What is a legacy?

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There’s a lyric in Hamilton, the musical: “Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

If I could “time travel,” I would share with Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt, two prominent founders of the League of Women Voters (LWV) 100 years ago, a glimpse of their legacy right here in Jo Daviess County.

Addams, considered the “spiritual mother of the LWV,” was born and raised just 47 miles from Galena and graduated from what is now Rockford University in 1881.

Chapman Catt, considered the LWV’s true organizational founder, entered Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State) in Ames, Iowa, in 1877, and completed a bachelor’s degree in general science in 1880. She was the only woman in her graduating class. Both women believed in and promoted education, science, citizens assuming social responsibilities in their own communities, and developing common understanding and cooperation to shape effective responses to the problems of the day.

I think that they would both be heartened by the collaborative process and effective results of what’s been accomplished here in Jo Daviess County during our recent years of “water” work by the LWV.

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Our work continues, of course, and has informed our conclusion that local understanding of the unique features of our hydrogeology and water resources helps to identify the various actions we take to preserve and conserve our water resources for ourselves and those downstream.

Through the collaboration of one our younger citizens, Padgham Larson, and one of our oldest ones, John Cooke, one more “seed” in the legacy of science education and common understanding has been planted: a wonderful book entitled, “Water in Jo Daviess County.”

Padgham interned with the LWV-Jo Daviess County in the summer of 2019. Her employment, sponsored by John, absorbed the League’s water work including water sampling on the Galena River, spring sampling throughout the county, working with the Galena-area farmer-led group and the watershed planning committee and more.

But Padgham’s primary task was to create the book that John envisioned for young people. The book was designed for Galena second graders to introduce concepts found in the Galena River Watershed Plan that had been completed in the fall of 2018. She then expanded her scope of work to include lesson plans for fifth grade science students on the same topic. This project served as Padgham’s senior capstone project for her environmental studies degree at North Central College. Her lesson plan was used successfully last fall, and the LWV-Jo Daviess County plans to print her book for student use.

Thank you, Padgham, John, and the many citizens who have worked with our local LWV these recent years to preserve and protect our precious water.

I think Jane and Carrie would be pleased to see how we’ve nurtured and tended their legacy.

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