Iowa Innovation Award

Iowa Innovation Award

The Des Moines Water Works Iowa Innovation award was established in 2022 and recognizes and individual who has made a positive impact on planet earth with an emphasis on displaying the core values of the park foundation. Nominees exhibit the park foundation’s vision and mission through their work by fostering stewardship for clean water and nature.

Each year nominated individuals are voted on by the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation. Our Inaugural recipient, Clair Patterson, was recognized in September 2022. Patterson was able to age the earth and was primarily responsible for removing lead from paint, gasoline, food containers, and water distribution systems.

2022 Iowa Innovation Award Winner:
Clair Patterson

“The Most Important Scientist You’ve Never Heard Of” – Lucas Reilly

Clair Cameron Patterson (June 2, 1922 – December 5, 1995) was an American geochemist. Born in Mitchellville, Iowa, Patterson graduated from Grinnell College. He later received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and spent his entire professional career at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Patterson helped galvanize the environmental movement 50 years ago when he announced that highly toxic lead could be found essentially everywhere on Earth, including in our own bodies—and that very little of it was due to natural causes.

2023 Iowa Innovation Award Winner:
David Hurd

Born in Chicago, Dave moved to Des Moines in 1954, found work at (then) Bankers Life, fell in love with the city and soon adopted it as home.  During his forty-year career at the Principal, he learned from respected mentors the importance of community activism and contributing to causes that improve the quality of life for all.  As his business career matured, he became interested in the growth of Des Moines and immersed himself in helping make that growth happen. He believed his purpose in life was to try to make the world a better place, whether by picking up debris, or raising funds for worthwhile causes, or making donations from his own funds, or building networks of friends and acquaintances to have a stronger, more successful community.  He lived his life to those ends.

As an active and respected businessman Dave, along with a few other community leaders, began to talk about Des Moines as a World Class City in the late 80’s.  People started to take notice.  As he took his company international, his increased opportunities to travel fueled his vision for Des Moines even more.  He contributed enormous time and treasure toward reaching that goal for the next 25+ years.

Dave loved all things in and about nature.  Canoeing, rowing, camping, and exploring remained among his favorite pastimes.  Clean water, outdoor recreation & education, saving the environment, restoring prairies, creating opportunities for increased health and wellness for employees at Principal were just some of his passions.   He was an avid runner and biker, especially through Water Works Park.  The ideas for increased use of the park for all citizens such as opportunities for paddle boarding, more recreation and enjoyment of the outdoors, chances to be near a river and learn about utilization of our critical water sources, places for families and friends to gather and relax, new areas to walk, jog, roller blade – all this excited him.  He knew these were some of the key ingredients for a World Class City.   

The Hurd Visionaries, recognizing $10,000 contributors to the Foundation, was based on Dave’s habit of wearing interesting lapel pins.  His purpose was to quietly engage in conversation about the environment.  When asked about a pin he would say: It’s just a reminder that we are all responsible for the smallest living thing.