Drake professor wins INHF's Hagie Heritage Award

By Joe Jayjack on October 14, 2016 in Press Center

A longtime professor at Drake University will receive a statewide award for his extensive conservation efforts, including giving 1,350 hours of his time to a project aimed at restoring prairies on private land throughout the state.

Dr. Thomas RosburgDr. Thomas Rosburg will receive the 2016 Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award given by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF).

The Hagie Heritage Award, endowed by the family of Lawrence and Eula Hagie, is given annually by INHF, a statewide conservation organization that protects and restores Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. INHF projects in Central Iowa include the High Trestle Trail, additions to Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and several others.

“Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a highly revered, successful and dedicated conservation organization. To receive one of its most prestigious awards is an honor with tremendous meaning made even more significant when you consider the impressive list of previous recipients,” Rosburg said. 

Peter Levi, an assistant professor of environmental science and policy, nominated Dr. Rosburg for his exceptional commitment to conservation in Iowa. Levi is an associate of Dr. Rosburg’s at Drake University and has witnessed his dedication to Iowa’s wild places through the eyes of his students.

One of Dr. Rosburg’s most remarkable achievements has been the Drake Prairie Rescue and Restoration Program, through which he has organized 165 events in 22 separate counties between 2004-2016.

During this time, he worked with landowners to protect 51 different remnant prairie and savanna ecosystems. His passion for this project was passed on to the 170 Drake students who received hands-on management experience and ecological training while working over 2,625 hours on projects under Dr. Rosburg’s mentorship.

“Ever since I discovered how many native prairie and savanna remnants still exist in rural Iowa — during a research project aimed at mapping prairies — that are in need of management to prevent their demise, I have felt a strong obligation to save as many as possible,” Rosburg said.

With over 50 years of service to conservation projects since he joined a 4-H chapter in the 1960s, Dr. Rosburg continues following his passion for the environment at home. He and his wife, Carmen, live on a farmstead comprised of 3 acres of reconstructed prairie, 20 acres of grasslands and a silt dam to protect downstream water quality. Rosburg’s other hobbies include hiking, running (he has completed three ultramarathons), nature photography, sustainable farming, hunting, fishing and reading.

Marilyn Dorland and Larry Reis were also finalists for the Hagie Heritage Award. Their commitment to Iowa’s land has been cultivated by years of effort and dedication to bettering their respective communities.

Dorland has allowed her Clarke County woodland to be enjoyed by residents through educational hikes and lectures about the area. She has also helped establish community gardens and donated hundreds of hours to CROSS Ministries recycling clothing to send to countries such as Haiti and Nigeria.

Reis, an over 30-year staff member of the Winneshiek County Conservation Board, has presented over 7,500 educational programs that have reached more than 200,000 people. Outside of the CCB, he has also been a DNR volunteer hunter education instructor for 30 years.

Dr. Rosburg will receive his award at a date and time to be determined. For any questions regarding the ceremony, please contact Erin Griffin, INHF events coordinator and development specialist, at egriffin@inhf.org or 515-288-1846, ext. 11.


INHF is a statewide nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and other partners to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect nearly 150,000 acres of Iowa’s wild places in 96 Iowa counties.