Prairie Rivers honors two
CHAMPAIGN — The Prairie Rivers Network is honoring Kevin Cummings and Suzanne Smith for their work in protecting and promoting the health of Illinois rivers and wildlife, at the organization's annual dinner.
Cummings, a scientist at the University of Illinois, will receive the outstanding public servant award for his career spent researching freshwater mussels, often called "the livers of the rivers."
And for her many years of volunteer work, Smith of rural Homer will receive the river steward award.
The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C, with music by Tom Turino. Dinner follows at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please call 344-2371 ext. 200 or visit http://www.prairierivers.org/dinner.
As a senior research scientist at the Prairie Research Institute's Illinois Natural History Survey, Cummings is an expert on mussels and their protection and conservation. For decades, he has monitored mussels throughout Illinois, the Midwest and around the world. Recently, Cummings undertook an effort to reintroduce threatened and endangered mussels to the Middle Fork and Salt Fork rivers.
Smith has been a champion for the Salt Fork and Middle Fork rivers, organizing cleanups, taking on drainage issues and promoting restored wildlife habitat. Smith was a co-founder of Salt Fork River Partners, a group of area residents dedicated to conservation of the river. Most recently, Smith has been a leader in Stand Up to Coal — a group opposed to the proposed Bulldog coal mine in western Vermilion County.
The evening's keynote speaker will be media scholar Robert McChesney, who will discuss his new book, "Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America."