Patterson receives Aldo Leopold Award

The Garden Club of America recently presented past OWAA president Richard A. Patterson with the Aldo Leopold Award in recognition of extraordinary service, dedication and commitment in land preservation and responsible stewardship.
A New Jersey native, Patterson is a graduate of the University of Idaho and has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department richpatterson-webof Fish and Game. In 1975 he was named director of the Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson, Kan.; three years later he became director of the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In his 35 years as a nonprofit director Patterson has developed and implemented many techniques of ecological restoration. He began intensive prairie restoration in Kansas in 1975 and continued in Iowa. He began using prescribed burns in degraded oak/hickory savannas in 1989. Restored habitats provide a template for the Nature Center’s ambitious environmental education programs.
Over the years Patterson has coordinated the protection of four significant natural areas in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. “Our organization has been helped by thousands of volunteers who have assisted in habitat management and lead programs for children,” he said.
Part of the success the private nonprofit Indian Creek Nature Center has achieved is due to its innovative and effective fund raising. The organization receives no tax appropriation and relies on fees, contributions, memberships, sales and grants to operate. Patterson has worked tirelessly to develop an endowment to ensure long-term financial stability.
“The Nature Center is here forever to serve the environment and people,” Patterson said. “The endowment is the perpetual funding arm of the organization.”
The Nature Center is located at 6665 Otis Road S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. For information check out its Web site at
For pictures from the ceremony and a copy of Patterson’s acceptance speech, visit Marion Patterson’s Flickr site and her blog, “From the Heartland.”

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