Spring-Summer 2009




Orchid photo (left) by
Carol Freeman.

Prairie burn photo by
John Barrett.

Pine cone bud photo by
Mary Ramsden.

Spring/Summer 2009 - Contributing Editors and Artists

Editor and publisher

LeAnn Spencer, the founder of A Prairie Journal, is a journalist with more than thirty 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. She is a member of the editing team for the Fifth Wednesday Journal and recently, with her friend Erin Tuttle, took over the editing and publishing duties of the women’s nature journal Seeding the Snow. 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 holds a naturalist certificate from the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Il. 


John Barrett was born in Cork, Ireland, lived there for the first 30 years of his life, and attended medical school at University College Cork. In 1975, he joined Chicago’s Cook County Hospital where he worked as a trauma surgeon until retirement in 2002. He is fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and of the American College of Surgeons. In recent years, he has spent many hours as a long distance hiker – completing the Appalachian Trail, the Grand Illinois Trail, the Camino De Santiago in Spain, the Irish Coast to Coast Walk – and is currently engaged in an on-again, off-again walk from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean. His trail name, Slow Walker, reflects a measured style of hiking that allows him to savor the journey. He holds a Natural History Certificate from the Morton Arboretum; an accomplishment that has helped him better understand the natural environments through which he hikes. He believes that the last step of one journey is the first step of the next. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Oak Park, Il., and have two grown children.

Stephanie Davies is an amateur photographer who has lived in Chicago for the last eighteen years. As an entrepreneur who owns two small businesses, SD Rehab, Inc. and Urban Worm Girl, she has little time for photography on a daily basis but does find time for her camera when traveling or on retreat.  She is intrigued by the knowledge that the camera captures a single moment in time – a moment that can never be repeated. Perspective is of particular interest to Stephanie, an approach she brings to her photo shoots. The Buddha discovered that we, as humans, suffer when the mind gets fixed with one view, one perspective. Like Zen, photography helps Stephanie to see details as well as a big picture and the endless possibilities of perspective.

In 2004, photographer Carol Freeman started the Endangered Species Photography Project with the goal of photographing the nearly five hundred threatened and endangered species in Illinois. She hopes that this work will inspire people to work to save these species. She is founder of the not-for-profit Team Green Environmental Network (www.teamgreenweb.org), an environmental education organization dedicated to informing and motivating people to make everyday changes to create a greener planet. Her photographs have appeared in various publications, including National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Better Homes & Gardens, Birds & Blooms, and Chicago Wilderness Magazine where she served as art director for four years. Her photos have been used by The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Openlands Project, and Lake Forest Openlands. Carol, who is sponsored by Nikon, has a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois in graphic design with a minor in photography. Carol is happiest when she’s outside shooting pictures, investigating prairies, wetlands, and nature preserves. More details about her work can be found at her website: www.carolfreemanphotography.com.

Angela Just lives near Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Side and slakes her longing for her own garden with frequent forays on foot or bike to the city version of where the wild things are. She belongs to bird-watching and conservancy groups at North Pond and discovered the Northerly Island prairie on a recent bike ride. Angela has had work in Fifth Wednesday Journal where the editors recently awarded one of her photos their Editor’s Prize for 2008. She is a poet who has published in After Hours, Free Lunch, HerMark, Make Magazine, and Seeding the Snow.

Darsha Primich is a social worker and a sometimes writer and poet from DeKalb, Il. Her work has appeared in Seeding the Snow and in past issues of A Prairie Journal.

Barbara Rose is a writer and editor living in Oak Park, Il. Serial careers teaching, making pots, and writing for newspapers took her to New York, Arizona, and Texas before she returned to Chicago twenty years ago to work first for Crain’s Chicago Business, then for the Chicago Tribune. Sinking roots near where she grew up, she traded desert and mountain explorations for forests and prairies. When she can’t be in wilderness, she’s content in her own backyard. She’s enrolled in the botanical arts certificate program at the Morton Arboretum.

Sherry Stratton has always been drawn to nature, from lakeside summers catching frogs and turtles to converting an acre of suburban 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 Snowy Egret, Seeding the Snow, and in an earlier issue of A Prairie Journal.

Christian Ward is a London-based poet whose work has appeared in journals, including  The Kenyon Review, Rio Grande Review, and Diagram. His chapbook, Slippage, was released last year from Liverpool-based Erbacce Press.

Leonore Wilson teaches at a private university in San Francisco. Her work has been featured in Third Coast, Quarterly West, Madison Review, DMQ Review, etc.

Fredrick Zydek is the author of eight collections of poetry.  T’Kopechuck: the Buckley Poems is forthcoming from Winthrop Press later this year.  Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn’t writing.  He is the editor for Lone Willow Press. His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Cimmaron Review, The Hollins Critic, New England Review, Nimrod, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Yankee, and others. He is the recipient of the Hart Crane Poetry Award, the Sarah Foley O'Loughlen Literary Award and others.