Dr. Jim Pease wins 2022 Hagie Heritage award

By Joe Jayjack on September 22, 2022 in Press Center

Joe Jayjack, INHF Communications Director
jjayjack@inhf.org, 515-288-1846, ext. 19

Jim Pease

Dr. Jim Pease is the 33rd winner of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation's Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award.

DES MOINES — Dr. Jim Pease of Ames has been selected by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to receive the 2022 Lawrence and Eula Hagie Heritage Award, which recognizes Iowans who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of Iowa’s natural environment and encouraging others to do the same.

Dr. Pease, also known as ‘Mr. Wildlife’ within the conservation community, has dedicated his five-decade career to conservation and has given many of his after-hours and weekends to furthering environmental education in Iowa.

“Although he was a professional, his commitment goes beyond this expectation,” wrote Judith Levings, a retired 4-H Assistant Director who worked with Dr. Pease and was one of four people to nominate him for the award. “Jim is one of a kind, and although he no longer works for ISU as a professor and extension specialist, his work for Iowa’s natural environment and for Iowans has not stopped.”

Jim PeaseDr. Pease taught wildlife interpretation and international wildlife courses at Iowa State University and served as statewide Extension Wildlife Specialist for 24 years. He was a frequent guest lecturer in other departments across the campus and worked with other agencies, including County Conservation Boards, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Prior to this, he served as a State 4-H Youth Development Specialist.

“While working at ISU, many of his weekends and evenings were filled with doing extras for his students, serving on committees, speaking to public groups, and engaging in public service,” Levings wrote.

“His knowledge and exuberance about all living things was delivered to thousands in his classroom and across the state,” said Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University President. “The messages he so enthusiastically conveyed were grounded in science, and he successfully translated research data into useful information for Iowans.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Pease organized retreats and events like the Statewide Youth Hunter Education Challenge and Iowa Conservation Education Council (ICEC) workshops; developed conservation educational materials with the Iowa Association of Naturalists (IAN) and ICEC; and founded the Iowa NatureMapping, Master Conservationist, and Master River Stewards programs. He has paddled over 2200 miles of Iowa rivers and written reports and brochures for the Iowa Water Trails Program over the past 8 years.

“Jim exemplifies the spirit of this award,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “He is always going the extra mile to protect Iowa’s wildlife habitat, water quality and scenic outdoor places. More importantly, he is constantly educating the next generation of conservation leaders in Iowa.”

“All of my work is made possible only with strong support from my wife, Cindy, and the many incredible colleagues in conservation across the state. Working together as landowners, agencies, and non-profits, we can truly make a difference for Iowans and the future of wild places and wild things”, Pease said.

In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Pease was previously recognized as a Master Interpreter by the National Association for Interpretation. He has also received a Distinguished Science Teacher Award from the Iowa Academy of Science, and the Leopold Award for lifetime achievement from ICEC and IAN.

“[Jim has] inspired numerous students to become leaders in conservation in Iowa and beyond and led an untold number of Iowans to live more in tune with our wild world,” wrote Diane Birt and John Pohlman, representing the Outdoor Alliance of Story County.

Even in retirement, Dr. Pease has continued to educate and inspire by serving as the Chair of the Story County Conservation Board, President of the Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park, guiding Iowans on international wildlife tours and serving as a consultant and presenter. He has continued to speak on the Talk of Iowa radio show, where his message to “keep wildness in your lives” reached thousands more.

“Jim is one of the most gifted educators I have ever encountered,” wrote nominator Charity Nebbe, the host of Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa. “His depth of knowledge is part of it, but more importantly, he is an extraordinary communicator and a captivating storyteller. His enthusiasm is infectious and it’s impossible to listen to him without sharing it. Through his time on Iowa Public Radio, he has talked to hundreds of thousands of Iowans. He has educated them, sparked their curiosities and I have no doubt that he has inspired thousands to get out and explore and even to change their behavior to better protect and restore our natural environment.”

The Hagie Heritage Award was endowed in 1989 by Jan Shindel of De Witt, Iowa, and Ila Jeanne Logan of Moville, Iowa, in honor of their parents, Lawrence and Eula Hagie. The winner receives a $1,000 prize and a hand-carved acorn sculpture made by Dennis and Linda Schlicht of Center Point.

Dr. Pease will be recognized at a reception at the Story County Conservation Center on Friday, Oct. 14, 4-6 p.m. Find more information and RSVP for the event here.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and public partners to protect and restore Iowa's land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 185,000 acres of Iowa's natural resources. Learn more at www.inhf.org.