Kathy Wine, a co-founder and longtime leader of River Action Inc., Davenport, will receive a top award from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in a ceremony Wednesday at Davenport's Figge Art Museum.
The foundation is a nonprofit that works to protect and restore Iowa's land, water and wildlife. The annual award recognizes Iowans who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to conservation and improvement of the natural environment, and who encourage others to do the same.
Wine is widely known in the Quad-City area for many visible projects that have been spearheaded by the nonprofit River Action — everything from the lighting of the Talbot Memorial Bridge (Centennial Bridge), to organizing what are now annual events such as the Ride the River bicycle ride on Father's Day, the Taming of the Slough adventure race, the Floatzilla canoe and kayak flotilla and the annual Upper Mississippi River Conference.
But the heritage foundation award also recognizes work that sometimes isn't so visible, such as the gritty work of helping to restore wetlands and the longtime push to create the Nahant Marsh Education Center in Davenport that hosts numerous programs to educate others.
It's that last part Wine is particularly concerned about. When she looks back on the accomplishments of the past 30-plus years, "I feel like it's wonderful, but I also feel we have a long way to go," she said.
Her goal is to create a culture of conservation in which individual people as well as units of governments such as cities and counties would embrace conservation of natural resources as a matter of course.
“When we started recycling everybody got involved in it, and when they do it now, they feel like environmentalists," Wine said in a written news release. "If we can get to that critical mass with conservation, we’ll be doing the same thing — creating a culture in which everyone considers themselves a conservationist.”
Teri Goodman, the assistant city manager of Dubuque, is one of the people who nominated Wine for the award.
"Kathy Wine is a bold visionary and tenacious leader who invites the community to embrace the Mississippi River and its habitat by creating options for residents and visitors alike to touch the mighty Mississippi through bike trails, interpretative centers, reclamation of natural spaces, public design practices, art, education and economics," Goodman wrote.
Daniel Ray, another nominator, wrote: “For over 30 years, Kathy’s vision, hard work, and capacity to engage others has raised awareness of the Mississippi’s resources, enhanced access to the river, improved and protected its ecosystem, and deepened the commitment of ... others to the Big River’s protection.”