25th Annual Eddy Awards - Presented May 2nd, 2024

Every year at River Action's annual Fish & Fire Friendraiser and Fundraiser we acknowledge those who act as an eddy - "going against the current" to accomplish excellence on the Mississippi River in the areas of art, design, revitalization, river activity, education and stewardship in our community with Eddy Awards.

See how the Eddy Awards are created. CLICK HERE for a video on the forging and constructing of the individual awards given the eddy winners.

2023's Eddy Award Winners

Revitilization - Scott Beck & Brian Woods

  • If anything needed a facelift, it was 325 2nd St. in Davenport, and with vision and savvy, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, award winning movie makers, made it happen. Constructed in 1895, the now stunning Last Picture House movie theater was earlier an auto mechanic shop, car dealer, marine center, furniture store and pawn shop. Asked what the biggest challenge was, Scott answered, “The architectural decisions. We wanted something that would make Los Angeles jealous. Our designers, Parragon Design and Twin Shores brought it back to life preserving the form of the building and the place it holds in the historic district.” Wanting to take advantage of views of the Mississippi River, Bechtel Park, and the Arsenal Bridge led them to developing the rooftop lounge, a place for gatherings and movies. The renovation that led to the Last Picture House has had a transformative impact on the way the neighborhood sees and serves itself. Besides breathing life into an old building, they are promoting the art of filmmaking, community building, and economic development in the hometowns they love.

River Activity - QC Health Initiative and Bi-State Regional Commission

  • Bi-State is the map maker-- QC Health Initiative is the excitement maker. Together they host a website that promotes hundreds of trails and outdoor Nicole Carkner activity in the Quad Cities. Nicole Carkner, Executive Director of the Initiative, sounded the alarm after a QC health assessment about childhood obesity and mental health concerned area health officials. She saw that her program, Be Healthy QC’s, partnering with a trail initiative such 2024 as QC Trails.org, could address the problem. Bi-State, already handling the technical demands of mapping, assistance to cities in finding funds for trails, and the intricacies of maintaining the trails website, welcomed assistance with Facebook posts to further engage the public in trail activities. Updates on conditions of the trails come from local governments; these are posted also. It is a one-stop shop offering tools to keep track of all one’s trail adventures plus information about surface, difficulty, and elevation of paths. That’s when the Initiative starts describing the fun. Denise Bulat, Executive Director, Bi-State Regional Commission, describes it as the perfect collaboration.This association of health, economic, environmental, and social benefits are all within reach of a keystroke on QC Trails.org. and joining friends on the trails will make for a healthier Quad Cities. We have the QC Health Initiative and Bi-State Regional Commission to thank for it.

Education - Kelly McKay

  • Already admired as a champion for eagles, this year he is spreading across Iowa with Building Better Birders 1–2-day workshops. Kelly McKay is the embodiment of our conscience reminding us how to treat our wildlife with care. His clear minded call for the planet is one we should hear. He’s earned his authority on the national stage with papers written, talks given, and workshops presented for over 30 years. Now, faced with climate change, he hopes to create citizen scientists of us all. Funded through Iowa’s REAP program, last year alone he and his team created 1,086 new citizen scientists in Iowa working with county conservation boards. After Iowa, it is on to Illinois. Believing birding is the vehicle for engaging people in activities such as Owl Prowls, and Bird Calling, he asks that they send observational data back to him for the research he is doing on bird extinction. Every generation has people who inspire subsequent generations. Kelly has the potential to be that for people who will work in environmental science. We have not seen the end of his contributions.

Art - Musco Sports Lighting & The City of Muscatine

  • Melding art, architecture and music into perfect concert with one another on the Norbert F. Beckley Memorial Bridge was a Christmastime delight in Muscatine last year. A collaboration of Musco Lighting and the City of Muscatine resulted in a choreographed display, part theatre, part dance, part painting, but mostly just cool. It was forged by some incredible artists and engineers from Musco Lighting, Muscatine Power and Water, Stanley Consultants, Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the City of Muscatine. Inspired by Leadership Muscatine, Class of 2005, to install the initial, colored lighting, the team’s decision to do more came from Pat Cooley, software manager, who envisioned choreographing light to music. The biggest challenge was adapting to the movement of the bridge while putting conduit in place. But the public who crowded the park below came and stayed for the changing colors and variety of music, sometimes for two or three presentations. With the popularity of the show, organizers are looking to expand to other holidays. We can’t wait to see what they will do next.

