City Club’s Annual Turtle Awards were started by teacher-turned-realtor Jean Tate, an original Eugene City Club Board member. The first Turtle Award Committee included her colleagues on that founding board, Gerry Gaydos and Bob Moulton. This committee chooses Turtle recipients, who are then approved pro forma by the City Club Board. Since 1991, the committee has consisted of the original members plus all subsequent award recipients. John Van Landingham was chosen as the first recipient of the Turtle Award. The Turtle Award Committee also established the Order of the Turtle, for people who significantly influenced the city before they died. Maurie Jacobs was the first honoree.
John Van Landingham has chaired the Turtle committee since 1994, when he was a City Club Board member. The Turtles meet annually in February and choose one to three recipients. They then work with the board and program committee to decide upon presenters. The Turtle Award program occurs at the City Club Annual Meeting in May, and awardees must be present to win.
The criteria for selecting Turtles are:
- Fostering creative problem solving in Eugene’s public affairs
- Stimulating constructive action
- Forging cooperative relationships
- Honoring diverse perspectives
- Sticking one’s neck out for the good of the community
This year, the Turtles Committee identified a theme, Youth and the Future, and selected awardees who have excelled in areas that benefit and highlight youth. This year also marks the first time a Turtle Award will be given to a group: Our Children’s Trust.
Nancy Golden, former Superintendent of Springfield Schools and Oregon Chief Education Officer, will present the award to Derek Johnson, for his leadership in saving the Civic Stadium site and getting Civic Park’s new athletic fields and health buildings funded and built.
Jean Tate, former First Citizen of Eugene, and Brittany Quick Warner, CEO of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, will present the award to Kaarin Knudson, for her leadership in creating the unusual coalition of interest groups called Better Housing Together and for her advocacy with the City of Eugene, Lane County, and the state for more housing and for funding for affordable housing.
Kitty Piercy, former state representative and mayor of Eugene, will present the award to Our Children’s Trust, represented by attorney Julia Olson and Kiran Oommen, one of the plaintiffs. Our Children’s Trust is a youth-driven, global climate recovery campaign to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere.
City Club Members will vote via email for President-elect and five members of the Board of Directors. The winners will be announced on the broadcast.
This program will be aired on City Club’s Facebook and YouTube pages and on its website, beginning at noon on May 8. The program may also air on KLCC (89.7 FM), on Monday, May 11, at 7:00 pm, if Covid-19 programming permits.