May 13th, 2020 @ 7:37 am | Author: Greg Vanney
Joe Stickler, Ph.D., professor emeritus of science at Valley City State University, received the Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation on May 4, 2020, as part of the 2020 Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards.

Stickler was cited for leading the development of Medicine Wheel Park in Valley City. Work on the park, which sits above a wooded hillside overlooking the main VCSU campus, began in 1992.

The 30-acre park features a medicine wheel — a large solar calendar derived from a Native American concept — along with a meridian calendar, a solar system model on a paved trail (the Path of the Planets, part of the North Country National Scenic trail), and a perennial garden (the Garden of the Sun). Five interpretive panels emphasize the park’s human connections to the Sheyenne Valley, the planet Earth, the solar system and the universe.

“Over a thousand students, VCSU employees, community members, and Friends of the Medicine Wheel created this park, said Stickler. ‘The Wheel’ is an extraordinary student project that went beyond the classroom walls. And it was my joy to work with all to create this park.”

Stickler retired at the end of spring semester 2013 after 30-plus years of teaching science at Valley City State. An engaging and intellectually demanding instructor, Stickler received the VCSU Teacher of the Year award four times—in 1991, 2004, 2008 and 2013.

Medicine Wheel Park attracts thousands of visitors annually, including solstice and equinox celebrations, school field trips, bus tours and family gatherings. Native American drummers and dancers have performed at the park frequently over the years, and several weddings have been held at the park as well.

More information about Stickler’s Trailblazer Award can be found online at Additional information about Medicine Wheel Park can be found at