Hagie Award Winners 2001: Pat McAdams and Glenda Buenger

Posted on September 23, 2001 in Blog

Pat McAdams and Glenda Buenger of Rose Hill have been selected as the co-winners of this year's Hagie Heritage Award, one of the largest conservation awards in the state.

The award is presented annually by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and recognizes Iowans who have demonstrated an outstanding volunteer commitment to conservation and improvement of the natural environment. McAdams and Buenger are being recognized for their activism in saving the Eddyville Dunes and their years of conservation dedication and volunteerism.

As the Hagie Heritage Award co-winners, the couple will receive a hand-carved acorn sculpture donated by Dennis and Linda Schlict of Center Point and $1,000.

"Pat and Glenda are excellent choices for the Hagie Award," Mark Ackelson, INHF president said. "Their work is a constant reminder of how two individuals have an enormous impact on the land. They have given endless hours protecting and restoring Iowa's ecosystems."

What started as a family tradition with their two children Ben, 13, and Neo, 15, turned into an act of activism. Ben invented the term "prairie-scoping" to refer to family field trips investigating the contents of road ditches and prairie patches. "We just grabbed the Peterson Guide and if we saw a white flower we didn't know, we looked up pictures of white flowers until we found it," Glenda said.

Years later in 1996, armed with prairie-scoping experience and botany knowledge, they stumbled across a wet prairie remnant that contained state-listed species including the threatened ornate box turtle and the endangered pale-green orchid. This hidden ecosystem was discovered in the Eddyville Dunes, an area formed thousands of years ago by wind-deposited sand.

Intrigued, the couple inquired about the area and discovered the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) planned to build a highway bypass through the prairie. Thinking the unique area should be protected, Pat and Glenda worked long hours to gain grassroots support and the backing of several government agencies. They were able to successfully persuade the IDOT to re-locate the by-pass to avoid the best part of the habitat.

"We both decided when we get old, we want to say that we did everything we could do," Pat and Glenda said. "Eddyville is ongoing: the real work is just starting."

McAdams and Buenger have always been inquisitive about plants and nature. "It's hard to tell where academia stops and conservation begins," said McAdams, an assistant professor of Earth science at William Penn University in Oskaloosa where they both teach. Buenger, who teaches art part-time, also manages a native prairie seed business and has donated large quantities of seed to county, state, and federal restoration projects. She is an active member of Iowa Prairie Network. Pat is involved with Keokuk and Mahaska County and youth environmental education field days and assists with an Eagle Badge in Geology for a local Boy Scout chapter. Both have donated countless hours to the Mahaska County Conservation Board.

McAdams and Buenger were selected from a field of eight Iowans nominated for this year's award. The selection committee noted that this year's task was unusually difficult not only because of the outstanding accomplishments by each nominee, but also the difference of the nature of activities between the candidates. One committee member said, "It's exciting to see how a small band of people can influence the land in a variety of ways." Another committee member said, "The nominees showed determination, courage and tenacity."

Pat and Glenda were nominated by Jane Clark, activist and volunteer in Des Moines; Loren Lown of Pleasant Hill, natural resource specialist with Polk County Conservation Board, and Robert Sayre, resident of Iowa City, and author of "Take The Next Exit: New Views of the Iowa Landscape."

Clark said McAdams and Buenger's efforts are inspirational. "Pat and Glenda have won the respect of both the conservation community and outside specialists, while raising the consciousness of thousands of Iowans, who otherwise would never have known of this fascinating area of prairie, sand dunes, and wetlands," Clark said.

This is the twelfth year that INHF has presented the Hagie Heritage Award. It was established by Jan Shindel of DeWitt and Ila Jeanne Logan of Moville, Iowa, in honor of their parents, Lawrence and Eula Hagie.

Other 2001 nominees for the Hagie Heritage Award include Robert Cerven, Kamyar Enshayan, Leonard and Mildred Grimes, Paul Harker, Robert Haug, George and Alyce Lowe, and Mark Ogden.