Meeting President Obama in 2010. Credit: Pete Souza/White House
The award also gave Henning the opportunity to deliver a Earth Day speech in 2010 on the Washington Mall in front of 200,000 spectators.
Truth is, Henning became a figure on the national level before her job with SRAP began in January.
She's traveled the country giving speeches and has helped promote books and movies that probe the issue of land use, water use, farming ethics, and animal welfare - activity that hadn't even entered her mind while tending to her and her husband's corn and soybean farms.
Henning is like Lois Gibbs, North America's first Goldman Prize recipient in 1990: A housewife whose life was upended by others.
Gibbs is the former Niagara Falls housewife-turned-activist who spearheaded the landmark Love Canal investigation into toxic dumping by Hooker Chemical in upstate New York in the late 1970s, spurring federal community right-to-know laws and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund emergency cleanup program.
Michigan environmental regulators were at first skeptical of pollution issues Henning raised.
Eventually, they came around and took Vreba-Hoff to court with help from the Michigan attorney general's office.
The recognition vindicated Henning and her husband, who used to find dead possums and skunks stuffed in their mailbox.
Someone once blew up their mailbox.
Hate mail and phone calls with foul language were common. So was the creepy experience of being followed on quiet country roads in southeast Michigan — something that happened frequently enough that Ms. Henning began telling her local sheriff's office when she would be out.
Henning said she will continue to do volunteer work for the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club.
She also remains on the board of directors of the nonprofit advocacy group Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan — to which she donated some of her Goldman prize money. Other recipients, she said, are the Michigan Sierra Club, and the National Sierra Club Water Sentinels.