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Medalists

2017 GCA Medalists


Amy L. Freitag

Upper Montclair, New Jersey

The Achievement Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and in tribute to creative vision and ability in the interpretation and furtherance of the aims of The Garden Club of America. The achievement may be in science, history, literature, practice of horticulture, in the art of landscape gardening, or in the field of civic planting, where distinction of accomplishment has been of national influence in promoting higher standards of public taste. The medal was designed in 1932 by Paul Manship and presented by Mrs. Henry Osborn Taylor, Middletown Garden Club, Zone II. It was endowed in 1963 by a member of the Garden Club of Somerset Hills, Zone IV. Previous recipients include Nancy Stallworth Thomas (2003), Emma White Seymour (2009), Jan Pratt (2012), Shirley Meneice (2013).

Amy Freitag is the executive director of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a NYC-based charitable foundation. She recently launched “The Gotham Program” which addresses the open space issues that plague the boroughs of New York City. By rehabilitating and restoring some of the city’s most neglected areas, Amy is following her passion of injecting life and accessibility into forgotten pieces of land.

Amy served as executive director of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) from 2010-2014, where she led a diverse staff of landscape managers, designers and community engagement professionals to improve green spaces in New York City’s highest need communities. Major projects included the successful execution of the MillionTreesNYC program, renovation of seven community gardens and the $6 million campaign to complete the restoration of Sherman Creek Park in Manhattan. Prior to her work at NYRP, Amy served as U.S. Program Director for the World Monuments Fund. Her professional background includes serving as deputy commissioner for capital projects in the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and several titles in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Amy serves on the board of the New York Preservation Archive Project and the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation.

Amy lectures nationally on the history of women in conservation and is researching a book on the founding of The Garden Club of America. She holds an A.B. from Smith College and master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Historic Preservation from The University of Pennsylvania. Amy is former GCA President Christine Freitag’s daughter.

Proposed by: The Weeders, Zone V


Jane Pfau Godshalk

Haverford, Pennsylvania

The Katharine Thomas Cary Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of floral design education. The medal was designed by Karl Gruppe in 1955 and endowed by the New Canaan Garden Club, Zone II in memory of their member, Mrs. William H. Cary. Previous recipients include Catherine Beattie (1993), Janet Moon (2002), Kit Barker (2003), Bonny Martin (2012).

More than 25 years ago, Jane Godshalk discovered her passion for flowers when she began entering flower shows as a new member of Four Counties Garden Club. Her creative genius has led to her worldwide reputation as a highly sought after teacher at demonstrations, lectures and workshops.

Her enthusiasm is contagious and, by her example, Jane continues to inspire others. She is a woman with tremendous talent and generosity of spirit that touches everyone around her. As an educator in floral design, Jane is on the faculty of Longwood Gardens, one of the finest botanical gardens in the United States. In the Longwood Gardens Educational Program, Jane has instructed over 180 courses and mentored 175 Certificate Program Graduates. She continues to give lectures and workshops nationally and internationally, as well as giving classes at a local prison for women.

Jane keeps her personal education current by attending floral workshops with designers across the continents as well as the GCA Flower Arranging Study Group. She is a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers. Jane represented the United States at the 2014 World Association of Flower Arrangers (WAFA) in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Chelsea Flower Show.  She is an award-winning designer at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

In April 2014, Jane’s book Flower Arranging Secrets: Natural Designs for Everyday Living was published. In the beautifully illustrated book she shares tips and techniques for creating eco-friendly floral designs, inspiring everyone from beginner to expert.

Proposed by: Four Counties Garden Club, Zone V


Gilbert M. Grosvenor

Hume, Virginia

The Frances K. Hutchinson Medal is awarded to figures of national importance for distinguished service to conservation. The medal was designed in 1940 by Spaulding-Gorham Silversmiths of Chicago. The medal was presented and endowed by the Lake Geneva Garden Club, Zone XI, in memory of its founder, Mrs. Charles L. Hutchinson. Previous recipients include Rachel Carson (1951), Walt Disney (1954), former Secretary of State Stewart Udall (1965), Lady Bird Johnson (1968), and Roger Tory Peterson (1970).

