Westfield, Iowa — Once nicknamed the “Invisible Man”, Dave Hurd shied away from public acclaim while successfully leading thousands as CEO and Chairman of a billion dollar Des Moines insurance giant. Long-since retired from The Principal, the 84-year old‘s quiet determination is now focused on leading conservation efforts of Iowa’s remaining grasslands.
Twenty years after donating $500,000 to The Nature Conservancy in Iowa to acquire the first 642 acres of Iowa’s largest remaining native prairie, Hurd and his wife, Trudy, have started a $500,000 endowment fund to help continue the conservation of the now 3,217-acre Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve.
“The Kettle has been here for 10,000 years, but if it isn’t properly protected, it will succumb to development,” said Hurd. “The value it now brings would be lost. That’s why my gift puts emphasis on maintenance of this historic landscape.”
With most of the nation’s original tallgrass prairie gone, Broken Kettle is part of the planet’s most endangered and least protected natural community.
“Dave’s gift and vision were a significant step in the protection of this native piece of Iowa and a giant step for conservation in the state,” said Scott Moats, director of stewardship for the Conservancy.
Located just north of Sioux City in Plymouth County, Broken Kettle is The Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Iowa and is at the core of conservation efforts in the Loess Hills. It’s also home to many plant and animal species, including native prairie, American bison, the black billed magpie and the prairie rattlesnake.
“There is enormous diversity in this living landscape,” said Hurd. “Just a small piece of land measuring a few square feet is occupied by 100 to 200 species of grasses, flowers and insects.”
To honor the Hurds for their gifts and continued support, TNC held a dedication at the 2013 Broken Kettle Grassland’s anniversary celebration, naming the area around Visitor’s Center “Dave and Trudy Hurd’s Prairie.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.