Hagie Award Winner 2003: Patrick Hayes

Posted on September 23, 2003 in Blog

Patrick Hayes, the 2003 Hagie Heritage Award winner.Patrick Hayes' dedication to preserving Iowa's natural heritage, whether on his land or other's property, as well as his inexhaustible efforts to learn and teach about the environment, earned him this year's Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award. It is one of the largest conservation awards in the state of Iowa.

Hayes was nominated by Robert Walton, Executive Director of Dubuque County Conservation Board (DCCB), Brian Preston, secretary of Dubuque County Conservation Society (DCCS) and Chris Frommelt, a Trees for Dubuque and DCCS member.

"Pat doesn't seek recognition for any of his [conservation] efforts," Preston said. "He tries to stay behind the scenes, and I think that says a lot about him."

The Hagie Heritage Award is given annually by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and recognizes Iowans who devote outstanding personal service and commitment to improving the quality of Iowa's natural environment. As this year's winner, Hayes will receive a hand-carved acorn sculpture donated by Dennis and Linda Schlicht of Center Point, IA and $1,000.

INHF is a non-profit, member-supported organization that preserves, protects and enhances Iowa's natural resources "for those who follow." Past INHF projects in Dubuque County include the Epworth City Park, the Mines of Spain, the Heritage Trail and numerous other conservation efforts.

"INHF and the Hagie daughters created this award to recognize people like Pat, unsung heroes who protect this state's natural resources by personal example," said Mark Ackelson, president of INHF. "The selection committee was especially impressed by Pat's wide range of conservation contributions-planting trees, building birdhouses, protecting a fen and more."

Hayes works as the building services manager for Alverno Apartments, a retirement and life-care facility. To make the apartments more environmentally friendly, Hayes added native plants and developed a recycling program for the apartment complex years before Dubuque started its city-wide program. He also helped apartment residents create a composting program to further reduce landfill waste.

Off the job, Hayes has planted several hundred trees each year for the past 10-15 years through his work with the DCCS and Trees Forever.

"[Hayes] spends countless hours planting native species of trees and shrubs on his own property and gives generously of his time and expertise in helping friends and neighbors do the same," said Frommelt.

In the spring of 2002, Hayes purchased 17 acres of wetlands, fen sedge meadow and prairie. He has worked with Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologist, Mark Loeshke, to make a reconstruction and management plan for this diverse site. In the year Hayes has owned the land, he has planted at least 25 different kinds of trees, bringing the total number of trees on the property to around 850. He's also introduced around a half a dozen plants and plans on adding a "couple dozen" native plants within the next year, using the award money to purchase prairie plant seed.

"In nature there always seems to be a diversity [of plants and trees]," Hayes said. "I'd like to have a big diversity so they can sort themselves out."

Hayes' efforts in conservation extend far beyond his green thumb. In his spare time, Hayes has volunteered to make over 100 pre-cut birdhouses for various 4-H groups. He has made precut wren and bluebird houses for the DCCB's bluebird workshop for the past seven years along with numerous kestrel and wood duck houses. Hayes also dedicated his birdhouse-building skills to work with at-risk youth at the Four Mounds Foundation in Dubuque.

"Pat has literally placed hundreds of [bluebird and kestrel] birdhouses throughout the county," Preston said.

Hayes' interest in gaining knowledge about the environment is never ending-and contagious. He frequently attends environmental educational conferences and workshops that deal with the natural world. Through attending these programs, he has become a Master Woodland Manager and a Master Woodland Conservationist.
Whether he's giving public presentations on stewardship and protection of natural resources, or enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Deb, and two daughters, Jen and Sara, Hayes is constantly sharing his knowledge about Iowa's natural heritage.

Hayes has given his expertise and time to many Dubuque-area organizations including DCCS, DCCB, Trees for Dubuque and the Freeway Corridor Committee for Dubuque. He as also served as a delegate from Dubuque County to the Iowa REAP Congress and has actively supported REAP at the local level and at regional assemblies.

"We're here for such a short time, but hopefully I can leave a mark after I'm gone," Hayes said. "I can make a difference, even if its only for some sedgewrens or butterflies."

Hayes was among seven Iowans nominated for the 2003 Hagie Heritage Award. Other nominees included Kathy Dice of Wapello, Loren Hamilton of Independence, Dan Harskamp of Orange City, Roger Heidt of Robins, Diana Horton of Iowa City and Thomas Neenan of Center Point.

The Hagie Heritage Award was established by Jan Hagie Shindel, formerly of DeWitt, IA, and Ila Jeanne Hagie Logan of Moville, IA, in honor of their parents, Lawrence and Eula Hagie. This is the fourteenth year that INHF has presented the award.