Stewardship - Mary Lind

  • In 2003, tired of seeing so many unhappy gardens on her Ben Butterworth Parkway walks, Mary Lind couldn’t help herself and began deadheading and weeding on her strolls. She then enlisted the help of her book club, promising they would only have to take care of three of the flower beds. In 2008, Mary created the Garden Guardians program through Keep Moline Beautiful. To help the city with the care of the many gardens, she planted signs that asked, “Would you like to adopt this garden?” During COVID, when park maintenance had to be reduced, Mary wrote a letter to the editor asking for help. Her initiatives resulted in all 17 gardens being adopted. It’s one thing to see a problem; it is quite another to actually change things and inspire others to come along. Initiating anything and everything in her power to be of service to the Garden Guardians merits Mary Lind an Eddy Award for going against the current to achieve excellence on the riverfront.

Stewardship - Ducks Unlimited

  • Flooded land was seen as damaged not that long ago, but Ducks Unlimited has shown us the power of flipping an assumption on its head. They have shown us through their work that flooded land is worth investing in; it becomes a savior, and the disadvantages of it become advantages. This nonprofit organization advocates on the national stage for responsible stewardship for flooded land. Their investments in restoring wetlands are redefining the role of activism in business and investment. On the Mississippi alone they have worked on bottomland restoration, flood plain conservation easements, Iowa nutrient reduction, prairie pothole protection and restoration, rice stewardship, and coastal wetland restoration. This year, they will work with the City of Bettendorf on the Duck Creek floodplain and with the Upper Mississippi River and Towns Initiative on curbing Mississippi River flooding on several tributaries. With multiple partners, they will deliver in-field and edge-of-field practices for producers in Scott County, hoping to cover 11,500 acres over 5 years with Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding of $6 million and a $2 million contribution from Ducks Unlimited. Their project management, funding, and advocacy is ensuring a greener future for our communities and the nation.

Special Recognition - Jeff Nelson

  • Jeff Nelson always seems to be 10 years ahead of everybody else. He has a clear vision and pragmatic insights on transit, sustainability, and community building. Add to that the grit and determination to stick with his vision for long periods of time—like 40 years— and you know why we are celebrating his distinguished career as CEO of MetroLink with a Special Recognition Eddy Award. Championing sustainability and inclusivity alongside growth, MetroLink, through his leadership, has not only broadened its services, but also had a deeply positive societal impact using technology to solve pressing issues. Working with the Mayor of Moline, he drew negotiated agreements with new big box stores that mandate accommodations for transit and reduced parking. In the 1980’s, he went to clean-burning diesel fuel in his fleet, then to compressed natural gas, and now to battery electric becoming the first transit district in Illinois and the Midwest to implement such a bus program. He always finds good policies which are environmentally and economically sound anticipating the future and actively working to shape it for the better. Equal parts visionary and pragmatist, Je and his team have pursued some of the most complex problems and accelerated the delivery of new technology in transit stations he has built. District Station is LEED certified, and the Operations and Maintenance Center in Rock Island is one of the most sustainable transit facilities in the nation. Public transit in a place built for cars is a really difficult problem, but tackling challenges are just opportunities to Jeff. Building the Channel Cat service to three water taxis and adding three new docks with another planned for The Bend in 2025 has made ferrying loved by locals as well as tourists. There have always been two kinds of innovators; those who have brilliant ideas, and those who keep having them. Jeff is in the second group. He makes it look easy to acquire state and federal grants, build support among dynamic local leaders, and create a sense of pride of place so strong the momentum is catching. We don’t know how he does it, but we hope he continues with it!

