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Oberholtzer Awards

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Nahant Marsh’s Oberholtzer Awards were started to recognize local people who have dedicated their lives (or will dedicate their lives) to protecting our natural world. Often times these people go unnoticed or have been largely forgotten for their contributions. The awards are a way to recognize their hard work and leadership in conservation, to bring awareness to the causes they believe in, and to inspire others to take action.


Ernest Carl “Ober” Oberholtzer (1884-1977) was celebrated as the 2019 Recipient for Past Conservation Leadership. Born in Davenport, Iowa, he was a founding member of the Wilderness Society and instrumental in protecting the wilderness and lakes of Northern Minnesota.

“Ernest Oberholtzer is one of the great, unsung heroes of the American conservation movement. He is best known for his pioneering work to preserve one of the last remaining wilderness areas east of the Rockies, the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario” –Minnesota Historical Society.

Mr. Oberholzter died on June 6, 1977, in International Falls, Minnesota, and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Davenport. Mary Swalla Holmes from the Ernest Oberholtzer Foundation will be accepting the award on his behalf.

Curtis Lundy was celebrated as the 2019 Recipient for Present Conservation Leadership. Curtis grew up and spent much of his life in the Quad Cities. He combined his business career with helping to form Xstream Cleanup, Partners of Scott County Watersheds, the Integrated Roadside Vegetative Management program and other environmental efforts. He served on the boards of Living Lands & Waters and Nahant Marsh for many years and is currently the Board President for Nahant Marsh. Lundy now divides his time between working with local environmental organizations and restoring his 130 acres of bluff and stream property in Northeast Iowa.

Aislinn Geedey was celebrated as the 2019 Recipient for Future Conservation Leadership. Aislinn’s passion for conservation undoubtedly comes from her parents, who are both faculty in Biology at Augustana College in Rock Island. In addition to spending time at the Green Wing Environmental Laboratory and participating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mussel Round-up, she has been heavily involved in the Environmental Action Club at Rock Island High School, volunteers at many Quad City Conservation Alliance (QCCA) events, Xstream Clean Ups, at Nahant Marsh, and at the QCCA wetland, and has been a member of Girl Scouts for 9 years. She also traveled to Costa Rica to participate in sea turtle egg relocation and other conservation projects. Ms. Geedey is finishing her senior year at Rock Island High School and will be attending Luther College in the fall. There, she intends to major in both Biology and English and is applying to be one of their Sustainability Fellows. As part of the Oberholtzer Future Award, Aislinn received a $2,000 scholarship.

A keynote was delivered by Charity Nebbe, host of “Talk of Iowa” on Iowa Public Radio, and host of “Iowa Ingredient” on Iowa Public Television.

Premier event sponsorship for the 2019 Oberholtzer Awards came from the Joyce and Tony Singh Family Foundation, with support from BITCO Insurance Companies, Walcott Trust and Savings Bank, WVIK-Quad Cities NPR, Waste Commission of Scott County, Iowa Public Television, Iowa Public Radio, Miller Trucking & Excavating, Quad City Conservation Alliance, Living Lands and Waters, Quad City Audubon Society, Thrivent Financial, Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Sierra Club Eagle View Group.