Prairie Visions’ lasting impact on county

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

Be like Mike?.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Be like Mike?

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Forget Mike.

I want to be like Bernie, Gerald, Roman and all the other Prairie Visions’ warriors.

Another generation can aspire to be like Michael Jordan.

I admire Mr. Halver, Mr. Meier and Mr. Landherr.

Prairie Visions’ Mike Adams is only 60 and there’s no telling how old Ed Koppen is, but Bernie, Gerald and Roman are role models for me.

We’re talking 70-somethings here, who see no boundaries to growing older.

I believe I was at the very first Prairie Visions meeting ever held and every time I return I see the same faces.

It’s been over a decade now that Prairie Visions was created. The joint ventures agreement between Rose Creek, Adams, Taopi and LeRoy has never been stronger. So good are these volunteers at promoting the quality of life in Mower County, that they have become a role model for other volunteers in other states.

All right, the first Doo Dah Days at Taopi was a bust. Nobody came and those who did couldn’t get excited about Doo Dah.

But that was an exception. The rest has been a series of successes and the most recent was the sweetest.

The Federal Highway Administration gave Prairie Visions its excellence in scenic byways award for the Shooting Star Wildflower Route along Highway 56.

Volunteer fire departments from LeRoy, Adams and Rose Creek also were honored for their contributions to the Scenic Byways project.

And, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Department of Transportation also were honored.

But, by and large, this was a Prairie Visions thing.

The Shooting Star Wildflower Route was the state of Minnesota’s first designated Scenic Byways project.

A ribbon of land between Highway 56 and the abandoned Chicago Greater Western railroad right-of-way, stretching from U.S. Highway 63 to Interstate 90 has native prairie tall grasses and wildflowers unlike any other.

It’s only grass and posies, but it’s truly unique and its part of what attracted your ancestors to the rich farmland of Mower County; an important part.

If you’ve followed Prairie Visions, you know how important this Federal Highway Administration award is.

What it does is validate their work. It says all the hours spent on the project, all the blank stares when they told people they were going to save grass and posies, all the hands-on work paid off.

Gerald and Marjorie Meier have been there from the start. Bernie and Joyce Halver, too. Roman and Bernice Landherr, Mike Adams and Eileen Evans came on board early in the lifetime of Prairie Visions, too.

There were others. I’m thinking of Eileen Hutchins and her husband, Doug, and Hizzonner Ed Koppen, too.

Others have come and gone, but the corps of Prairie Visions volunteers has remained,

It is always the same faces, the same voices promoting the quality of life in Mower County as Prairie Visions members.

How do they do it? Why do they do it?

If you or I were faced with the Shooting Star recreation trail from LeRoy to Austin and the agonizingly slow pace of its development, would we hang on to the end? I doubt it.

With pluck and perseverance, the warriors of Prairie Visions keep fighting for attention to Mower County and I admire them.

We don’t know it now, but what Prairie Visions is doing will have a lasting impact on Mower County.

Think about it, one-of-a-kind native prairie grasses and wildflowers that could have been banished from the ecosystem by development, a recreation trail connecting all of Mower County literally from one end to the other and every other gesture, large or small, to promote life in Mower County.

They are, indeed, getting older these Prairie Visions volunteers.

Better, too.

Guess who are my nominees for the Mower County Outstanding Senior Citizen award at the Mower County Fair this summer?

Lee Bonorden’s column appears Thursdays. Call him at 434-2232 or e-mail him at