WACD recognizes partners, employees during 71st annual convention
Riverton – As conservation leaders from around the state gathered in Riverton for the 71st Annual Convention, the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) took the opportunity to recognize those people who have been instrumental in the work of WACD over the past year.
Bob Budd of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust presided over the session, announcing each award winner for the year.
The most prestigious award presented at the banquet is the WACD Presidential Award.
This year, WACD President Shaun Sims said, “I am honored to present the 2016 Presidential Award to a couple that has done a tremendous amount for this Association for over 10 years. They epitomize the word service.”
The award was presented to Jack and Diana Berger of Saratoga. Jack’s term on the WACD Board ended this year, after he served as a supervisor for the Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins Conservation District since 2004.
From support at meetings and in hosting tours on their ranch to fundraising support and more, Sims said, “We are going to sorely miss Jack and Diana as Jack goes off of the local Saratoga district and the WACD Board. I hope they won’t disappear entirely, and this award is a very small token of our appreciation, not just for me but for all of us in the WACD family for all they have done for this organization.”
As Outstanding Elected Official, WACD recognized Joel Bousman for his efforts as a County Commissioner in Sublette County.
Since he was elected in 2007, Bousman has been important in his role as a county commissioner.
“Joel helped establish quarterly meetings with the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management State Director to develop relationships with top federal agency personnel in Washington, D.C.,” said Budd.
He added, “Joel works very hard to teach and help others follow a path of sustainable stewardship as evidenced by his education efforts in the Cooperative Permittee Monitoring and his active involvement in the myriad of policy-making committees which affect Wyoming’s ranching industry.”
Budd recognized the countless hours Bousman has dedicated to assisting Wyoming ag producers in the political arena, noting that his efforts have been instrumental in conservation work.
WACD also recognized Wyomingites who have worked with the organization, honoring Andy Warren of Rawlins BLM as Outstanding Conservationist and Scot and Kim Withers as Outstanding Small Acreage Cooperator.
During his 30-year career in the Rawlins BLM office Warren has “excelled in his performance and set a new standard by which all should aspire to achieve in the conservation of Wyoming’s natural resources,” read Budd.
“There are literally over 2 million acres of rangelands in Wyoming that Andy has worked with to improve range condition,” Budd continued. “Andy truly defines the terms conservationist, partner and friend of conservation districts and agriculture.”
The Withers’ 10-acre property east of Cheyenne has been developed with the help of WACD, starting with tree planting several years ago.
“Now, hundreds of trees later, with windbreak plantings, backyard habitat plantings and livestock protection planting, they hear the wind more than feel it,” Budd said. “Scot and Kim have also worked to diversify their grassland acreage as well.”
The Wyoming Livestock Roundup was announced as the Outstanding New Reporter for 2016. In addition to working with conservation districts to report on natural resource issues around the state, Publisher Dennis Sun was recognized for his participation as a landowner in several projects.
“Dennis’ background with natural resources give him the ‘in’ he needs to provide excellent coverage of natural resource issues in the Roundup,” said Budd.
Several WACD employees were honored for their work throughout the year. Katelyn Vaporis was recognized as Outstanding Technician, Anita Bartlett was honored as Outstanding Employee, and Brian Lovett received the Outstanding Supervisor Award.
Vaporis, of the Kaycee Field Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has been instrumental in assisting the region with Emergency Watershed Projects and “has worked hard to go above and beyond her regular work duties to ensure that producers and landowners of southern Johnson County have all the knowledge and tools they need to improve their operation,” said Budd.
Bartlett, also in southern Johnson County, has continued to expand and develop the Powder River Conservation District and its program by working with agencies, contractors and landowners to bring them all closer together. In addition, she has served on the WACD Employee Association Board as president.
Finally, Brian Lovett was recognized as Outstanding Supervisor for WACD.
Lovett has bridged the gap between WACD and two of its partners – the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality – through his work with both agencies.
“Brian has also served as Wyoming’s voting delegate at National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Convention in Reno, Nev. this past year,” Budd said. “As a voting delegate on the Legislative Committee, he was instrumental in helping to see passage of NACD policy to oppose the Waters of the U.S. rule. Brian is an asset to Laramie County and Wyoming.”
New Board members
With Berger and Lovett both completing their terms on the WACD Board, Todd Heward and Jeri Trebelcock will step in as Board members.
Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this list of award winners from the 2016 Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Convention. Contact Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org.