Hanna himself. Families and children will enjoy the presentation along with Mosquito Hill regulars, many of whom were contemporaries of Fenlon and have regularly attended the lectures in her honor. “We’re expecting to sell out the 700 seats. We hope that the kind of following Jack Hanna has will excite people about the outdoors,” says Horst. “He’s got a real broad appeal.”
The most notable presentation to date was by primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall; 1,100 people congregated at Lawrence Memorial Chapel for her lecture in 2001. Other highlights include Operation Migration ultralight pilot Joe Duff in 2004 and National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting in 2006. After Jack Hanna’s lecture, he will surely be added to the list of the greats, and Mosquito Hill Nature Center will continue to fulfill Fenlon’s wish to spread the love of nature to all.
Tickets are available at Mosquito Hill as well as online at showtix4u.com.