The Cedar Rapids Garden Club (CRGC) and Indian Creek Nature Center are pleased to announce Jan Aiels is a recipient of the Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award.
Established in 1992, the Hull award recognizes local champions who impart to children under 16 years of age a love and concern for the natural environment. Aiels, a Cedar Rapids resident, was nominated for the national award by CRGC. Normally a dozen or fewer individuals are honored each year. This year, the 30th anniversary of the award, Aiels and 19 other individuals will receive the Hull Award, which provides each winner with a $1,000 prize.
“We are so excited and happy that Jan, who has given so much of her time and energy to educating area youth, is being recognized on a national level.” – CRGC President Kathy Smith.
Aiels served as an educator for 24 years at Indian Creek Nature Center, which opened in 1973. She retired in 2016 as Director of Education, when her educational programs and field trips served 14,000 children each year.
Responsible for school groups, Girl and Boy Scouts, other youth organizations and public groups visiting the Nature Center, Aiels developed a wide range of innovative programming, including wetland curriculums, prairie scavenger hunts, silent hikes, owl and beaver interviews, Girl and Boy Scout field days, an in-depth homeschool curriculum, moonwalks, and more. She always brought her love of the outdoors to the programs she designed and led — her passion and knowledge inspiring many to appreciate and understand the outdoors, not only to their benefit, but to the environment’s as well.
With its award nomination, CRGC submitted two letters of recommendation written by individuals familiar with Aiels’ work:
“Creek stompers, maple syrup ice cream cones, crafts, fire makers, honey pageant queens and literal queen bees all made nature accessible and engaging. This engagement contributed to lifelong wonder and awe, and extensive relationships with the natural world.” – Kate Hogg
“In reflecting on Jan’s many attributes, one rises to the surface. Compassion. In her work and volunteerism at a number of community organizations over many years, Jan demonstrated her deep compassion for people, especially children struggling to overcome challenges. She served as an outstanding role model.” – Rich Patterson, ICNC’s Emeritus Director
“Generations of children and families have had a sense of wonder and awe cultivated in them because of Jan Aiels’ tireless work. Her passion for nature and the outdoors has inspired thousands of Champions of Nature who are protecting the environment day in and day out. Jan is an amazing teacher, lifelong learner, and sustainability leader.” – John Myers, ICNC’s Executive Director
All are invited to celebrate with Jan at Indian Creek Nature Center on Wednesday, June 8, beginning at 10 AM. The reception is open to the public and refreshments will be served. Please contact us with questions.
About the Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award
Elizabeth Abernathy Hull (1900-1996) spent her early life in South Dakota and Missouri. She moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1936 and became an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club. Hull credited her mother and grandmother with instilling in her a concern for the environment and encouraging her to appreciate common-sense horticultural practices long before they became nationally accepted. This Garden Club of America award provides $1,000 to chosen recipients who honor Hull’s common sense approach to environmental awareness by inspiring children under 16 to appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet.
About the Cedar Rapids Garden Club
CRGC was founded in 1927 and is an affiliate of the Garden Club of America, which has 199 clubs and 18,000 members in 40 states. The club has 41 active and 23 legacy members. The club’s mission is two-fold: first, to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening for both members and the public, and second, to restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment. In the last decade, CRGC has invested more than $250,000 in community efforts.
About Indian Creek Nature Center:
Located in Cedar Rapids, Indian Creek Nature Center is Iowa’s first and largest nonprofit nature center. With 500 acres of land under its management, the Nature Center hosts thousands of visitors each year for nature-based programs and activities. ICNC’s mission is to promote a sustainable future by nurturing individuals through environmental education, providing leadership in land protection and restoration, and encouraging responsible interaction with nature.