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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Jane Stern

A Pine Bluff bird-watcher became a leader in efforts to preserve Arkansas’s waterways.

Jane Ellenbogen was born in Little Rock in 1918. After marrying Dr. Howard Stern in 1940, the couple moved to Pine Bluff. She became interested in bird-watching after her son hung a feeder at their home for a Boy Scout project.

After discovering many native habitats were disappearing, she became an avid conservationist. Her efforts led to the virgin Konecny Prairie and Grove becoming Arkansas’s first conservation easement in 1976. She also played a key role in stopping Corps of Engineers efforts to dam the Saline River, channel Bayous Meto and Bartholomew, and tame the Cache River and Bayou DeView.

In 1980, she started the Clean Lakes Study for Lake Pine Bluff. She discovered a new plant species, a shrub that later named Stern’s medlar. Her efforts led to several awards, including Conservationist of the Year from the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.

Jane Stern died in 1989. You can read her full Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry at

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.