CNRA Silver Acorns

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CNRA: Silver Acorn Awards
Honoring Special Conservationists

The Silver Acorn is CNRA’s special award for outstanding effort and achievement in conservation work. The first Silver Acorn was given to Mrs. Aldo Leopold in 1951 to honor Aldo Leopold posthumously. Mrs. Leopold received a silver brooch, but subsequent awards have been fashioned as either a brooch or a tie clasp. The design, an acorn with an oak leaf, originated from the “good oak” in Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. Early members recall Owen Gromme sketching the design on a napkin for use as CNRA’s logo.

In its almost 60 year history, 27 Silver Acorns have been awarded. Three recipients still active in the conservation movement are featured here. For more about other recipients, download the article “Honoring Special Conservationists: The Silver Acorn Award” from our booklet CNRA: The First 50 Years, 1950-2001.

Lorrie Otto, Bayside, received her Silver Acorn in 1971. Lorrie was the primary force in initiating the DDT hearings in Madison that led to the banning of DDT. On RadioTime Lorrie is Interviewed by host Dick Gordon, Chapel Hill, NC on the fight to save our song birds and wildlife from DDT spraying in the 1960s.  Since then she became a leader in the movement to protect and restore natural areas and native plant communities. Her native gardens have appeared in national publications and on TV. She was an environmental educator active in local issues, protesting the prevalence of an unsustainable “lawn” culture and the alienation of modern day urban children from the natural world. Lorrie served on the CNRA Council for over 40 years.

Lorrie was recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal discussing her native garden of 50 years in Bayside.  When Lorrie Otto planted her first wild yard 50 years ago, she never dreamed it would turn into a lifelong passion. Back then, she said, she was just a nature lover trying to create “an enchanting place for my children to play.” Click to read Wild About Nature, JSOnline October 2008.

Olive Thomson, Mt. Horeb, received her Silver Acorn in 2001. Olive is a biologist who was among the first in the state to work on prairie restoration. She developed the Prairie Heritage Trail along County Highway JG south of Mt. Horeb. Active in the Nature Conservancy, she has served on numerous other state and local conservation boards and committees. A strong proponent of land preservation, she and her husband Professor John Thomson have worked with the Nature Conservancy to preserve and restore to prairie several large natural parcels in southern Wisconsin. In 1976 Olive revised Norman C. Fassett’s classic Spring Flora of Wisconsin. Olive is a long-time advisor to CNRA.

George Archibald, Baraboo, received his Silver Acorn in 2000. George, co-founder and long-time director of the International Crane Foundation, now serves on its board. He is an internationally recognized leader in research, education, fundraising and promotion of cooperative arrangements to protect cranes and preserve wetland habitat through the world. In recent years he initiated ultralite flights for sandhill cranes as a forerunner for reintroducing whooping cranes to Wisconsin, and continues working on the Whooping Crane Project. George has been a member of CNRA since 1985 when Ron Sauey, who co-founded ICF with him, was CNRA president.

Photos: Lorrie Otto in her natural yard, Whooping cranes at International Crane Foundation, Nature Trail at International Crane Foundation.