Nancy's achievements fall into four categories--writing, flower arranging, leadership, and teaching. She has co-authored three significant books that highlight the contributions made by members of GCA clubs to American gardening, horticulture and floral design---The Fine Art of Flower Arranging and Gardens Private and Personal with Bonny Martin; and Flower Arranging the American Way with Deen Day Sanders for the World Association of Flower Arrangers USA.
Nancy joined the Middletown (CT) Garden Club in the 70s. There she discovered flower arranging, a compelling mix of art, nature and narrative—with the added motivation of competition. In 1979 she entered the International Design Symposium in Bermuda and came home with the Best in Show, garnering the same trophy a few years later at the international show in Massachusetts. She received the coveted Bonnylin Woods Martin Medal for consistently innovative floral designs in 2003.
Nancy has served as a Director and on many GCA committees, chairing Awards and Nominating. Her zone has honored her with the Zone Creative Leadership Award and the Zone Judging Award. In addition, she received the Puckett Creativity Award, the Fenwick Medal, and the Barbara Spaulding Cramer Floral Design Award among others. For two decades Nancy kept the other side of her brain engaged in the day-to-day workings of health care, serving on the Board of the Middlesex Health System, named one of The Top 100 Hospitals in the nation.
Nancy's most recent challenges have been as a speaker and teacher—demonstrating the fine art of flower arranging; introducing clubs to her three books through PowerPoint presentations; and emphasizing to floral design judges the importance of clear concise comments based on the elements and principles of design.
Proposed by: Middletown Garden Club, Zone II
George Eastman House is an independent nonprofit museum that “tells the story of photography and motion pictures- media that have changed and continue to change our perception of the world.”
George Eastman’s colonial revival style mansion has been restored to the way it looked when he lived there from 1905 until his death in 1932. Mr. Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, took many photographs of his home and gardens. These photographs were enlarged to four times their original size so details like the carvings in the corner of a bookcase or table leg could be replicated, plaster work details on the ceiling that were missing could be refashioned and installed, and even fabric patterns could be identified and reproduced. Many in the historic preservation field and in media have referred to the restoration as “ picture perfect,” and it is.
Mr. Eastman’s greatest passion was his gardens, and he hired renowned landscape architect Alling S. DeForest to create an incredible landscape. The garden restoration took two years to complete using original plans and garden supply receipts. These gardens are known as the best restored example of DeForest’s work in existence today.
At GEH, historic preservation not only encompasses the grand home and gardens of Mr. Eastman, but also applies to this significant museum’s film, photography (over 40,000 images), and photographic devices collection. GEH is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of motion pictures. The masters degree program in photographic preservation and collections management at GEH is the only of its kind in the world, spreading the importance of preservation even further.
Proposed by: Rochester Garden Club, Zone III
Having dedicated her life to conservation, horticulture and philanthropy, Dodo Hamilton’s greatest gift is her vision. Whether it’s establishing a summer program for high school students to learn about horticulture or the restoration of great American gardens and landscapes, her impact is unprecedented and will be enjoyed for years to come.
She helped restore the only remaining Victorian fernery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum and the Azalea Gardens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and has recently restored the iconic “Blue Garden” in Newport, RI, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Her most ambitious effort was the restoration of the 45-acre Swiss Village Farm (SVF) in Newport. Partnering with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, SVF has become what The New York Times calls “the only organization in the country dedicated to conserving rare heritage livestock breeds.”
An avid gardener and horticulture competitor, Dodo not only holds the Philadelphia Flower Show record for winning more than 1,000 blue ribbons, but she also donated the “Hamilton Horticourt” to house the entries of future participants. Twenty years ago, she helped to establish The Newport Flower Show and continues to serve as that show’s “chair emeritus.”
As a horticulturalist, she has fundamentally strengthened the endeavors of many who have been inspired by her near perfect cultivation of common plants; and, she has stretched us all by her introduction of uncommon plants for competition that has encouraged others to make them the standard. As a conservationist and philanthropist, she has ensured that future generations can enjoy the fruits of a lifetime spent passionately improving our planet one garden at a time.
Proposed by: Newport Garden Club, Zone II
Peter Kukielski has revolutionized the American Rose Garden, so that it now can be beautiful, easily grown and safe for all creatures great and small. It began in 2006 when as Curator of The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden (a part of the NY Botanical Garden), he was charged with the mission of transforming the famous Beatrix Farrand designed garden into one that would meet New York’s new environmental standard. A statistician by earlier training, Peter researched European roses that had the characteristics and genetics to allow them to successfully complete rigorous French and German trials for sustainability. He also embraced the then nascent Earth-Kind movement evolving out of rose sustainability trials developed by pioneer, Dr. Steve George, at Texas A & M University. The Rockefeller Garden became the first East Coast Earth-Kind trial site.
