October 4, 2012
Distinguished Professor of Biology, Emeritus, Richard Bjorklund not only served the Biology Department (1957-1991) as a faculty member for 34 years, he has continued to serve the Department since his retirement in several different manners. In his retirement, Dr. Bjorklund has established a nature preserve near Manito, Illinois and with the help of his son and monies from the state, he is helping to restore a hickory-oak savanna and sand prairie in the approximately 40 acre nature preserve. Dr. Bjorklund has hosted different class field trips from Bradley, including classes from Conservation Biology (Drs. Frase and Gehring) and Flowering Plants (Dr. Gehring). The property has also hosted several past and ongoing research projects, including research directed by Dr. Gehring monitoring a plant species called the birdfoot violet (Viola pedata). A threatened butterfly species, the Regal fritillary butterfly, has been observed on the property. In the summer of 2011, Jade Metzler, a junior biology major, caught three frogs that were identified as Northern green frogs (Rana clamitans subsp. melanota). This frog was believed to have been extirpated from Mason county, possibly having been outcompeted by the common bullfrog.
Upon his retirement in 1991, Dr. Bjorklund donated $6,000 to support student research which in 1997 became Bjorklund Endowment, a fund that has been used by the Department to support undergraduate research. Alumni and friends have donated to grow the Endowment to a substantial amount and the interest gained from the account supports undergraduate research projects .