Genius at conservation, identifying plants in southern Illinois, will be missed

Shane MalawyThe flora and fauna community of southern Illinois is a little greener today thanks to the efforts of Jack Brooks.

Brooks, of Nashville, is virtually a self made man. Brooks’ passion for the outdoors led him to an interest deeply rooted in southern Illinois soil. After only one field course at SIU-C under the direction of the esteemed Dr. Robert Mohlenbrock, Brooks was deemed an exceptional student in the field identification of plants.

Retired Illinois Natural Heritage Biologist Marty Kemper has said that Brooks is a “genius at identifying plants." Within a span of 20 years, Brooks has gone on to identify and record over 600 plants that had previously been unrecorded in Washington, Clinton and neighboring counties.

Brooks’ legacy includes work in Washington and Clinton counties as well as the Shawnee National Forest including work in the Little Grand Canyon and Heron Pond areas. He is also responsible for working with botanical experts from the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Missouri Botanical Garden. In working with these organizations, Brooks was able to collect and identify plant specimens, catalog the specimens and distribute the specimens to museums.

Brooks’ contributions to the Illinois ecosystem have been unparalleled. His work in botany, the identification and recording of plants and the volunteer hours of eradication of invasive species at the Washington County Conservation Area have, in my opinion, earned him a place in the DNR history books. Through the efforts of Jack Brooks, the southern Illinois botanical populace has a better understanding of our natural heritage.

Jack Brooks died on May 1, 2013 at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer.

Categories: Illinois – Shane Malawy, Social Media

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