Pietro Di Lorenzo was a nature lover. In March, the son of Marine residents Gene and Loralee Di Lorenzo died unexpectedly at 26 years old. To recognize his love of the St Croix River, the Di Lorenzo family created a fund for his memorials, the Pietro Hanka Di Lorenzo St. Croix River Conservancy Fund.
Shortly before the fund was created, William O’Brien State Park had let the Scandia Marine Lions know they were open to donations to the children’s area of the Visitor’s Center. Loralee Di Lorenzo is a Lion and the club wanted to do something in Pietro’s honor, so revamping the children’s area became a happy coincidence of efforts to bring Pietro’s fund to the park through the Lions.
Pietro Hanka Di Lorenzo’s memorial fund purchased nature-themed games, books and toys. The Lion’s club assembled the gifts and a group of Lions and Pietro’s family and friends installed them at William O’Brien on May 24, 2019.
“Pietro enjoyed the visitor center every week in the winter when we cross-country skied,” said Loralee. “He was an avid naturalist as a child and maintained his love of the outdoors through fishing and boating as an adult. He filmed nature in his career as a videographer and had recently obtained an FAA drone license to enhance his work. We are pleased to support children’s love and exploration of nature in this beautiful park along the St Croix River. Please visit, learn and enjoy.”
Further gifts were spurred by this event, to be coordinated by Sean Hoppes, interim park naturalist. Hoppes expressed gratitude on behalf of the park.
“We are delighted to have these interactive items donated in memory of Pietro,” he said. “About 65,000 park visitors use the Visitor Center each year, and many will have a deeper park experience because of this generous gesture. Kids will read nature stories in a play tent surrounded by a simulated camping experience, and older children and adults will look up plants, fungi, insects and critters they saw in the new guidebooks. There are nature games for families to play on hot and rainy days to learn about the wildlife we share the park with. To all who read this, we invite you to experience your local park and the improvements made in memory of Pietro.”
Mary Fernstrum, a Marine resident who cross-country skis in the park but rarely visits in summer, was impressed with the collection.
“Because of my winter existence at O’Brien, I did not know about this room which will welcome children campers on rainy or too hot summer days to be in air conditioning identifying butterflies, birds, or skunks, raccoons, and river otters,” she said. “Thanks to this donation, many will think lovingly of Pietro for years to come.”
Readers interested in donating to the Pietro Hanka Di Lorenzo St Croix River Conservancy Fund can do so at https://www.scvfoundation.org/donate. Select Conservation Funds A-R, which will take you to Paypal. Select Pietro’s fund as listed in the drop down menu for “use this donation for.”
Or, mail a check to the St Croix Valley Foundation with his name in the memo:
St. Croix Valley Foundation
516 Second Street (suite 214)
Hudson, WI 54016