Wyo. Association of Conservation Districts recognizes partners during annual meeting
Casper – The Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous recognized a number of members of Wyoming’s ag community, and the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) recognized their partners and contributors from the last year in a series of awards.
Shaun Sims, WACD president, presided over the awards ceremony, recognizing state and federal employees, ranchers, community members and WACD employees for their hard work over the past year.
WACD recognized Cassandra Matney of the Lusk Herald for her work promoting conservation in the Niobrara County area.
Nominated by the Niobrara Conservation District, Sims said, “Cassandra has written numerous articles on the new district office building, open house and the school’s high tunnels, which the district was involved in.”
Additionally, she writes weekly articles detailing the activities of the country and highlighting activities of the district.
Teacher of the Year
The WACD Teacher of the Year, Colleen Courtney, was nominated by the Crook County Natural Resource District (CCNRD) Board of Supervisors.
“Ms. Courtney seeks to provide engaging, hands-on opportunities that encourage students’ desire to learn more,” Sims said during the awards presentation. “Ms. Courtney spends numerous hours creating new lessons and perfecting the old.”
As a 24-year teacher, Courtney coordinates many science-related lessons with CCNRD to enhance her students’ knowledge of natural resources.
Jason and Maureen Oedekoven of Recluse were honored with the Outstanding Cooperator Award, which was presented to the couple for their willingness to improve their property and enhance conservation efforts.
“The Oedekovens have been improving the property since they purchased it,” Sims said. “They have implemented numerous management practices, including waste management, nutrient management and weed management.”
In addition, Jason served on the Campbell County Conservation District Board of Supervisors from 2008-12, and the Oedekovens have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to install livestock water pipelines, solar water tanks, windbreaks and riparian area fencing.
“The Jason and Maureen Oedekoven family exemplify conservation of Wyoming’s working lands and exhibit exceptional contributions to on-the-ground conservation practices, leadership in the field of conservation and community and civic involvement,” Sims commented
As outstanding conservationist, Jennifer Haywood of NRCS in Pinedale was recognized for 19 years of service as a GIS specialist, conservation planner and now a district conservationist.
“Jennifer has been a leader within NRCS, not only managing efforts within her field office but assisting other within her division, as well as at the state level,” Sims said, noting that Hayward has also been actively involved in a number of working groups and collaboratives to conserve both species and landscapes.
Sims continued, “Over the last 19 years, Jennifer has gained the respect and trust of landowners and land managers in Sublette County.”
The 2017 Outstanding Technician was NRCS Planner Jason Nehl of Crook County NRCS, who has been involved in improving and implementing new programs, as well as serving as a competent source of knowledge on natural resource issues.
“Jason is deserving of the Outstanding Technician Award because of his commitment to the land, the landowners and his expertise as a technician who truly serves Crook County,” Sims explained.
As another highlighted honor, Sen. Dave Kinskey of Sheridan was recognized with the Outstanding Elected Official Award.
Sims noted Kinskey immediately jumped in to promoting conservation efforts after being appointed to fill the late Sen. John Schiffer’s position on July 15, 2014.
“Sen. Kinskey is a strong voice for ranchers, co-sponsoring legislation to protect them from trespassing,” Sims said. “In another effort to strengthen the agriculture industry, Dave supports programs critical to our agriculture economy, such as predator control and water development.”
Powder River Conservation District, who nominated Kinskey, expressed their appreciation for Kinskey’s dedication to advocating for the agriculture and natural resources communities.
WACD also honored an Outstanding Employee and Outstanding Supervisor.
Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins Conservation District’s Joe Parsons was recognized as Outstanding Employee. Parsons has served as the district manager since 2015, but he has worked with the district since 2012. His work establishing relationships and working to become the “go-to entity to get local projects done” led to his recognition this year.
Then, Sheridan County Conservation District Supervisor Susan Holmes was recognized as Outstanding Supervisor.
“Most importantly, Susan brings a lot of expertise to the table,” Sims explained. “She is not afraid to ask the hard questions when needed. Her dedication to the district and the natural resources of Sheridan County is obvious.”
Finally, to round out the awards, Sims presented the Presidential Award to Lindsay Patterson of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for her work on the Categorical Use Attainability Analysis for Recreation, among other things.
“Lindsay has done a tremendous job in working for Wyoming’s water resources and with local districts to ensure Wyoming is focusing its attention and effort on priority water resource issues and protecting our priority waters. We greatly appreciate her hard work and partnership,” said Bobbie Frank, WACD executive director.
“I am honored to receive the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Presidential Award for my work on the Categorical Use Attainability Analysis for Recreation,” said Patterson. “Many, many people made significant contributions to the project, including WACD and Wyoming’s conservation districts, so I greatly appreciate the recognition.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.