Under Gilbert M. Grosvenor’s visionary guidance the National Geographic magazine became a preeminent leader in conservation, exploration, education and adventure, presenting to the world’s peoples the beauty, wonder and fragility of planet earth. Friend to explorers, scientists and conservationists, Gil used his platform to spotlight their accomplishments and to focus on the challenges of protecting land, water, and wildlife. His goal was to call attention to the remarkable diversity of peoples and cultures and the need to protect this heritage.

Gil has served the National Geographic Society since 1954, first as a writer, photographer and editor of National Geographic magazine, then as president and chairman of the board of the Society until 2010. Over five decades Gil expanded the reach of the magazine by creating Kids and Traveler magazines. He embraced the full panoply of modern media expanding the scope of the Society via publishing, television and the digital world. Recognizing that our children were geographically illiterate, Gil networked with educators nationwide promoting state-mandated geography studies. He founded the National Geographic Society Education Program that flourishes today.

In a collaborative effort, the National Geographic Society with The Garden Club of America, The Conservation Fund, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others established the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail as a national park, the first water-based national historic trail.

A member of the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors, Gil received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. He has generously served on national and international boards and has been awarded 14 honorary doctorates.

Proposed by: Garden Club of Chevy Chase, Zone VI


Richard Hampton Jenrette

New York, New York

The Historic Preservation Medal is awarded for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance. The medal was designed in 1973 by Joseph Kiselewski of New York City and presented and endowed by Mrs. John Leddy-Jones, Founders Garden Club of Dallas, Zone IX, and Mrs. Leonard Kirby, Jupiter Island Garden Club, Zone VIII. Previous recipients include Dr. William Seale, Jr. (2004), J. Reid Williamson (2006), Peter J. Hatch (2011), The Garden Conservancy (2012).

Richard Hampton Jenrette is a self-proclaimed “house-aholic.” Over the past 40 years he has owned and restored a dozen old houses, most dating back to the early nineteenth century. He also rebuilt an antebellum hotel. Some of these properties were sold or given away, but he currently retains six of the finest. With the collection of early American houses came the next logical step, the collecting of period antiques to furnish the houses. Today, Dick owns hundreds of antiques, almost entirely American and many original to the houses.

He served as chairman of the Board of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc. from 1974 to 1996, having been a founder of the firm in 1959. He is the former board chairman and CEO of The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Described by The New York Times as “the last gentleman on Wall Street,” Dick has had a distinguished career that has included service on numerous boards of directors for corporations and philanthropic groups.

Dick has received awards for his historic preservation activities: the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Hadrian Award presented by the World Monuments Fund, as well as awards from the Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.

In the foreword to Dick’s book, Adventures with Old Houses, HRH The Prince of Wales wrote, “No wonder some of his admirers have described Dick as a one-person National Trust for Historic Preservation.”

Proposed by: Green Spring Valley Garden Club, Zone VI


Wendy Judge Paulson

Chicago, Illinois

The Margaret Douglas Medal is awarded for notable service to the cause of conservation education. The medal was designed by Art Deco sculptor Rene P. Chambellan in 1952. It was presented and endowed by Mrs. Robert. D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club, New Hampshire, to honor Mrs. Walter Douglas, a member-at-large. Previous winners include author and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1990), documentary filmmaker Bill Kurtis (1997), and educator Katy Moss Warner (2002).

Wendy Paulson is a lifelong educator in classrooms and the great outdoors. In Barrington, Illinois, she revived and expanded “The Nature Lady” program for elementary school students district-wide. She established and directed the education program for Citizens for Conservation, which manages hundreds of acres of native prairie and savanna. While on the Board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, she helped develop citizen science programs. As an education associate, Wendy encouraged engagement between people, birds and nature, especially in urban schools. She helped start a program called Birds in My Neighborhood in New York City and now teaches a similar program in Chicago public schools.

Wendy has served as board chairman for The Nature Conservancy and for Rare. As chairman of the Bobolink Foundation, Wendy has helped protect thousands of acres around the world, including Little St. Simons, an 11,000-acre wild barrier island on Georgia’s coast. Wendy was instrumental in saving Cannon’s Point from development through a substantial gift to the St. Simons Land Trust and by canvassing St. Simons on a bicycle to develop a leadership structure for its protection. This 608-acre peninsula is now a publicly accessible wilderness preserve that hosts hundreds of students each year to learn about the ecology of barrier islands.