Past Eddy Award Winners


  • 2000: John Bald/John Bloom, “Waiting for the Ferry”
  • 2001: Kunhild Blacklock, “The Gathering Place”
  • 2002: Ted McElhiney, “Sunday in the Park”
  • 2003: Quad City Arts, “Face the River”
  • 2004: Buffalo School, Mississippi Mosaic
  • 2005: On The River Magazine
  • 2006: Moline, Bass Street Landing
  • 2007: Ballet QC, “One River Mississippi”
  • 2008: Artist’s Advisory Council, “Mississippi River Pallette”
  • 2009: Dick Stahl, river inspired poetry
  • 2010: Quad City Symphony, Riverfront Pops
  • 2011: Julie Malake, Photography & Words
  • 2012: Sierra Club, Environmental Film Fest
  • 2013: Joe Taylor, East West Riverfest
  • 2014: Barb Sandberg & Terri Smith, “Moline City of Mills” mural
  • 2014: Lawrence Bay, “Will B Rolling” sculpture
  • 2015: Mississippi Valley Blues Society, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
  • 2016: Pat Stolley & Josh Rose, Supporting Art in the QC
  • 2016: Richard Bittner—Bechtel Trusts “Lincoln with Boy on Bridge”
  • 2017: Heidi Brandt, "Art meets the River" Calendar
  • 2018: QC Symphony, Joined by a River Season
  • 2019: Chuck Oestreich, River Stages Play Series
  • 2020: Brad Bisbey


  • 2000: RENEW Moline, John Deere Commons
  • 2001: Iowa-American Water Company, renovations of East River Station on River Drive
  • 2002: Davenport, Centennial Park
  • 2003: The Mark of the Quad Cities
  • 2004: QC Rowing Assn, Sylvan Boat House design
  • 2005: Rock Island, Centennial Bridge Infield
  • 2006: DavenportOne, River Music Experience; Sky Bridge; and Figge Art Museum
  • 2007: Davenport Police Station Green Roof
  • 2008: “It’s On The River” Restaurant
  • 2009: Rock Island Renaissance & Illinois EPA, McKesson Building Green Roof
  • 2010: Rock Island, Schwiebert Riverfront Park
  • 2011: Genesis Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Lohmuller, Green Roof
  • 2012: Western IL University Riverfront Campus
  • 2013: Bill Ashton, Bridge Engineering/Design
  • 2013: Rodney Blackwell, KONE Center
  • 2015: IA DOT, I-74 Pedestrian & Bike Trail
  • 2016: Zachary Peterson, River Hertiage Park
  • 2017: Dr. Joe Rives, Western Illinois University Quad City Campus
  • 2018: City of Dubuque, Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project
  • 2019: MetroLink, Metro Operations and Maintenance Center
  • 2020: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, Brian Laufenberg
  • 2021: Brad Martell and the R Richard Bittner YMCA
  • 2022: Mike & Kim Whalen/Heart of America Group, Axis Hotel
  • 2023: Greg Smith, DWHS, Bringing clean water to Kenya


  • 2000: Dianne Brugge, Environmental Club
  • 2001: Roald Tweet for “Rock Island Lines” and writing the history of the Corps of Engineers
  • 2002: Earl Hanson School, River Days
  • 2003: Advanced Technology Environmental Education for “Brownfields in a Box” program
  • 2004: Shaney Ford, Academy of Environmental Ed
  • 2005: Chuck Oestreich
  • 2006: Matt Hammil, WQAD TV River News
  • 2007: Father Bud Grant, Environmental Club
  • 2008: Cal Werner, support of Nahant Marsh
  • 2009: Dr. Norm Moline & Dr. Charles Mahaffey
  • 2010: Brian Ritter, Nahant Marsh Education Center
  • 2011: Ballet QC, “The Ugly Duckling”
  • 2012: Kristen Bergren, Author & Educator
  • 2013: John Riches, Alcoa EagleCam/Education
  • 2014: Robbin Dunn, K-12 curriculum & Watershed Festival
  • 2015: Ellis Kell, Community Outreach Education
  • 2016: Mark Roberts, Mississippi River EcoTourism Center Naturalist-guided cruises on the Miss. River
  • 2016: Lisa Whalen, Environmental Education and Outreach
  • 2017: Shifra Gassner, Joni Nelson, and Gail Heninger, Environmental Education and Outreach
  • 2018: Dave Murcia, Wapsi River Environmental Education Center
  • 2019: Alma Gaul, The Great River
  • 2019: Jack Cullen, The Great River
  • 2020: Eric Sorensen, WQAD-TV8 Meteorologist and Climatologist
  • 2021: Beth Carvey and Tom Willcockson
  • 2022: Chuck Wester, Retired Black Hawk State Historic Site
  • 2023: Laura McCreery, North High Green Team


