Dr. Tom Eddy was a professor at Emporia State University, where he taught for more than 50 years. He has devoted his life to teaching others to appreciate and understand the ecology and biodiversity in the Flint Hills. Dr. Eddy is known for his willingness to help others with plant identification and prairie appreciation. His work has floristic studies on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, Kansas.
“Interpretation of the history and ecology of the tallgrass prairie provides insights not only into the dynamics of prairie life but teaches us how we can better understand our own lives,” Eddy said.
2020 - Emily Connell & Annie Wilson
Emily Connell, Annie Wilson, and the Flint Hills Map & Education Program were recognized on October 24th as the 2020 Friend of the Flint Hills by the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation. These two dedicated Flint Hills community members provided key leadership to the creation and development of the Flint Hills Map & Education Program, which placed maps in schools and institutions throughout the region. In 2018, the program was recognized with the “Award for Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education” from the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education.
Marty Vanier was recognized as the 2019 Friend of the Flint Hills by the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Marty and the Vanier Family have been wonderful examples of giving back to a community, a region and a state. Marty’s philanthropic interests in the Flint Hills Discovery Center and the Flint Hills region plus a variety of other nonprofits makes a positive impact on people’s lives.
“Marty and her late husband Bob Krause were the first to provide a generous gift to the Foundation, recognizing the fundamental role of the city in creating the Discovery Center, and that gift was acknowledged with the naming of the Horizon Ranch Immersive Experience Theater,” Bruce Snead, President of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation, said. “Marty’s support of the Foundation, and her recent gift, which will expand and enhance the projection system of the theater, add to what will be a unique legacy of actions to preserve the Flint Hills.”
The Discovery Center and Foundation will be forever indebted to Marty for her vision and initiatives in support of our mission together to sustain the Flint Hills in all of its rich dimensions.
2018 - Scott and Carol Ritchie
This year, the Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2018 recipients are Scott and Carol Ritchie of Wichita, KS.
The Foundation is pleased to recognize the Ritchies for their promotion of sustainable range management practices and their desire to protect the Flint Hills Region from invasive development.
They have also supported a variety of nonprofits which utilize and advocate for the Flint Hills.
“Scott and Carol Ritchie have spent most of their adult lives enjoying the great national treasure that is the Flint Hills,” Bruce Snead, President of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation, said.
Scott and Carol Ritchie were honored at the annual recognition event on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan.
2017 - Symphony in the Flint Hills
"The Symphony in the Flint Hills was chosen as the 2017 recipient because of the twelve year history of great concerts and educational programs that have brought significant attention to the treasures and pleasures of the Flint Hills,” Bruce Snead, President of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation, said.
The Foundation is pleased to recognize all those who have created and supported the Symphony in the Flint Hills and their contributions to the Flint Hills with this award.
“It is difficult to overestimate the value and impact the Symphony has had in growing the appreciation and knowledge of our Flint Hills, not only here in Kansas but truly around the world,” Snead said.
2016 - Nancy Kassebaum Baker
The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation recognized Nancy Kassebaum Baker as the “2016 Friend of the Flint Hills," on Saturday night April 16, 2016. The award honors significant time, effort and resources devoted to the cause of conserving the Flint Hills of Kansas and northern Oklahoma and to the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
Kassebaum’s love of Kansas and the Flint Hills region was exemplified by her efforts along with that of others in the establishment of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, KS in 1996. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.
Kassebaum served three terms representing the state of Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1979-1997. She returned to her permanent home in the Flint Hills in 2014 following the death of her husband, former U. S. Senator Howard Baker.
2015 - Jim and Cathy Hoy
Jim and Cathy Hoy are longtime residents and defenders of the Flint Hills. Jim was raised on a small ranch, the Flying H, in northeast Butler County near Cassoday. Cathy grew up on a dairy farm near Chanute. Their personal dedication to the conservation and preservation of the Flint Hills is demonstrated by a conservation easement on their family land near Cassoday with the Ranchland Trust of Kansas, thus ensuring that the Flying H will remain a grassland in perpetuity.
"The Hoys truly embody what it means to be a Friend of the Flint Hills," said Bruce Snead, President of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation. "In through, word and action they demonstrate a life-long stewardship of the special place we seek to preserve, and a clear dedication to the mission of the Flint Hills Discovery Center. We are so pleased to recognize their achievements with this award."
2014 - Kansas State University
K-State is being recognized for its contributions to the last remaining tallgrass prairie in North America. "Kansas State University is receiving the award for its multi-dimensional contributions to the Flint Hills through research, education and engagement activities," said Bruce Snead, Director of Engineering Extension at Kansas State University and President of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation.
" There is no doubt that K-State and those affiliated with it have performed many services for the Flint Hills Discovery Center and have been a significant resource on the importance of the ecology, history and culture of the Flint Hills," Snead said.
" As part of Kansas State University's land-grant heritage, we are dedicated to engaging with our region, state and surroundings," Kirk Schulz, president, said. "This kind of research and scholarly activity is crucial to our goal of becoming a Top 50 Public Research University by 2025. We are honored that the Flint Hills Discovery Center is recognizing our contributions to the land and culture around us."
2013 - Brian Obermeyer
Director of the Nature Conservancy's Flint Hills Initiative recognized for his work with ranchers, landowners, and other stakeholders to help preserve the biological integrity of the Flint Hills.
2012 - Jane Koger
Flint Hills rancher, recognized for her vision, leadership and efforts to preserve the Flint Hills.