Kaskaskia College is blessed with a large number of alumni who are willing and eager to give something back to the College where they got their start. These gifts often come in the form of generous monetary contributions and scholarships, and are greatly appreciated by the College family. But every so often, a KC grad is able to give the gift of his or her time and expertise. Kent Boyles, District Wildlife Biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is one such graduate.
Kent Boyles is a 1980 graduate of Salem Community High School and subsequently attended Kaskaskia College from 1980-1982, graduating with an Associate degree in Science. During that timeframe, Kent was a State and National 4-H Award winner in Forestry (1981). He worked during the summers of 1980-1985 as a conservation technician for the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District.
After graduating from Kaskaskia College, he transferred to Eastern Illinois University, graduating in 1984 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Botany and Environmental Biology and minors in Zoology and Chemistry. During his undergraduate work at EIU, he was awarded the HF Thut Academic scholarship in Botany, a Soil Conservation Society of America scholarship and a second National 4-H Scholarship in Agriculture. He enrolled in Graduate School at EIU during the Fall of 1984 and attained a Master of Science degree in Botany in 1985.
After a short tenure with the USDA office in 1985 and 1986, Kent began working for the Illinois Department of Conservation in Springfield in late 1986. Kent worked with the Watershed Management Planning Program, subsequently transferred to a field position in 1988 with the Division of Wildlife Resources. After multiple geographic transfers, Kent returned to Salem in 1994, where he now resides and works as a District Wildlife Biologist with the now Illinois Department of Natural Resources at Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in Montgomery County. His geographic district encompasses six counties, which formerly included Clinton County.
The “formerly included Clinton County” part is important, because Kent’s territory no longer includes the College’s main campus. Yet, when he was contacted and asked if he could give some guidance on habitat projects on campus, Kent never hesitated or asked that the biologist with this district be contacted instead. With the continuing belt-tightening at State positions, Kent is busier than ever with his area of responsibility, yet he volunteered to come to campus and give some project ideas on his own time.
Nor did he simply tour the campus, give a few suggestions, and call it a day. After his campus visit, Kent has prepared a detailed report on meaningful improvements that can be made to the wildlife habitat on campus, and with his extensive knowledge of botany, his recommendations took in the care of KC’s woodland and green spaces as well as improvements for wildlife. In addition, Kent sent along some helpful brochures to enhance the improvement efforts, offered guidance when applying for grant funding, and promised to come back to personally help in the volunteer efforts to get projects completed.
When he was asked why he would go so far out of his way to help, Kent said “KC gave me my start in the education and career path I chose. I am honored to be in a position to give back to the school that has meant so much to me.”
Kent has not limited his contributions to the College to the current projects, either. Since returning back to Salem in 1994, Kent taught a night class for 4 semesters at the Salem Extension Center for the College, instructing Biology, Society and Environment. He has also volunteered for several years as a tutor with the Reading Link Program through the College.
When first approached with the idea of this article, Kent deferred, saying that he was not a “distinguished alumnus,” and that there are more deserving KC graduates to celebrate. But given his distinguished career, his obvious humility, and his willingness to give of his expertise and his most precious commodity, his time, it is hard to think of a more deserving KC graduate then Kent Boyles.