“Leave It Better Than You Found It”

Claude and bust

The “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award commemorates the August 18 birthday of the late benefactor Claude W. Ahrens. The program was initiated in August 1994 at the dedication of the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park and is funded by the Ahrens Foundation. In a 1993 speech to the National Recreation and Parks Association, Ahrens challenged those in attendance to follow the sage advice of his father John “to leave the world a better place than you found it.” Colleagues of Ahrens decided to encourage area residents to do the same and the effort was founded. The “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award recognizes local nonprofit organizations that have left a mark on the Grinnell community. To date, the annual program has honored more than 300 area individuals, groups and organizations.

Claude’s statue is located in the Ahrens Institute, Headquarters of the National Recreation & Parks Association, in Ashburn, VA.

Each year a call for nominations takes place during the month of July for the “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award. All Grinnell area nonprofit, social, civic, fraternal, and community groups making a difference in the local community are eligible to be nominated by the annual August 1 deadline. The winner of the “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award receives a $5,000 grant and traveling trophy as part of the Foundation’s annual recognition of area groups making a difference.

leave it better than you found it plaque