  • 2000: Moline Park Board, Ben Butterworth Memorial Parkway
  • 2001: Heart of America Restaurants & Inns, Heart of America building
  • 2002: RI Economic Growth Corporation, riverfront lofts
  • 2003: Riverstone Group, Moline industrial site & Rock Island path bridge
  • 2004: Abbey Station, Union Station & Freighthouse for renovation and reuse
  • 2005: East Moline, The Quarter
  • 2006: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and MidAmerican Energy, Milan Bottoms
  • 2007: Doug Reynolds, The Quarter & REDEEM
  • 2008: Bechtel Trusts and Downtown Davenport Partnership Assoc., Bechtel Park
  • 2009: RI Centennial Bridge Visitors Center
  • 2010: Rock Island, Hydroelectric Plant
  • 2011: Restoration St. Louis, Blackhawk Hotel and Forrest Block Restoration
  • 2012: Brian Hollenback, RI Economic Growth
  • 2013: Dave Schaefer/Davenport North Art Students & Kit Sayles/Davenport Central Art Students for repainting “Sunday in the Park” art sculptures
  • 2014: Paul Rumler, Amtrak Chicago to QC Rail Initiative
  • 2015: Karen Anderson & Charlie Heston, LeClaire, House Renovations & Programs
  • 2016: Jeff Nelson, MetroLINK, The Locks/District Station
  • 2016: Brian Hollenback, Renaissance Rock Island, The Locks/District Station
  • 2017: Y&J Properties, Downtown Davenport
  • 2018: Maria Ontiveros, Mercado on Fifth
  • 2018: Anissa Wanat, Global Communities, Floreciente Neighborhood
  • 2019: German American Heritage Center
  • 2020: The Bend, Tim Knanishu
  • 2020: Hauberg Gardens, Deb Kuntzi
  • 2023: Brian Dockery, RiverStone Group, Renew Moline Projects

River Activity

  • 2000: Great River Trail Council, GRT
  • 2001: Quad City Marathon
  • 2002: MetroLINK, Channel Cat
  • 2003: Lake Davenport Sailing Club, regattas, Sailing School, and family activities
  • 2004: Bettendorf Park Board, Eagles Landing and Boat Launch Area
  • 2005: Grand Excursion 2004 Board of Directors
  • 2006: Bettendorf Parks and Recreation, the Riverfront Trail
  • 2007: Rock Island, “Get On Board”
  • 2008: Rock Island, Rock Island Arsenal, and Bi-State, ADT Trail Crossing
  • 2009: Race Committee & Quad-City Times, Bix 7 Road Race
  • 2010: Friends of Off Road Cycling, Sylvan Island Trails
  • 2011: The Loop Transit System
  • 2012: Kevin Kernan, Princeton Outdoor Adventures
  • 2014: Mike Wennekamp, Adaptive Rowing Program; Greg Albansoder, Credit Island Bridge
  • 2015: Dean Mathias, Bicycle Advocacy & Conservation
  • 2016: Mayor Sony Paddock, City of Riverdale, Mississippi River Trial
  • 2017: Tim Nelson, Tweed Ride
  • 2018: Greg Farnham and Frank Schier, Rock River Trails Initiative
  • 2019: Dave Heller, Main Street Baseball at Modern Woodmen Park
  • 2020: Buffalo Trail Committee, Jim Mathys
  • 2021: Carlos Barreto, QC Kayakers
  • 2022: Christina McDonough, Scott County Health Department
  • 2023: Chris Boar, Keep Muscatine Beautiful, Almost Thursday Fest


