Photo of Evie Kirkwood

EVIE KIRKWOOD

“I love seeing things move and become different or better.”

As a child in Central New York, Evie spent time participating in 4-H and Girl Scouts, “both organizations great for modeling values.”  Her participation helped foster her love of both sciences and the arts. She entered college like many young adults with a plan – to enter into genetics research. However, as with many plans, hers soon changed. As she sat in her first genetics class surrounded by 750 other students she looked around and thought “there’s more to life than just a few genes. There’s this whole great big wide open world to explore.” As a result she changed her plan of study to focus on natural resources with a goal of working as an interpretive naturalist.

Evie came to St. Joseph County as an intern with the St. Joseph County Parks and continued to spend most of her working career helping build a thriving county park system. In reflecting on her time here, she observed, “I’m obviously self-rewarded by just sharing these great natural resources with everybody.”

Her goal with the parks “was to broaden relationships with other organizations and people in the community.” She has accomplished this in many ways but perhaps most notably in the number of changes brought to the parks, including mountain bike trails at Bendix Woods County Park installed in collaboration with the Northern Indiana Mountain Bike Association, the University of Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility at St. Patrick’s County Park, dedicated to aquatic research and outreach, and community theatre at the Fischgrund Center for the Performing Arts at St. Patrick’s County Park produced in conjunction with South Bend Civic Theatre.

Evie has also emphasized the preservation of the history of the parks, particularly the “beautiful historic structures” at Bendix Woods and St. Patrick’s County Parks. For the future, Evie is embracing the challenge of “helping ensure these resources continue to be maintained through creative funding.”

“I’ve been blessed to be connected to the outdoors and blessed to share my love and passion for the outdoors with children, families, older adults, and toddlers.”

  • Spirit of Studebaker Award
  • South Bend Hall of Fame: Ideal Baldoni Award for Public Service
  • Henry Ferrettie Outstanding Public Employee Award
  • Lawson Award, IU Great Lakes Park Training Institute
  • Board of Regents, Great Lakes Park Training Institute
  • Board member, Hamilton Communities
  • Board member, WNIT Public Television
  • Past president, Women Business Owners of Michiana

Information compiled from oral history collected by The Michiana Women Leaders Project

Evie was honored at Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders 2016.