Chesterton Tribune



Flag raised at Dunes Learning Center in honor of Lee Botts

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Long may Lee Botts’ flag wave, over the Dunes Learning Center (DLC) at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, was the special guest at a flag-raising ceremony to honor Botts, a nationally recognized Dunes environmentalist who founded the DLC in 1998.

The flag raised on Tuesday--once flown over the U.S. Capitol--was originally presented to Botts nine years ago by Visclosky on the occasion of her 80th birthday, on behalf of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which Botts also founded.

As Visclosky noted in a short speech to the assembled DLC campers--the Mighty Acorns--Botts’ legacy is one of stewardship, her drive and commitment “to take what God has given us and be good stewards and leave it not as we found it but to make it a little bit better.”

The flag raised on Tuesday “is a special flag,” Visclosky added, “because this is a special country. And despite all the travail and hubbub you see in the media, there is great bipartisan desire in Congress to work for environmental and water quality.”

Botts herself was unable to attend the ceremony but her son, Paul Botts, joked that, besides the “four official children” to whom his mother gave birth, she has two more: the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Dunes Learning Center.

His mother, Botts added, asks about the Mighty Acorns at the DLC “all the time.”

For DLC Executive Director Geof Benson, the flag-raising more than anything else was a celebration of Botts and “big thinkers” like Botts. “Where would we be without people imagining a better future and willing to take the bold steps to get there?”

The whole idea of the DLC, Benson said, is to encourage “a lasting curiosity” about the environment and a commitment to its stewardship. And it has always been Botts’ abiding wish that the Mighty Acorns “be the next generation of big thinkers,” some 100,000 of whom have camped at the DLC or attended educational programs there since its founding. It was with the Mighty Acorns specifically in mind, Benson added, that Botts asked for her flag to be flown over the DLC.

National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Chris Pergiel, for his part, told the Mighty Acorns that “sustainability” is the DLC’s driving ethic. “We tend to think of sustainability as an environmental, ecological idea. I think of it operationally, how to keep the park running from day to day. But in the work that’s done here at the Dunes Learning Center, and in the work Lee has done, sustainability is all about creating the next generation of people who will love the great outdoors and want to work in it and for it.”


Posted 8/4/2017




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