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Garden Club Award to Senior Fellow

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 20, 2015

Robert McCracken Peck has received one of the highest honors bestowed annually by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Sarah Chapman Francis Medal.  The award, presented to Peck at the GCA’s annual meeting here this evening, recognizes outstanding literary achievement. 

Peck, Senior Fellow at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is a writer, naturalist and historian who has traveled extensively in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.  In honoring Peck, the GCA observed that “his books, lectures and scholarly work have encouraged preservation of the natural and human treasures about which he writes so passionately.”  The Garden Workers, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, member of the GCA, nominated Peck for the award.

Peck is the author of A Celebration of Birds: The Life and Art of Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1982), Headhunters and Hummingbirds: An Expedition into Ecuador (1987) and William Bartram’s Travels (1980), and he is co-author of All In The Bones: A Biography of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (2008) and A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science (2012).  He has written for a wide range of popular and scholarly magazines and newspapers, including Nature, Audubon, National Wildlife, International Wildlife, Arts, Antiques, Image, Terra, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times.

Peck’s explorations have traced travel routes of several 18th- and 19th-century naturalists, including John James Audubon, William Bartram, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau.  Peck has participated in research expeditions on behalf of The Academy of Natural Sciences to Botswana, Ecuador, Guyana, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Siberia, South Africa and Venezuela.

Peck has served as a guest curator for and consultant to numerous U.S. museums and libraries and has lectured widely at home and abroad.  He has also provided content and commentary for television, radio and film documentaries on topics ranging from the history of science to the history of art.

Peck has been honored by The Academy of Natural Sciences, the Explorers Club and other organizations for his contributions to exploration and the interpretation of natural history through his many lectures and publications.  He is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia.

Deeming Peck a “keen observer, nonjudgmental scientist and gentle man,” the GCA remarked that “his special interest in the overlap of science, art and the humanities unites with his gift of understanding how delicate political, social and environmental elements affect civilizations in fragile habitats.”

The Sarah Chapman Francis Medal was endowed in 1964 by Mrs. Otis Cook Stanton, Garden Club of Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Lewis Witherbee Francis, member-at-large of the GCA.  The medal was created by sculptor Allison Macomber based upon a design by club member Susanne S. Underwood.  Previous recipients have included Edwin Way Teale (1965), the Sierra Club (1968), Frances Perry (1973), John Henry Dick (1984) and Ken Druse (2004).

The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 201 clubs with some 18,000 members who devote their energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States.  Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement.  (

Contact Jennifer Barnette, The Garden Club of America, 212.753.8292,