Mike Krebill, a pioneering naturalist and environmental educator, was honored with the 2022 Aldo Leopold Environmental Education Award at a Rotary meeting in Keokuk on Thursday. Krebill was presented the award by Clay Steele of Lee County Conservation, who had nominated him for the prestigious recognition. The award, officially titled “Aldo Leopold Environmental Education (EE) Award: For Lifetime Achievement in EE Excellence and Leadership,” pays tribute to the significant contributions made by individuals in environmental education.
Aldo Leopold, the namesake of the award, was a renowned conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. Born in 1887 and raised in Burlington, Iowa, Leopold is widely regarded as the father of wildlife ecology and the United States’ wilderness system. His influential concept of the “land ethic” encourages an ethical and caring relationship between people and nature.
Krebill’s dedication to environmental education began around 1969 when he became Iowa’s first naturalist in Black Hawk County. Despite his groundbreaking career, he had not been formally acknowledged for his achievements until now. “I nominated him for it since he was Iowa’s first naturalist but had not been formally acknowledged,” said Steele, who was thrilled to present the award to Krebill in person.
Originally, the award was supposed to be presented to Krebill at the spring Iowa Association of Naturalists workshop in Sioux County. However, he was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. Steele explained, “I called him to bring it down to him the other day, and he was just leaving for the Rotary program and invited me to come along. So that worked out!”
Krebill’s absence from the spring workshop was a first, as he had never missed a workshop until this year. Steele remarked on the irony of the situation, saying, “It’s sad that he’s been to every single one, except for the one where he is receiving such a prestigious award!” Nonetheless, the award presentation at the Rotary meeting provided a fitting opportunity to celebrate Krebill’s accomplishments.
Over the years, Mike Krebill has dedicated his life to fostering an appreciation for the natural world and promoting environmental stewardship. As a trailblazer in environmental education, his work has undoubtedly influenced countless others to develop a deeper understanding and respect for the environment.
The Aldo Leopold Environmental Education Award highlights the importance of environmental education and recognizes the vital role played by educators like Krebill in shaping the future of our planet. By following in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold, Krebill has helped to instill a land ethic in generations of Iowans, inspiring them to take action to protect and preserve the natural world.
This prestigious award serves as a testament to Mike Krebill’s lifetime of dedication and leadership in environmental education, as well as a reminder of the ongoing need for passionate educators to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.