2014 Awards Ceremony and Dinner
On October 9, 120 people came to the Arboretum Visitor Center to honor this year's Leopold Restoration Award recipients. Linda Bochert, FOA Board president emeritus, served as the evening's master of ceremonies. During the program, she acknowledged the participation of the program's financial supporters, the contributions of the Leopold judges' team, and the assistance of the many volunteers who work hard to create this important event.
The judges were pleased to present the following four awards to honor the work being done by people committed to the restoration of Wisconsin's natural heritage.
The first award presented at the event was the Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration for the establishment of the Eagle Nature Trail. The community of Eagle, Wisconsin came together to use vacant land linking Eagle Elementary School to the Alice Baker Memorial Public Library to make a walking trail connecting them so students would not need to use a roadway with no sidewalk to get from point A to point B. This community-based project involved volunteers, students, local organizations and adults in the creation and maintenance of a trail that features a restored prairie, woodland and pond. An important part of the trail's mission is to educate the public about native plants, prairie ecosystems, pond habitat, native woodlands and controlling invasive species. Trail coordinators offer expert-led tours, plant identification workshops, and a variety of projects.
The second award given this year, also a Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration, was presented to Swamplovers Foundation. In 1986, a group of men from the Cross Plains area purchased land for hunting and for teaching youth about hunting. After they began clearing brush, they found dormant native wildflowers and made a commitment to restoring the land's former ecosystems which included prairie, oak savanna, oak openings, wetlands and wet prairies. In 1987 they formed Swamplovers Foundation, and restoration efforts have continued and expanded since that time. Currently, they have 460 acres undergoing restoration and research with amazing biodiversity -- more than 1,269 species have been documented, including at least 98 that are extremely rare or of conservation priority.
The third award this year, the Henry Greene Award for Innovative Approaches in Restoration was presented to Penny and Gary Shackelford, Constance Brouillette and John Van Altena, neighbors living in northern Rock County. Their properties provide critical habitat for the federally threatened and state-endangered eastern prairie white fringed orchid. Since 1997, they have marked and monitored individual plants to learn more about the plant's life history, and they have conducted research to learn the best land management practices to enhance the conditions that benefit this plant. The direct result of their work and research has shown that eastern prairie white fringed orchid numbers could be increased with a multi-pronged management approach. John Van Altena also developed the idea of moving individual plants to suitable habitat to establish new populations, and he has proven this practice to be successful.
The final award, the John T. Curtis Award for Career Excellence in Ecological Restoration, was presented to Thomas Wise. Tom has been implementing prescribed fires for The Nature Conservancy for three decades, and during that time he has significantly influenced and educated others about the important role of fire in ecological restoration. He has led more than 400 burns on property owned by The Nature Conservancy, The Prairie Enthusiasts, Ice Age Trail and Dane County. Through his experiences and observations, he developed important concepts that inform today's prescribed fire regimes. He established that in addition to prairies, wetlands, oak woodlands, and barrens also were dependent on fire; and that fire should be used repeatedly and purposefully over many years to generate the desired results.
A silent auction was also part of this festive evening, with the highest bidders going home with items donated by local businesses, artists, and individuals. We look forward to celebrating next year’s Leopold Restoration Award winners at the Arboretum Visitor Center on October 8, 2015. We hope you will join us for this important event!
The Leopold Restoration Awards program is a large and complex endeavor that could not take place without the support and hard work of many talented volunteers who freely share their time and talents. Many thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their support:
- Barb Anderson
- Peter Anderson
- Bill Arthur
- Linda Bochert
- Pat Brown
- Matt Carlson
- Susan Carpenter
- Tim Eisele
- Mary Flynn
- Susan Kilmer
- Judy Kingsbury
- Terri Lefebvre
- Nancy Mead
- Darcy Kind, chair
- Dr. Tom Blewett
- Dr. Evelyn Howell
- Ted Koehler
- Steve Swenson
Affiliated Construction Services, Inc.
American Family Insurance
Michael Best and Friedrich, LLP