Emma Genevieve Gillette was born in Lansing on May 19, 1898 and attended Michigan Agricultural College which became Michigan State University. The Superintendent of Parks P.J. Hoffmaster asked Gillette to scout the state for areas of land having Potential to be a state park. Beginning in 1924, she helped locate and raise public support and funding for parks at Ludington, Hartwick Pines, Wilderness, and Porcupine Mountains. Other parks included Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system, and what was to become the P. J. Hoffmaster State Park in the sand dunes area of Lake Michigan between Grand Haven and Muskegon.
She founded and was president of the Michigan Parks Association, a group that worked relentlessly lobbying the government for funding and support of the parks. The Gillette Nature Center at the Hoffmaster State Park, which was dedicated in 1976, was named in her honor.
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