Hagie Award Winner 2004: Larry Cuddeback
Larry Cuddeback moved back to rural Iowa in 1980 to practice the kind of sustainable farming that he says is "mapped in the marrow of my bones." Twenty-four years later, his love of the land and diverse conservation practices on his farm near Brighton earned him statewide recognition.
Cuddeback, 54, is this year's winner of the Hagie Heritage Award. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) presents the Hagie award annually to a person who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of Iowa's resources and encourages others to do the same. The award was named after Lawrence and Eula Hagie and endowed by their daughters (Jan Shindel and Ila Jeanne Logan) to memorialize their parents' commitment to environmental protection.
Cuddeback was nominated for the award by Caryl Leopold Smith, assistant commissioner of the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Steven P. Anderson, executive director of the Washington County Conservation Board.
Dubbed by these nominators as a "true resource manager," Cuddeback has integrated ponds, wetlands, prairies and forests on his land, alongside crops and improved pasture. The family is active in both wildlife habitat restoration and prairie restoration. Locally, Cuddebacks are also known for Christmas trees at their Morning Star Christmas Tree Farm. They plant 1,000 trees annually and have 30,000 trees overall.
"We are experiencing the most exciting and promising times in conservation history since Theodore Roosevelt," said Cuddeback. "Farmers have always considered themselves good stewards of the land. Many are now demonstrating that fact in ways unimaginable 20 years ago."
In the late 1980s, the Cuddebacks participated in Resourceful Farming Demonstrations, an INHF project that highlighted farmers in every Iowa county who reduced tillage or chemical inputs.
INHF President Mark Ackelson presented the award to Cuddeback in August. "Larry and his family are some of the finest examples of conservationists in Iowa," Ackelson noted. "They have dedicated themselves to not only practicing a strong conservation ethic on their own land but also taking time to share and educate others. These are exactly the type of conservation leaders that our Hagie Heritage Award is meant to recognize each year."
Other 2004 Hagie award nominees included Allen Kadolph, Hubbard; Orville O'Connell, Fort Dodge; and Miriam Patton, Hartley.