Our History

Markham resident, Cal Barber, organizes a group of conservation minded citizens with the intent of preserving the prairies in Markham. The group becomes known as The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies. Cal also begins publication of The Paintbrush Prairie Newsletter calling it “A Chronicle of the Indian Boundary Prairies of Markham.”
Next, Cal designs a logo in which a living symbol is used to represent each of the four prairies. The fox pup represents Gensburg, the Sundrop and Indian Paintbrush flowers stand for the Sundrop and Paintbrush Prairies, and the Bobolink for Dropseed Prairie where it was once very common.

The Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy awards The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies the first ever Volunteer Appreciation Award in recognition of the strong community support generated by The Friends to protect the Indian Boundary Prairies. The award comes with a $100 cash prize which is used for newsletter publication.

The State of Illinois grants FOIBP General Not-For-Profit Status.

The Markham City Council and Mayor Evans Miller join FOIBP President Sandy Mishur and many other Friends as the U. S. Department of the Interior dedicates Gensburg-Markham Prairie as a National Natural Landmark. In his address to the group, Mayor Miller states, “The University may own the land, but it’s our prairie. It belongs to every one of you. You have conferred ownership upon yourselves by your intent.”

The Nature Conservancy honors FOIBP President Sandy Mishur, Vice President Mike Kirk, and member Ron Panzer, with Volunteer Appreciation Awards for their work on the Markham prairies.

FOIBP is awarded $350 by the Illinois Department of Conservation. The funds are used to print brochures and trail guides for the Indian Boundary Prairies.
President George Derkovitz and Dropseed Prairie Steward Patricia Brownlow are honored for their work on the Markham prairies at The Nature Conservancy’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

Members of FOIBP applaud as the Markham City Council passes a resolution stating that the official city motto will be “The Prairie Capital of the Prairie State”.
Member Phil Hahn receives The Nature Conservancy’s Volunteer Appreciation Award.
The Field Museum invites FOIBP to participate in the opening of the new exhibit “Messages from the Wilderness” with a display of prairie photos.

The annual meeting of The Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy takes place on a site adjacent to Sundrop Prairie. Event Chairman Wendy Paulson thanks FOIBP saying, “This is the first time a local group has taken on the burden of acting as hosts for an annual meeting.”
Helen Mitchell and Theresa Stepenski are honored at TNC’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon for their work with FOIBP on behalf of the Markham prairies.
Al Reuss and Karl Bartel are honored by FOIBP for their many years of work in photographing the Indian Boundary Prairies, giving talks and slide shows, and being monitors of prairie plant and animal species.

The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies have four members honored at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. The event is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, The Illinois Department of Conservation, and the Cook County Forest Preserve District. The four FOIBP people honored are Ed Bruell, Fred Davis, Janice Graden, and Wanda Pagel.

The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies celebrate 10 years of caring for the prairies of Markham, IL, with a special slide show given by Ron Panzer at The Markham Public Library. The group also hosts the Hody Coyote puppet show for children at Dropseed Prairie.
Eric Schiavi receives a Volunteer Appreciation Award from The Nature Conservancy for his work as a prairie steward.

Adult leaders are trained by FOIBP members to lead students in The Mighty Acorns Stewardship Program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. These trained leaders take students from a local school to visit Sundrop Prairie several times during the school year. The young people are able to learn about this unique habitat and take part in the stewardship activities of seed collecting, brush cutting, and litter removal.

With the help of Steve Kiebler and his airplane, Prairie Steward Eric Schiavi takes a set of aerial photographs of the Indian Boundary Prairies to highlight the effects of restoration efforts.

Many FOIBP members are present during a controlled burn on Gensburg Prairie
while TV reporter Bill Curtis and his video production crew film the event. The footage is added to his segment on prairie fires and included in Curtis’s special on The Chicago Wilderness.

The City of Markham celebrates its 75th Anniversary. FOIBP participates by designing a float and joining in the anniversary parade.

The Thorn Creek Audubon Society awards a grant to FOIBP. The funds are used for the planting of hazelnut shrubs on the perimeter of Dropseed Prairie. These native shrubs offer shelter for birds and provide a barrier along the expressway.

With great pride, The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies celebrate 20 years of preservation, restoration, and education for the rare and beautiful prairies of Markham.
Approximately 100 people meet near Dropseed Prairie to hear speakers, listen to prairie related music, and enjoy hot dogs and anniversary cake.

Braving the heat of the summer, 20 high school students help remove non-native plants from Dropseed Prairie. They are part of a youth works program sponsored by the Markham based Link and Options Center and are aided by FOIBP volunteers.

The FOIBP is awarded a grant in the amount of $500 by Thrivent, a fraternal organization attached to the Lutheran Church. The money is spent to design and print handouts for young people who come for prairie tours. With kids in mind, magnifying glasses and equipment for studying insects are also purchased. The remaining funds are used for work gloves, restoration tools, and a first aid kit.
The FOIBP qualifies for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Primary Academic Center of School District #144 adopts the theme, “Little School on the Prairie” for the school year. Volunteers from FOIBP visit the school each month to do a presentation on some aspect of the prairie habitat such as flowers, insects, birds, and mammals. At the end of the school year, Helen Taylor and Pat Brownlow help the students organize a show for parents and faculty on what it was like to live on the prairies in the 1860s.

Markham Mayor David Webb, and Director of Economic Development John Thompson, are instrumental when the City of Markham generously allows the use of a room in the Markham Community Center located at 156th and Homan Ave.
The Indian Boundary Prairies Information and Learning Center is established at the north end of the building. The room is used for meetings and to house historical information, books, and restoration and educational tools to be used by visitors to the prairies.

In conjunction with National Public Lands Day, The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies celebrate 25 years as an organization dedicated to the Markham Prairies.
A party is held at The Prairie Center complete with an anniversary cake and many other refreshments. Prairie tours are available for visitors while nature games are offered to children.

The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies join with The Thorn Creek Audubon Society in hosting a butterfly program for the public. Doug Taron of the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum presents “Butterflies of the American Prairies” at Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center. In the fall, FOIBP hosts “Incredible Bats” given by Sharon Peterson at the Markham Public Library.

The Prairie Information and Learning Center is the site for the photo exhibit “The Prairies Bloom in February” featuring the beautiful photographs of Ron Panzer and Ron Kurowski. Visitors are treated to the beauty of the Indian Boundary Prairies in the midst of winter.

A grant provided by The Nature Conservancy is used to print a series of new note cards using photos taken by Ron Panzer and Ron Kurowski. FOIBP next unveils a new banner also funded by the grant. It features people, the prairies, and the logos of FOIBP and TNC.

A “Landscaping with Native Plants” program is hosted at The Markham Public Library by The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies. It is presented by Janine Catchpole, president of the Illinois Native Plant Society.
The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies launch a new website, ibprairies.org, with the help of Anthony Perera.

Many people gather at the Golden Age Chateau adjacent to Dropseed Prairie to help The Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies celebrate 30 years dedicated to the prairie preserves of Markham and educating the surrounding communities about them.

The Indian Boundary Prairies are supported by