After removal of hundreds of roses, most replaced with his new choices, Peter’s work culminated in The Peggy Rockefeller Garden receiving the Great Rosarians of the World Garden Hall of Fame Award for 2010. It was voted America’s Best Public Rose Garden Display by the All American Rose Selections (AARS) Committee. In 2012 the Garden received the Award of Excellence from the World Federation of Rose Societies, recognizing it as the best rose garden in the world.
Today Peter is the Executive Director of the new American Rose Trials For Sustainability (ARTS). Launched in 2014, these are national rose trials to scientifically determine the best roses based on regionality and climate. Also, in 2014 he introduced his new book, Roses Without Chemicals.
Proposed by: River Oaks Garden Club, Zone IX
Martha has been an inspirational leader since joining the Knoxville Garden Club. By 1988 she was immersed in flower arranging and took over the leadership role as the Flower Show Chairman for the The Knoxville Garden Club Flower Show, which she has done several times since. She has been Chairman of the Flower Arranging Study Group where her dedication to teaching and contagious sense of humor endear her to her students as they develop their skills. Martha travels constantly, both across the country lecturing and demonstrating, as well as entering flower shows both nationally and internationally. Her award winning floral designs and arranging tips appear regularly in the GCA By design magazine. While on the way to becoming a flower arranging guru she has won numerous blue ribbons, Best in Shows and the Barbara Spaulding Cramer Award.
From Seattle to Philadelphia and many places in between, Martha is known as a gifted mentor and teacher. She has taught those with dull clippers and those with sharp ones about the mechanics, the strategy and the beauty of arranging flowers for a party, the church altar, events, flower shows or simply for oneself. As a Judge she is known for being caring, sensitive and wise. Martha’s life is filled with sharing her love and passion for flowers. Martha’s enthusiasm is infectious, her knowledge is brilliant and her curiosity is never ending. She simply makes flower arranging happen.
Proposed by: Knoxville Garden Club, Zone IX
Bob is Senior Fellow at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. His books, lectures, and scholarly work have encouraged preservation of the natural and human treasures about which he writes so passionately.
Bob’s explorations have retraced the travel routes of several 18th and 19th century naturalists, including William Bartram, John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. His natural history research has taken him to: Nepal, Ecuador, Venezuela, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Siberia, Guyana and Mongolia.
As recounted in Headhunters and Hummingbirds: An Expedition into Ecuador, Bob was part of a grueling scientific expedition to the previously unexplored Ecuadorian Cordillera de Cutucu, home of the head-shrinking Jivaro or Shuar tribe. His seven trips to Mongolia between 1994 and 2011 were to study the wildlife and document the effects of climate change on native habitats and on the nomadic herdsmen who live on the harsh but fragile steppe. Bob was part of the first party from the US invited to study Lake Hovsgol, a fresh water lake associated with Siberia’s legendary Lake Baikal, the largest (by volume) and oldest (at 25 million years) freshwater lake in the world. This was a rare opportunity to study evolution of organisms and ecosystems that had not felt the direct effects of human activity. In 2006 he was sent by the White House to represent the US at Mongolia’s 800th birthday.
Bob has a special interest in the overlap of science, art, and the humanities, and the gift of understanding how delicate political, social and environmental elements unite to affect civilizations in fragile habitats. He is a keen observer, a non-judgmental scientist, and a gentle man.
Proposed by: The Garden Workers, Zone V
Martha has tirelessly dedicated her professional and volunteer life to preserving the health of our planet with her highly articulate written words and her generous gift of time and energy. For the past 10 years, she has brilliantly provided distinguished service to conservation education as editor of the National Affairs and Legislation (NAL) Legislative Update and associated Current Status Chart.
Every year, 300 delegates from GCA clubs across the country gather in Washington, DC for the annual NAL meeting. Martha’s extensive knowledge of the American legislative process has allowed her to clearly, correctly and in an unbiased manner present the delegates with issues of importance that are covered by GCA’s Position Papers. Her depth of knowledge from professional work on “the Hill” and her commitment to the environment serving on many environmental and civic organizations have gained Martha great respect from her peers and enabled her to beautifully connect the delegates to the federal legislation process and motivate them to be involved as citizens.
