Author of book about Gates of the Arctic National Park to present program in Anna
Union County native Joe Wilkins is the author of a newly released book titled “Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration.”
“Gates of the Arctic National Park” is the first book written about the second largest national park in the United States.
Wilkins is scheduled to be a guest at historic St. Anne’s Church in Anna for a book event which is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26.
The church is located at 507 S. Main St., not far from Stinson Memorial Library.
Wilkins plans to give a short presentation and to answer questions about his book, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Alaska in general. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
Following the presentation, a reception is planned at Stinson Memorial Library.
Parking for both events is available at the library.
Centered in the heart of the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park is nearly the size of Switzerland and is seen as one of the premier wilderness areas in the world.
The publication of this book, following his more than a half-century of experience in the region, has established Wilkins as one of the most noted authorities on the park and the surrounding region.
Wilkins was born on a small farm several miles east of Cobden and has had a lifelong interest in Alaska.
On his 5th birthday, Wilkins received a book about Alaska from his mother. As she read and reread the book to him, Wilkins began to dream of spending time in Alaska’s wilderness.
He first entered the Brooks Range region in 1996 when, as a young U.S. Air Force officer, he received Arctic wilderness survival training in northern Alaska.
Gates of the Arctic National Park was created in 1980, almost 15 years fter Wilkins began spending extensive time in the wild, remote and rugged arctic wilderness.
Wilkins retired from the University of Illinois at Springfield as a professor emeritus in 2003.
He then began serving as a Volunteer Backcountry Patroller with the National Park Service in Gates of the Arctic National Park.
Wilkins has been married for 51 years to Jean Ellen Smith Wilkins, who is an Anna native and retired director of the Illinois State Library.
All net proceeds from the sale of Wilkins’ book will be donated to the endowed Joe Wilkins Veterans Scholarship Fund at the University of Illinois at Springfield, which has been awarding scholarships to veterans for 14 years.