Spring-Summer 2008

Spring-Summer 2008 - Contributing Editors and Artists

Editor and publisher

LeAnn Spencer, the founder of A Prairie Journal, is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She worked for nearly three decades at the Chicago Tribune as an editor and writer. While there she wore many hats, but one of the most satisfying was during her years as an environmental reporter. Since 2003, she has been a regular contributor to Chicago Wilderness Magazine and a private publishing consultant. Most recently, she served as copy editor for the spring issue of Fifth Wednesday Journal. Her love for the natural world stems to her childhood on an Indiana farm. In the last 15 years, she has explored the positive influences of the human-animal-nature connection by working as a volunteer using therapy dogs to assist children in hospitals, schools and residential facilities. In her spare time, she’s a novice bird watcher and enjoys a part-time career as a professional harpist. She has a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Chicago, a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University, and is enrolled in the naturalist certificate program at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois.  


David Coulter has spent more than 25 years in urban horticulture. When not fighting buckthorn or coddling acorns, he can be found squinting at treetops hoping to spot interesting winged migrants. He’s happiest when kayaking Illinois’ Kankakee River. He likes the nature in his city like the sugar in coffee. His essays have appeared in print and on the web, and his work will be included in the upcoming book The Field Guide to Surreal Botany to be published by Two Cranes Press.

Patricia Cronin, a freelance writer and teacher, is also co-founder of The Writers WorkSpace in Chicago. She has an MFA in creative writing from Roosevelt University. She is a past contributor to A Prairie Journal, and her most recent work has appeared in IIT Magazine

A native of a small Colorado town between Longmont and Estes Park, George Finnell teaches seventh grade language arts on the plains of Eastern Colorado. He began attending a university in Munich, but he left behind academe for the tall mountains of his Colorado home to work as a backcountry ranger with the U.S. Forest Service and a ski bum in winter. Eventually, he finished his education, completing a B.A., M.A. and teacher certification at Colorado State in Fort Collins. He lives with his family and too many pets and does too much laundry every week.

Jannett Highfill is a long-time resident of Peoria, Illinois, one grown fond of corn and bean fields, the Illinois River and its numerous bridges and monumental bluffs. Originally from Kansas, she returns as often as she can to country roads straight as a stick and wheat fields stretching as far as you can see.  Her poems have been in, among others, The Iowa Review, Tar River Poetry, The Greensboro Review, and Rhino.

John Hill is the founder and principal photographer at Tigerhill Studio. John has a life-long passion for flying and photography, especially aerials. He combines that with a strong background in real estate development and engineering. This explains his ability to capture such quality aerial and architectural images, so consistently and so quickly. Once you see his breathtaking shots, one thing is for sure – you will remember them.

Landscape photographer Allen Lefebvre resides in Regina, SK., and has always lived in the heart of the Canadian prairies. Photography has been his passion for more than 30 years, with a particular affection for the prairie landscape. Allen acquired his photographic skills through hands-on experience, and despite having worked for both commercial photography studios and public art galleries, continues to focus on photography as an avocation rather than a professional pursuit. Reflecting his primary interest in landscapes and the broad expanses of the prairie, he has been concentrating on panoramic images using a unique wide-angle Noblex camera with a rotating lens that approximates the angle of view of the human eye. His artistic vision is simple: Capture the variety and depth of the landscape at its best, using the minimum of photographic tools and relying heavily on vision and the ability to “see.” Rarely does he venture out to create a specific image, preferring to prowl the back roads and capturing what is given to him.

For decades Mary Ramsden rarely picked up a camera but after she became grandmother to twin girls in 2002 she found herself catapulted into the world of photography. Since then, she’s taken thousands of pictures of the girls. Then, after annoying even her most indulgent friends, she began taking pictures of two of her other great loves: nature and the rest of her family. Ordained a priest in 1987, her life is rounded out with police chaplaincy, dog training, music, and a most patient husband.  They live in Summit, Il., with a passel of dogs who, when they’re not chasing tennis balls and each other’s tails, also serve as willing subjects for the camera.

Sherry Stratton has been drawn to nature all her life, from lakeside summers catching frogs and turtles to converting a suburban acre of lawn into wildlife habitat. Since retiring, she has turned from technical writing to the subjects close to her heart. She lives with her husband in northeastern Illinois, where she serves on her community’s environmental advisory commission. Her work has appeared in Seeding the Snow and will appear in an upcoming issue of Snowy Egret.

Erin Tuttle has a B.A. in English from Hope College, is finishing a graduate degree in theology from Regent College, and is working on a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum. Erin enjoys digging in the dirt, driving ramshackle vehicles, and spending time in her backyard with her three hens. Someday, maybe she’ll compile a book of all her odd stories, but until then, you can find her among the big bluestem and silphium of Schulenburg Prairie, or wandering through the woods with her eyes fixed in the trees. Just don’t trip her when she’s in this state.