Martha’s dedication to GCA is incredible. She was president of her club and created two conservation exhibits that won Marion Thompson Fuller Brown awards while she held significant leadership roles on the NAL committee. Her passion to protect the natural world is paramount in her life; her ability to communicate this passion, and the means to make a difference, is unparalleled. Far beyond GCA, our planet is indebted to Martha for her insight and never ending dedication to the environment for our grandchildren and for future generations.
Proposed by: Member of Des Moines Founders Garden Club, Zone XI
John A. Ruthven, naturalist, author, lecturer, and wildlife artist, has dedicated his life to conserving our natural treasures. Often referred to as the "20th-century Audubon," Ruthven’s eye for realism in his artwork has burnished his reputation worldwide. He is known across the globe for his stunning works of art whose painstaking details are matched by their lifelike beauty.
Ruthven was drawn (pun intended) to his career, a calling he developed at a young age, to help preserve nature’s endangered species. He first came to national attention in 1960 when the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Postal Service featured his Redhead Ducks painting on a stamp for the Federal Duck Stamp initiative, a program that has is secured millions of acres of natural habitat for America’s flora and fauna.
Ruthven’s work has been displayed in esteemed institutions from the White House to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and he has been highly decorated for his contributions (e.g. National Medal of Arts presented by President George W. Bush).
At 90, Ruthven’s passion and energy have not diminished. He continues to devote his time and considerable talents to preserving nature through his advocacy and artistry, and his prodigious body of work bestows future generations with a visual record of nature’s threatened and vanishing species. He is a national treasure devoted to protecting our natural treasures.
Proposed by: Cincinnati Town and Country Garden Club, Zone X
Bill Schuster has devoted his life to advancing scientific understanding of the natural world. He has served as Executive Director of Black Rock Forest Consortium for 22 years, transforming a famous but little used 4,000-acre forest into a vibrant living laboratory, integrating research and education at all levels. This Consortium is considered a model of institutional collaboration, where Columbia University, The American Museum of Natural History and twenty other institutions benefit from the resources of a science field station within an hour of NYC.
During his tenure, their publication rate has increased tenfold, use for education and research has exceeded 13,000 visitor days per year, 35 master’s and doctoral dissertations have been completed and millions in grant funds have been secured. He pioneered the construction of 18,000 square feet of award-winning “green” science and education facilities.
Since 1992 ten additional properties have been added and the property is now under a conservation easement, guaranteeing public access and creating a $1.5 million fund for land conservation. He has helped create an ecological connectivity corridor in the Hudson Valley to ensure the ability of wildlife to survive future climate change. He has championed the use of science to guide conservation decisions, control deer populations, respond to eastern hemlock decline, and restore native trout populations.
Bill has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers and taught forest ecology, genetics, biological statistics and plant systematics at Penn State, University of Colorado, Barnard College, New York University and Columbia University in addition to hundreds of classes for K-12 students. In 2012 he was elected President of the Organization of Biological Field Stations and helped produce a report by the National Academy of Sciences on the importance and future of biological field stations.
Proposed by: Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, Zone III
Many of our nation’s icons of democracy are located on the National Mall. In 2001 it was clear, especially to John E. (Chip) Akridge, III, that years of neglect and underfunding had taken their toll. He envisioned the Trust for the National Mall, a public and private collaborative created in 2007 with the goal of restoring and improving America’s Front Yard. In 2010 when the Trust became a not-for-profit partner with the National Park Service, the National Mall Plan was approved to enhance the Mall’s beauty, usefulness and sustainability. Fund raising for these ambitious undertakings took prominence when Laura Bush became Honorary Campaign Chair successfully raising twenty-two million dollars in 2012. Since then many individuals, foundations and corporate sponsors from across the nation have become involved enabling work to progress.
Much was accomplished in a short time as the Trust’s early focus was on the most neglected and decaying structures. Restorations of the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Seawall, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the Olmsted Light Retrofit, the DC War Memorial as well as several other initiatives have been completed.
Currently, the Trust’s efforts are centered on the elegant and thoughtful designs to restore the 38 acre oasis, Constitution Gardens, created in 1976. The Trust’s ongoing patriotic stewardship of the Mall will ensure that our historical landmarks will continue to be treasured and cared for as the home to history, heroes and hope for over 25 million annual visitors.
Proposed by: Talbot County Garden Club, Zone VI