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SPEAKERS FOR THHE 2022 SEASON

Robert Parrish

7 p.m., Thurs., July 21

The vice chairman of the Cass County Department of Parks and Recreation and the driving force behind Dr. Lawless Park’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park and Michigan Dark Sky Reserve, will speak on July 21.

Robert Parrish’s work on the international park designation, only the second in Michigan, is a result of years of diligence and research, and an interest in astronomy from the time he was a child. Parrish’s father, Andrew Parrish, who served in the U.S. Navy, and the Space Race of the 1960s, were the major influences in his interest in the skies.

Parrish is a member of the Michiana Astronomical Society and the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, as well as a delegate to the International Dark Sky Association.

Parrish received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Organizational Communication from Western Michigan University. A graduate of Cassopolis High School, he and his wife, Rita, live in Edwardsburg.

Chris Rosselit

7 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 18

A first-generation farmer and Edwardsburg area native who gradually built a farm leasing business while working full time in transportation will speak on August 18.

Chris Rosselit, a 1973 Edwardsburg High School graduate, who started farming in 1968 and then rented a farm to get started part-time, worked for the Cass County Road Commission and then milked cows at the Harold Tolbert Farm as he contemplated expanding his knowledge in agriculture.

Rosselit spent the majority of his career with the Michigan Department of Transportation, working in maintenance out of the Niles office and farming part-time up until his retirement.

He will discuss the changes in farming equipment and farming practices, including differences between conventional tillage and no-till farming, and the increased costs in agriculture. He also has been interested in environmental practices since the late 1980s, and regularly does soil testing, adding microbes to fertilizer to increase biological life.

Cindy Yawkey

7 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 15

Cindy Yawkey grew up in Vandalia and volunteers for the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County. As co-chair of the James E. and Sarah Bogue House at Penn Road and M-60, she leads tours of the Bonine House and the Bonine Carriage House. She is acquainted with many descendants of pioneer Black families that settled in the area, particularly in Calvin Township. 

Yawkey’s presentation will be on the 1847 Kentucky Slave Raid in Cass County.

An award-winning author, artist and illustrator recognized by the Michigan Historical Society, National Parks Service, and Michigan Humanities Council, Yawkey is the author of “They Have My Shoes, I have My Freedom,” and “Out of Bondage—Perry Sanford’s Account.” Her booklet on the Kentucky Raid is described as a “faithful rendition of this infamous incident.”

Steve Arseneau

7 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 20

The Orphan Train will be the subject of a power point presentation by Steve Arseneau, director of the Dowagiac Area History Museum.

Homeless, orphaned children were sent to Dowagiac in 1853 on what became known as the Orphan Train. Dowagiac’s local museum has made this project a focal point in its work and displays. Over 75 years, more than 250,000 children eventually were sent from New York to the Western United States for adoption by families, and Arseneau will discuss the history first orphan train and the legacy of the movement.

With both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Wisconsin, Arseneau joined the Southwestern Michigan College Museum in 1998, and later became its director. When the museum was moved to Dowagiac in 2012, he was in charge of the transition, helping to design the museum building, and implementing the move, including the design, planning, and installation of exhibits. His extensive skills list includes not only general administration, but also community outreach, fundraising, events planning, and writing.