Today, September 9th would have been Lorrie Otto’s 100th birthday. Lorrie Otto — Queen of the Prairie. Lorrie Otto — the inspiration for Wild Ones.
Lorraine “Lorrie” Stoeber was born in 1919 near Madison, Wisconsin. She lived on a farm where she learned to love the soil and the biodiversity of the landscape. As a young woman who was tall and smart, she got involved in many things from modeling evening gowns for wholesale houses to preparing to be a pilot in the World War II Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and married her 6’4″ boyfriend Owen Otto, son of Max Otto who was a pioneer of contemporary humanism. They moved to a north Milwaukee suburb near Lake Michigan and a twenty-acre ravine called Prairie Chasm. In the 1950s when the chasm was to be sold for development, Lorrie worked with The Nature Conservancy to save the ravine.
Lorrie became the heart and soul of the natural landscaping movement and many of us remember her each year by donating to the Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program administered by Wild Ones.
LORRIE OTTO SEEDS FOR EDUCATION PROGRAM
In 1996, Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Ltd honored Lorrie with a celebration and a program in her name – The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program. Such an honor was so fitting. Because of all her efforts to save the natural landscape, her desire to save it for the children was the greatest.
As part of that education program, grants are offered each year to non-profit organizations planning to develop an outdoor learning area. Grant applications for the Seeds For Education Grant Program are due October 15th of each year.
Let’s make this year special when remembering the 100th anniversary of Lorrie’s birthday.