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Program 1217

1. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
2. ceramic artist Wayne Ferguson
3. painter and writer Marilynn Pfanstiel
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Franklin County

For more information:
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, 801 Schenkel Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 573-2886

Producer, videographer, audio, editor: Brandon Wickey

Happy 30th

The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission

To start this edition, Kentucky Life celebrates one of its oldest friends. Ever since the series debuted in 1995, we’ve been taking frequent jaunts to visit the special places protected by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. So it was only appropriate that we pause to salute the commission on the occasion of its 30th birthday in 2006.

Established by act of the General Assembly in 1976, the Nature Preserves Commission works to preserve Kentucky’s biodiversity by identifying and protecting natural areas that harbor rare species, biological communities, ecosystems, and/or geological structures that are in danger of being lost if nothing is done to safeguard them. Sometimes land is donated to or purchased by the state. In other cases, the owner retains title to the land but signs an agreement not to develop it.

The first area to be officially protected as a state nature preserve was Blackacre, a 179-acre natural enclave in the Greater Louisville area, near Jeffersontown. By the time of the 30th-anniversary celebration, the state nature preserves system encompassed more than 21,000 acres, from old-growth forest on Pine Mountain to wetlands along the Mississippi Flyway in far Western Kentucky.

Once an area has been added to the preserve system, the task of managing it begins. The job often starts with restoration work to rid the land of invasive species, re-introduce native ones, and fix problems caused by prior mismanagement. For instance, a past policy of suppressing all fires may have allowed fast-growing invaders to crowd out native plants. These days, fire is sometimes prescribed as just the medicine a piece of land needs to restore its historic balance of open and forested areas.

After they’re restored and stabilized, some preserves are opened to the public for hiking, birdwatching, and photography. Access to others must be strictly controlled because of the fragility of the habitats or the rarity of the species they contain.

When not out in the field, the commission’s 22 biologists, researchers, and support staffers (up from the original three) also maintain a detailed database of Kentucky’s natural diversity. By tracking where rare plants and animals live and where exemplary natural communities are found, the database helps other state and local agencies make decisions about development.

Our salute to the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and its work features scenery from several of the preserves we’ve visited over the years. You can read more about many of these extraordinary sites in the pages accompanying the Kentucky’s Last Great Places special. And check the Places: Nature section of the Programs by Topic listing for more preserves we’ve toured.

Jefferson County

For more information:
• Several examples of Wayne’s art are in the permanent collection of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, (502) 589-0102.
• Wayne and fellow artist Brian Newton offer private lessons at a studio in Crestwood; call (502) 243-6886.

Producer: Jayne McClew
Videographer/editor: Warren Mace

Art with a Purpose

Ceramic artist Wayne Ferguson

Louisville ceramic artist Wayne Ferguson can tell you a thing or two about overcoming adversity. In 2004, a car accident left him blind in one eye—a potentially devastating injury for a man who made his living as a visual artist. He was also without health insurance and facing huge medical bills.

But the local artistic community showed their respect for Wayne, a dedicated teacher as well as a talented ceramist, by rallying around with fund-raising efforts. A December 2004 auction of donated pieces helped pay for his treatment, and Wayne set about the business of overcoming his injury, taking it as just another artistic challenge.

Wayne started working in clay as a child, with his raw material homemade by his mother. Her aim at the time was mostly to keep her restless son occupied and out of trouble. Later, during a somewhat troubled adolescence, Wayne was reintroduced to the power of the arts to communicate and to heal by another caring adult, this time a high school teacher. So after military service, he plunged back into ceramic work as a career.

Ferguson’s work is not what you might first think of when you think of ceramics. It often involves human or animal figures, and usually has a point to make about social issues. But the message is made more accessible with bright, appealing colors, whimsical expressions, and the infusion of the artist’s own irrepressible sense of humor.

At the time he decided to be an artist, Wayne also resolved to help other young people as he had been helped. He has been a dedicated teacher of in-school workshops for more than 20 years, introducing kids across Kentucky and college students in several other states to ceramic art as a form of personal expression. In March of 2006, those efforts were honored with the 11th annual Rude Osolnik Award. Given by the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and named for the legendary Berea woodturner, the award honors contributions to the craft community, preservation of craft traditions through teaching, and exemplary workmanship.

Edmonson County

For more information:
Mammoth Cave National Park, (270) 758-2180

On Location

Dave hosts this edition from Mammoth Cave National Park. The photo filler he introduces features photographs of the cave and the forested land above it by Raymond Klass, who was profiled in Kentucky Life Program 1015.

Bourbon County

Producer, videographer: Dave Shuffett


Artist and writer Marilyn Pfanstiel

In our final segment, host Dave Shuffett returns to the theme of overcoming adversity as he meets a Bourbon County woman who has made it her mission to help people defeat the obstacles in their own lives by sharing the inspiring stories of others who have done the same.

Marilyn Dixon Pfanstiel spent much of her childhood indoors as the result of debilitating seasonal allergies. As an adult, she developed chronic back and foot pain that eventually became nearly unbearable. But she used her confinement as a child to teach herself to draw and paint, becoming an accomplished watercolorist. And when a combination of yoga and massage therapy finally gave her some relief from pain, she decided—at 53—to start a new career as a massage therapist and help others in her condition.

In 2001, Marilyn attended a workshop for women on “emerging courageous” in Hawaii. The stories she heard there about other participants’ personal triumphs over fear and adversity, along with a solo hike she completed despite self-doubt and her own lingering physical problems, convinced her that she had to find a way to spread those stories more widely. She started a web site called Emerging Courageous, inviting Internet users to submit their own or others’ stories and poems. In 2004, she published 35 of the most inspiring in a book called Women Emerging Courageous. At the time of our visit, she was thinking about an equal-time sequel spotlighting courageous men.

Watch This Story (3:50)

SEASON 12 PROGRAMS: 120112021203120412051206120712081209121012111212
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