Limberlost naturalist to speak at historical museum

Curt Burnette, the naturalist and program developer for the Limberlost State Historic Site, will speak at the Huntington County Historical Museum on March 21.
Curt Burnette, the naturalist and program developer for the Limberlost State Historic Site, will speak at the Huntington County Historical Museum on March 21. Photo provided.

Curt Burnette, the naturalist and program developer for the Limberlost State Historic Site, will present a PowerPoint titled “Gene Stratton-Porter and Her Limberlost Legacy” at the Huntington County Historical Museum on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m.

Burnette’s presentation will include Stratton-Porter’s life story and career accomplishments, as well as a history of the Limberlost Swamp she wrote about — its destruction and modern rebirth. Stratton-Porter (1863-1924) was a self-trained best-selling American author, nature photographer and naturalist.

In 1917, Stratton-Porter used her position and influence as a popular, well-known author to urge legislative support for the conservation of Limberlost Swamp and other wetlands in the state of Indiana. She was also a silent film-era producer who founded her own production company, Gene Stratton Porter Productions, in 1924.

Burnette was born in central Illinois and grew up on a hog farm and grain elevator operation until his family moved to northwest Indiana when he was 14.

He graduated from Kankakee Valley High School near Demotte and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife science from Purdue University.

After a few years of zoo work in Lafayette and Indianapolis, he headed south to New Orleans, where he remained for 22 years working at the Audubon Zoo, a nature center, an endangered species breeding center, a swamp tour, a nuisance animal control business and part-time at a community college as a teacher.

Hurricane Katrina pro-mpted his move back home again to Indiana, where he was a senior zookeeper at the Indianapolis Zoo for 4-1/2 years. He began working at the Limberlost State Historic Site in January 2012.

Admission is free to members; there is a small admission fee for nonmembers. Refreshments will be provided.