"Evelyn reawakened a sense of curiosity and exploration in her students that is so essential to learning about and in the outdoor environment. Her students at all levels of education remember her humor, wit and charm and her ability to challenge people to pursue excellence."
(from Melanson Award citation, 1990)
Dr. M. Evelyn Jonescu (Melanson Award Winner, 1990)
Where did that infectious enthusiasm for the natural, prairie environment come from? Growing up on a farm near Alemeda, through a series of teaching-administrative positions in Oxbow, Cupar, Markinch and Regina, or via graduate education in Wisconsin and Saskatchewan? Evelyn Jonescu was shaped by the prairie environment and in turn has shaped it.
The struggle to teach biology at the Qu’Appelle Diocesan School in Regina without any biology background may have motivated Evelyn to do her master’s work in biology. Her studies focused on lichens and like them, Evelyn is a mutualistic person: she lichens people; people lichen her! Lichens can be classified as crustose, foliose and fruticose. Evelyn can be crusty, but most often she blossoms with ideas and inspiration or empowers others to share the fruit of their labours.
At the University of Regina, in the Faculty of Education (Science), she was instrumental in establishing the BSCS ecological approach in Saskatchewan high schools. She organized many seminars and field trips for teachers to study Saskatchewan ecology. She led by example, fostering a spirit of inquiry. For her students, this reawakened that sense of curiosity and exploration so essential to learning about and in the outdoor environment. Her students at all levels of education remember her humor, wit and charm and her ability to challenge people to pursue excellence.
Her exemplary Ph.D. work on the spoil piles of the Estevan coal strip mining area influenced the reclamation work there. While executive director at the Canadian Plains Research Center (CPRC) and director of the Saskatchewan Instructional Development and Research Unit (SIDRU) at the University of Regina, she promoted the study of the prairie environment – its people, its education, its literature and its ecology.
In 1989, a widow, she took early retirement from the university and began to indulge other interests: a lifelong passion for needlework and enthusiasm for researching and writing family histories – she has authored five hard-cover publications of such histories.
She established and edited newsletters for the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society and for the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute.
Evelyn is an enthusiastic supporter of the Lifelong Learning Centre. In addition to attending classes for most terms in past years, she has served on the Board of the Seniors’ University Group for the past two years. During that time she has been active on the Education Committee, first as co-chair and latterly as secretary. Even today, she continues to take classes at LLC.
Her most recent volunteer work has been with the Regina Senior Citizens’ Centre, a City-supported recreation centre which provides many activities to enable citizens to actively enjoy their senior years. As well as serving for the past 3 years as recording secretary for the Board of Directors, and as co-coordinator of a weekly bridge tournament, she and her partner, Thor Spagrud, enjoy dancing there (twice weekly) and
participating in provincial bridge tournaments at least once each week.
Dr. M. Evelyn Jonescu Melanson Award Citation, SOEEA, 1990
Evelyn Jonescu Biography, 2017