  • 2000: Chad Pregracke, Xstream Cleanup
  • 2001: Bald Eagle Days
  • 2002: Barb Arland-Fye, river newspaper coverage
  • 2003: Dr. R. Josef Hofmann, community activism for trails and clean water
  • 2004: Bob Bryant, Wapsi Environmental Center
  • 2005: St Ambrose University, management practices
  • 2006: RI, Stormwater Management Program
  • 2007: Curtis Lundy, Xsteam Cleanup, Save Our Streams, and IOWATER
  • 2008: Rock Island, Sylvan Slough Natural Area; Dr. Mike Giudici, Greenway Habitat
  • 2009: Sylvan Island Dreamers, Island Park
  • 2010: Jerry Neff
  • 2011: Fritz Fuhs, river clean-up /AMP Organization
  • 2012: City of Bettendorf, Stormwater Projects
  • 2013: Joe Pennings, Lafarge Renewable Fuel System
  • 2014: Kathy Morris, iLive Here QC & Recycling
  • 2015: Tony Singh, Walk for the Bees Project
  • 2016: Tim Huey, Lost Grove Lake Conservation
  • 2016: Brian Parkinson, Agricultural Conservation and Practices
  • 2017: Art Norris, Pollution Cleanup at Green River
  • 2017: Nahant Marsh Education Center
  • 2017: Blackhawk Township, Hennepin Canal Restoration
  • 2018: Robb and Jennifer Ewoldt, Best Management Practices in Agriculture
  • 2019: Quad City Audubon Society, 50 Years of Eagle Watching
  • 2019: Olivia Dorothy, American Rivers Leadership
  • 2020: Amy Kay, City of Davenport, Clean Water Manager
  • 2021: Partners of Scott County Watershed
  • 2021: Kelly McKay
  • 2022: Melisa Jacobsen, Lower Wapsi River Annual Cleanup
  • 2022: Kraig McPeek/USFWS, I-74 Mussel Relocation Project
  • 2023: Jeff Craver, Amowa preserve development

Special Recognition

  • 2008: Mark Beorkrem, In Memoriam
  • 2010: Paddy Blackman, Public Access
  • 2012: Sally Heffernan, RI City Planner
  • 2014: Ann Breen & Dick Rigby, Creative Collaborations
  • 2014: Tom Wine, Volunteer
  • 2015: Steve DuPron, Volunteerism & RTR Support
  • 2016: William Gluba, River Advocacy
  • 2016: Tom & Pat Bolton, Organization and Leadership
  • 2016: Walt Bassow, Ride the River Barge Transport
  • 2017: Tracy Dvorak, Volunteerism
  • 2018: Reggie McCloud, 25th Year of "Big River Magazine"
  • 2018: Dave Hill, In Memoriam
  • 2020: Anthony Heddlesten
  • 2020: Roger Viadero, Ph.D.
  • 2022: Joe Moreno, Quad City Marathon
  • 2023: Ed Choate, LeClaire revival & development
  • 2023: Molly Newell, EnviroNET, Watershed planning & soil remediation

Lifetime Achievment

  • 2022: Bob Sinkler
  • 2023: Mark Schweibert

    Eddy Scholarship

    In 2019 we began awarding the Eddy Scholarship with funding from the Joyce and Tony Singh Family Foundation to students who display the qualities of the Eddy Awards. Our past winners include:

    • 2019: Emily Vintika, Black Hawk College
    • 2019: Nicolas Sierra, Black Hawk College
    • 2019: Amy Bandman
    • 2022: Noah Raso
    • 2022: Jack Hughes
    • 2022: Emma Duncan
    • 2023: Landen Freeman
    • 2023: Portia Carrera
    • 2023: Hannah Reynolds

    Click below to make a general donation to River Action via PayPal.


Contact Us

River Action, Inc.
822 E. River Drive
Davenport, Iowa 52803
Phone: (563) 322-2969
Email: riveraction@riveraction.org

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