San Francisco (April 29, 2018) – Laura Bush has received one of the highest honors bestowed by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Achievement Medal. Presented at the GCA’s annual meeting here this evening, the medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and in tribute to creative vision and ability in the interpretation and furtherance of the aims of the GCA.
Commending her “lifelong efforts in conservation, education and stewardship,” GCA President Anne Neal Petri observed that, “Through her presence on state, national and international stages, Mrs. Bush has been a force for preservation of the environment. From the launch of Preserve America in 2003, a federal initiative to encourage and support community efforts to preserve and enjoy cultural and natural heritage, to her most recent work supporting the national parks, establishing a native Texan urban park at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and founding Texan by Nature, Mrs. Bush advances the preservation of natural resources for future generations.”
During her tenure as First Lady (2001-09), Mrs. Bush implemented and supported many environmental initiatives. In addition to Preserve America, she helped launch a marine debris initiative, educating on the importance of recycling and trash disposal and fostering efforts to clean up waterways and oceans. She served as honorary co-chairman of the Find Your Park campaign, part of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) 2016 centennial celebration. Mrs. Bush actively has promoted First Bloom, a hands-on National Park Foundation program that teaches children about environmental stewardship, and the Junior Ranger Program, a program for young park visitors. In May 2016, she and daughter Jenna Bush Hager co-authored Our Great Big Backyard, a picture book commemorating the NPS centennial and the importance and fun of connecting with nature.
In Texas, working with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mrs. Bush restored 120 acres of native prairie at the Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, creating a wetland habitat and native Texas tree farm. Many trees from the farm have been donated to state and local parks, as well as to private landowners.
As chairman of the design committee for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, she was instrumental in the environmentally conscious design of the building and grounds. It was the first presidential center to earn platinum certification for new construction, the highest level in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
The 15-acre park surrounding the presidential center reflects the Bush’s love of the native Texas prairie and is landscaped entirely with native Texan trees and other native plantings. Included in the design of the park are nearly nine acres of native lawns, a stacked stone seep that serves as an outfall for water collected from the parking lot and native lawns, a network of bioswales that collect and filter rainwater through a special collection of grasses, sedges and planting soils, a wildflower meadow featuring bluebonnets, evening primrose and Texas paintbrush and a wet prairie whose 250,000-gallon cistern is reused for irrigation.
In 2011, Mrs. Bush founded Texan by Nature, a consortium of 40-plus organizations that aligns the broad interests of conservation groups with business, industry, healthcare, schools and faith-based communities. Recent achievements include the establishment of the Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center and the expansion of the I-20 Wildlife Preserve. Of particular note is the Monarch Wrangler program which helps teach businesses, schools and other organizations how to create habitats essential to the monarch butterfly. In 2013, Mrs. Bush also helped launch the first-ever statewide Natural Resource/Environmental Literacy Plan designed to teach the importance and benefits of experiencing nature firsthand.
Mrs. Bush is the wife of George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States. Previous GCA honors include a 2014 GCA Club Civic Improvement Commendation and a 2015 GCA Zone IX Civic Improvement Commendation, both for her environmental accomplishments at the presidential center.
The GCA Achievement Medal was first presented in 1932 to Elizabeth Martin for her inspiration and creative vision in forming the GCA and stimulating the garden club movement in the United States. The medal was designed that year by U.S. sculptor Paul Manship, who was at the peak of fame for creating his large public commission of Prometheus for Rockefeller Center. The medal was presented by Mrs. Henry Osborn Taylor, Middletown Garden Club, Connecticut, and was endowed in 1963 by a member of the Garden Club of Somerset Hills, New Jersey. Past winners have included Eloise Payne Luquer (1939), Mrs. Francis B. Crowninshield (1950) and Francis H. Cabot (2006). Mrs. Bush was nominated for the medal by the Founders Garden Club of Dallas, member of the GCA.
The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 200 clubs with nearly 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States. Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement. (www.gcamerica.org)
CONTACT: Jennifer Barnette Cohen
The Garden Club of America