At Save the Dunes’ 60th Anniversary Gala Event in October, Save the Dunes honored a number of prominent figures in efforts to protect the Indiana Dunes. Chief among these were Harold Olin and Irene Herlocker-Meyer, who received the Paul H. Douglas award in honor of their deep commitment to our mission. These distinguished individuals deserve our respect and admiration for all the work they have done to protect Northwest Indiana’s most precious resources.
Harold Olin is a passionate conservationist and dunes supporter. He has been active in many national and regional environmental organizations. For example, he served as president of the Lake Michigan Region Planning Council, the Lake Michigan Federation, and the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. He also held the vice presidency of the Save the Dunes Council for many years. While holding these posts, Mr. Olin became involved in many environmental campaigns in Northwest Indiana related to the formation and expansion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, lakefront industrial development, pollution, and erosion. Membership on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Advisory Commission also enabled him to participate in decisions affecting the local environment. Mr. Olin graduated with his architectural degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1954- including studying with legend Mies van der Rohe. He is known as an incredibly talented architect, conservation leader, and passionate activist. He remains actively engaged in our work at Save the Dunes to this day, and for this we are most grateful.
Irene Herlocker-Meyer didn’t join Save the Dunes until the 1960s, but she did work tirelessly for more than a decade to save what the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame calls “Indiana’s last remaining grassland.” Irene Herlocker-Meyer said her eyes were opened to the natural world when she joined a neighbor in bird watching. She once said “Coming from Indiana Harbor (in East Chicago), what did I know about birds? I knew sparrows and robins.”
She joined her neighbors in Hammond and Munster to watch the birds and was delighted with what she discovered. It was only when a neighbor and bird-watching friend was moving to Texas that she took Herlocker-Meyer to what had been her “secret place” for watching. It was a revelation. That place, which has come to be known as the Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve, the last remaining undisturbed grassland in Indiana, is in an unlikely location. In densely populated Lake County, Hoosier Prairie crosses the boundaries of Highland, Griffith and Schererville. It is home to 574 plant species and 120 species of birds. Herlocker-Meyer, a life trustee of the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, worked for more than a decade to protect the beauty of both the wet and dry prairie. Irene’s dedication ensured that this gorgeous portion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be protected for generations to come.
Additional awards were presented throughout the evening. Deb Chubb and Susan MiHalo received the President’s Award, and Tom Serynek was elected as an Honorary Lifetime Board Member. Sylvia Troy, past president of Save the Dunes, was honored with the naming of the Sylvia Troy Room at Barker House, the home of Save the Dunes.