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First Person Narrative
Chuck Roth lives in Chesterton, Ind. and owns Chesterton Feed and Garden Center.
I have lived here for almost all of my life; my parents moved here from Chicago in 1959. They fell in love with this area and the Indiana Dunes.
When I was 13 I got a job at Chesterton Feed and Garden Center. My family always had horses, poultry, dogs, cats – we would buy our feed at the Feed Store. I worked there for seven years, through high school and college. When I was in college, my dad and I talked to the owner about purchasing the store, and that’s what we did.
Things were changing in the garden center world at that time. When we took over we grew that part of the store. The business has grown so much; we sit on an acre-and-a-quarter and now we’re using all of that space and are bursting at the seams.
I’ve done a lot of work in the community as well. I’ve been a longtime member of the Friends of the Indiana Dunes, and am a past president and vice president of the organization. I’ve also been an active supporter of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust. They preserve lands and special areas. It’s a good match for our region. They recently acquired a beautiful wetland floodplain of the Little Calumet River that adjoins where I live.
There are also companies in the area who are making a difference in our work to preserve the environment. We couldn’t do everything we’re doing without their support.
My family and I can walk into the backyard and there are acres of wilderness. My back door is my playground. One of the important things for me is that being out in nature is very grounding for me. When things get frustrating or stressful at work, I go out for an hour and it kind of melts away. Being immersed in the world of nature and plants and birds just fascinates me and makes me go to another place where I can forget everything else.
This is a special area. Migratory birds come down to this area, and it’s incredible to watch. Sometimes I meet people who haven’t been here, and they ask me what they should do. I tell them to go to the Dunes and don’t just go to the beach, but get out on a trail and enjoy what surrounds you on these special properties.