Nancy Cutbirth Small Distinguished Service Award

The Nancy Cutbirth Small Distinguished Service Award was established to honor the memory of one of the most important founders of the Kalamazoo Area Chapter of Wild Ones.

The award is presented to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions, to our Chapter, to environmental education, and to the restoration of native plants and natural landscapes in southwest Michigan.

  • The award was established in early 2011 by an action of the Executive Committee.
  • Any member in good standing of KAWO may nominate an individual by providing a written statement of reasons why the nominee should receive the award, submitted to the Executive Committee.
  • The recipient will receive a lifetime membership in the Kalamazoo Area chapter of Wild Ones.

2024: Paul Olexia, Mike Klug, Carol Klug, Ann Fraser, Dave Wendling

As part of its twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, KAWO honors five individuals for their outstanding records of service to the chapter, to environmental education, and to native plant restoration. Ann Fraser, Carol and Mike Klug, and Paul Olexia have devoted their lives to teaching biological and environmental sciences. Carol and Mike Klug, Paul Olexia, and Dave Wendling have served as President of KAWO, as well as on many committees. Ann Fraser has been especially valuable in her service to committees and in media publicity. All five recipients have presented special programs for KAWO and many other environmental organizations. Working together with other Wild Ones, all of them have been involved in many restoration and research projects, on their own properties and on preserves and private lands throughout southwest Michigan. This award was presented in a ceremony at the 2024 Spring Plant Exchange.

2014: Ilse Gebhard

Ilse Gebhard, a charter member of KAWO, received the award in 2014 for extraordinary achievements in support of the chapter’s and the Audubon Society of Kalamazoo’s activities in establishing educational native-plant gardens; for her tireless work for preservation of milkweeds, monarch butterflies, and their wonderful migration, especially chairing our Monarch Butterfly Committee; for working, together with her husband Russ Schipper, with Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, Wild Ones, and other organizations to establish prairie habitat for threatened grassland birds; and in presenting, year after year, dozens of educational programs on native plants, butterflies and moths, and native ecosystems.

2012: Richard Brewer

The first recipient was Dr. Richard Brewer (1933-2023), who received the award at the February 2012 KAWO meeting in honor of his many services and kindnesses to the chapter and to all of us, and for his outstanding, unfailing support of environmental education and restoration throughout the area.

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