Whether leading bird walks in Illinois natural areas, helping inner city students identify birds in their neighborhoods or influencing world leaders and dignitaries, Wendy has dedicated her life to teaching others how to understand and care for the natural world.

Proposed by: Ridgefield Garden Club, Zone II


The Trustees of Reservations

Beverly, Massachusetts

The Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal is awarded to non-members for exemplary service and creative vision in any field related to The Garden Club of America’s special interests. The medal has the GCA logo lamp on one side and the citation on the other. It was endowed by the Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Charitable Foundation in 2003. Previous recipients are Lady Bird Johnson (2006), The Newman Family & Newman’s Own Foundation (2009), Dr. Wes Jackson (2012), John H. Bryan (2014).

Founded in 1891, The Trustees became the world’s first land preservation non-profit and Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation organization. Its influence extends far beyond Massachusetts, becoming the precursor and model for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its commitment to the preservation of historic landscapes, sustainable horticulture and public spaces has inspired an extraordinary number of projects in both countries.

The Trustees preserves and cares for 116 of the Commonwealth’s most important sites for public education and enjoyment. Its mission includes property stewardship: protecting and caring for the scenic, historic and ecological treasures of each reservation while providing access for visitors. It has created over 5,000 annual programs to inspire, educate and connect the public to the landscape and rich history of the sites.

Visited by one and a half million people annually, the properties span more than 26,000 acres, from working farmlands, forests and miles of coastline, to community parks, campgrounds and National Historic Landmarks. A leader in land conservation, The Trustees holds conservation restrictions on over 20,000 acres and with community partners protects another 25,000 acres across the state.

The Trustees continues to show leadership through its conservation advocacy, ecological restorations, adoption of sustainable land use and community-supported agriculture, and by generating renewable energy on its properties. Projects at the National Historic Landmark gardens of Naumkeag and Castle Hill are the first in a plan to restore other stunning horticultural sites owned by The Trustees.

Proposed by: North Shore Garden Club of Massachusetts, Zone I


Kristine McDivitt Tompkins 

San Francisco, California

The Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life. The medal was designed by sculptor, Charles Parks in 1979; it was endowed by Mrs. William K. Laughlin of the Southampton Garden Club, Zone III. Previous winners include Patrick F. Noonan (1984), the Outdoor Circle of Hawaii (1985), Wendell E. Berry (2008), U.S. Green Building Council (2009), Rossie Fisher (2012).

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins retired in 1993 as CEO of the clothing company Patagonia, Inc., married Douglas Tompkins (founder of The North Face and Esprit), and turned her talents to saving nature’s beauty and diversity. Kris and Doug implemented an audacious plan to purchase ecologically important land in Chile and Argentina, restore it as needed, and ultimately donate it to the two countries as national parks for public enjoyment. For over twenty-five years they acquired and placed in permanent conservation three million acres of biodiverse habitat, the most land protected by private individuals in history. Often they worked in partnership with governments to combine their private land with publicly-owned land, thus multiplying the beneficial impact.

Kris and Doug created five new national parks and two provincial parks with six additional national parks in progress. They restored natural grasslands, forests and agricultural land, protected wetlands, created wildlife corridors, reintroduced native species such as the giant anteater and jaguar, promoted ecotourism, and developed the idea that sustainable agricultural areas can serve as biophysical buffers supporting the ecological integrity of adjacent wildlands.

The Tompkins also promoted a worldview of conservation that embraces coexistence of nature and human enterprise and that provides scientists with vast tracts of biodiverse land to compare nature’s inherent efficiencies with land actively managed by humans.

Doug died in 2015, but Kris promises to continue and “even accelerate” the Tompkins Foundation work including that of Conservacion Patagonica founded by Kris. A passionate conservation advocate, her vision and accomplishments invite global replication.

Proposed by: Corbin Harwood, Zone VI


Alice Walton

Bentonville, Arkansas

The Medal of Honor is awarded for outstanding service to horticulture. The medal was designed in 1920 by sculptor John Flanagan who also designed the U.S. quarter dollar coin, first issued in 1932. The medal was endowed in 1963 by the Bedford Garden Club, Zone III, in memory of their member, Mrs. Arthur Marvin Anderson. Previous recipients include Michael Dirr (1993), Daniel J. Hinkley (2004), James Folsom (2007), American Chestnut Foundation (2013).

Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton is the founder and board chairperson of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. An avid nature lover and art collector, Alice envisioned creating a significant art museum in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, so that people of the region would have ready access to great works of art.

Alice conceived Crystal Bridges as a celebration, not only of American art and history, but also of the Ozark landscape that she loves. She planned to build the museum on land that had belonged to the Walton family. In 2005, Alice involved her family in her dream for Crystal Bridges, and the Walton Family Foundation agreed to fund the project.

Nestled in 120-acres of Ozark woodlands, the museum opened on November 11, 2011, with the mission of welcoming all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since its debut, the museum has welcomed more than three million visitors from all over the world to explore its grounds and galleries.

The establishment of the museum and its impact within the region have prompted numerous accolades for Alice. She is a recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Medal, the John Cotton Dana Medal for Visionary Leadership in Museums, and the Leonore and Walter Annenberg Award for Diplomacy through the Arts for her significant philanthropic contributions. She was recognized by TIME magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

Proposed by: Little Rock Garden Club, Zone IX


Andrea Wulf

London, United Kingdom

The Sarah Chapman Francis Medal is awarded for outstanding literary achievement related to any aspect of The Garden Club of America interests. It was presented and endowed in 1964 by Mrs. Otis Cook Stanton, Garden Club of Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Lewis Witherbee Francis, member-at-large of the Garden Club of America. The medal was created by Allison Macomber based on a design by Susanne S. Underwood, Garden Cub of Buzzard's Bay. Previous recipients included Edwin Way Teale (1965), the Sierra Club (1968), Frances Perry (1973), John Henry Dick (1984), and GCA Bulletin Editor Sally McQueen Squire (2009.)

Andrea Wulf is the author of The Invention of Nature (2015), Chasing Venus, Founding GardenersThe Brother Gardeners, and co-author of This Other Eden. She has written for The New York TimesThe Financial TimesThe Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. In 2014 she co-presented British Gardens in Time on BBC television.  

Chasing Venus was published in conjunction with the last transit of Venus in this century. The Brother Gardeners won the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Annual Literature Award for Significant Work in Botanical or Horticultural Literature as well as the American Horticultural Society Book Award. The Invention of Nature won the Costa Biography Award 2015, the Royal Society Science Book Prize, the Notable Book of Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, the LA Times Book Prize 2016 and the Bayerische Buchpreis 2016 in Germany.  It also received the inaugural James Wright Award for Nature Writing (Kenyon Review in association with The Nature Conservancy), and was selected as on of the "10 Best Books for 2015" by The New York Times Book Review

She has lectured worldwide, from the Royal Geographical Society in London to Monticello and the New York Public Library in the United States.  She is a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and was the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence in 2013. She is a member of PEN American Center, an International Fellow of the Explorers Club, a member of The Society of Woman Geographers, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Proposed by: Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, Zone VII


Peter S. Wyse Jackson

St. Louis, Missouri

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for distinguished service in the field of horticulture. The medal was designed by Elizabeth Rhodes Reynolds. It was presented and endowed in 1953 by Mrs. Robert D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club, Zone I. Previous recipients include: Thalassa Cruso Hencken (1970), Harvey S. Ladew (1971), Marco Polo Stufano (1999), New England Wild Flower Society (2001).

Peter Wyse Jackson has served as president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and George Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis since 2010. Peter obtained a BA in botany and an MA from Trinity College Dublin, where he subsequently earned his PhD for work on the taxonomy of Irish Cruciferae.

In 1981, he was appointed administrator of the Trinity College Dublin Botanic Garden. In 1987, he moved to Kew to join the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, where he helped to establish the international network organization for botanic gardens which became Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). In 1994, he was appointed secretary general of BGCI. He served as director of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland from 2005 until 2010. He played a lead role in the development of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, adopted by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002. Peter has served as chairman of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation since 2004. He is the co-author of the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation. Having served as the founding chairman, he continues as the co-chairman of the World Flora Online Consortium.

His publications include 12 books and 250-plus scientific papers and articles. His most recent book, Ireland’s Generous Nature: The Past and Present Uses of Wild Plants in Ireland (Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 2014) was shortlisted for the international 2015 Annual Literature Award of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries.

Proposed by: Ladue Garden Club, Zone XI