Founder of Earth Day Receives Coveted Olmsted Medal for Environmental Stewardship


WASHINGTON, DC—The Honorable Gaylord A. Nelson, United States Senator (D-WI) from 1963-1981 and founder of Earth Day, was presented the Olmsted Medal for his lifetime of environmental stewardship on Friday, January 10, 2003. The Olmsted Medal is the highest award presented annually by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) to an individual outside the profession of landscape architecture.

(l to r) Susan L. B. Jacobson, FASLA and
Senator Gaylord Nelson

During the medal presentation, ASLA Immediate Past President Rodney Swink, FASLA related a fond memory of Senator Nelson, "During an ASLA meeting in 1998, Senator Nelson said, 'The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. And when the environment has to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy because it is depleted, debased and ruined, then the economy will go with it.' That statement powerfully captured my beliefs, and it is a message that we should all understand." Past recipients of the Olmsted Medal include former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening.

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(l to r) Senator Gaylord Nelson and
Rodney L. Swink, FASLA

Senator Nelson was nominated by the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for his more than four decades of environmental leadership. His achievements safeguarding our planet include the establishment of Earth Day, the Outdoor Resources Action Program, and championing important environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Water Quality Act. Senator Nelson recently co-authored Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise, further exploring and giving definition to his life's work as an environmental advocate.

On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, Senator Nelson set forth a goal of "an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human creatures and for all living creatures." The Olmsted Medal is ASLA's recognition of Senator Nelson's lifelong commitment to that goal.

(l to r) Paul F. Morris, FASLA, Senator Gaylord Nelson, Mrs. Carrie Nelson, Rodney L. Swink, FASLA, and Nancy Somerville. 

The Olmsted Medal honors Frederick Law Olmsted, long acknowledged as the founder of American landscape architecture. A pioneer in his field, Olmsted championed the City Beautiful movement, and his notable work includes Central Park, the U.S. Capitol Grounds, Prospect Park, Chicago's Riverside subdivision, Buffalo's park system, and the Niagara Reservation at Niagara Falls.

Founded in 1899, the ASLA is the national professional association representing more than 13,500 members nationwide. Landscape architecture is a comprehensive discipline of land analysis, planning, design, management, preservation and rehabilitation. ASLA promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances the practice through advocacy, education, communication and fellowship. Downloadable, high-resolution JPG photographs of this event are available by right clicking on the included thumbnail images.


Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371