By Jessica Wettig
Retired wildlife biologist Steve Widowski, Vienna, will be inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame. He is one of five people in Illinois to be chosen this year.
Widowski retired from U.S. Forest Service in 2009. He now works part time as a special projects coordinator for the HeartLands Conservancy.
He has been involved in the development, restoration and management of much of the critical wildlife habitat in the Shawnee National Forest. This includes the Big Muddy Bottomlands, the Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir.
Widowksi also coordinated a partnership that involved the Forest Service, the HeartLands Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation partners to acquire high priority sites in the Mississippi River floodplain and to restore thousands of acres of wetland and bottomland forest habitat across Southern Illinois.
Widowski is from Chicago originally, and he attended University of Illinois Chicago for his degree in wildlife biology. He attended graduate school at SIU for his degrees in zoology and wildlife management.
Widowski spent ten years working in Lake Tahoe for the U.S. Forest Service before he decided to return to Southern Illinois. He has lived at Vienna for 31 years.
He said he enjoyed his time working on the Shawnee National Forest when he attended SIU.
“I really enjoyed coming back,” he said.
Widowski credits his colleagues and the people as a whole who work on the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and many other organizations he has worked with for his love of the job, and his success.
“I had a great job that I loved to do,” he said. “I loved coming to work every day.”
He said he was surprised when he found out about his induction.
“I’m humbled,” Widowski said. “It’s a very nice honor.”
Widowski was honored on Saturday at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Another ceremony will be conducted on Sept. 21 at Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Gala in Springfield.