WACD presents several awards at annual awards luncheon
Cody – On Nov. 30, Director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Todd Parfitt honored several hard-working individuals, outstanding youth and notable Conservation Districts throughout the state for their work and leadership in soil and water conservation during the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) Annual Award Program.
Outstanding Annual Plan Award
Points were awarded for layout and design, clear concise and measurable accomplishments and accomplishments related back to the annual plan of work.
Sublette County Conservation District received the award for the 2021-22 Outstanding Annual Plan, while Niobrara Conservation District received Honorable Mention. Teton County Conservation District was awarded the Outstanding 2021-22 Annual Report and Sublette County Conservation District received Honorable Mention.
Gracelyn Holden won the award in the kindergarten through first grade division. In the second through third grade division, Averie Cozzens received the recognition. Abigail Ostrander received the award for the fourth through sixth grade division, and Ava Ostrander received the award for the seventh through nineth grade division. All poster contest winners participated through the Converse County Conservation District.
Each poster contest winner received a certificate and $100 cash. The winning posters have been forwarded to the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) to compete in the national poster contest and will be announced at the NACD convention.
Teacher of the Year
Per WACD guidelines, the Teacher of the Year award “recognized any educator of a public or private school system that takes extraordinary steps to ensure a balanced natural resource conservation education is delivered in the classroom. Nominees are considered based on specific examples of educational events and activities provided by the nominator.”
This year’s award winner is Bill Schell, an educator at Manila High School in Daggett County, Utah – a school which provides education for students in Sweetwater County. Schell was nominated by the Sweetwater County Conservation District for his involvement teaching agriculture and business.
“Schell is passionate about parliamentary procedure and livestock judging,” reads the award announcement. “He directed students to build resumes and arranged mock interviews within the community to strengthen their interviewing skills. Schell is an exceptional educator that will have lasting impacts on students through his compassion for bettering the community and those who live and serve in it.”
Outstanding Cooperator Award
The next award recognizes individuals who own and manage between five and 100 acres of land, and show dedication to long-term conservation of natural resources.
This year’s Outstanding Cooperator is Jen Lamb with the Nature Conservancy. Lamb received this award for contributions to conservation and community support in the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming. Her contributions have impacted the basin through enhancement of sagebrush rangelands, wildlife habitats, and by placing value on the local community and working ranch landscapes.
Lamb is greatly involved with the Wyoming Conservation Exchange and facilitated staff support for Sublette County Conservation District.
Outstanding Technician Award
The Outstanding Technician Award is given to an individual who is active in natural resource conservation and provides technical assistance on natural resource conservation. The 2021 Outstanding Technician is Allen Croft.
In Croft’s role as the Worland Field Office Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Engineer, he provided reliable and timely technical assistance.
Throughout his career, Croft has shown an interest in helping others on diverse projects, and has taken the time to educate new staff members as the Conservation District staff has evolved. Croft has been very active in his career and involvement WACD was ecstatic to present Croft with this award.
The 2021 Outstanding Elected Official is Wyoming Sen. Larry Hicks, who represents Albany and Carbon counties in the 11th Senate District. This award recognizes elected offices who have made efforts in assisting, promoting and representing Conversation Districts and associated programs.
Sen. Hicks advocates for the oil and gas industry during legislative sessions, and serves as the vice chair of the Select Water Committee and is the vice president of the Wyoming State Senate.
In addition, Sen. Hicks provides leadership and guidance to Wyoming’s coal mines and is a source of knowledge about water.
Andrew Cassiday with NRCS received the Outstanding Conservationist Award. This award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the field of natural resource convention.
Cassiday has worked on improving livestock facilities, septic systems, irrigation diversions and stream stabilization projects.
In addition, Cassiday also participates in local community organizations and events including the Northeast Wyoming Invasive Grass Workgroup, Sheridan County Weed and Pest Board, Meals on Wheels Program, conducts YMCA activities and provides guidance and direct assistance on surveying and treatment for ventenata and medusahead.
Outstanding Employee Award
The 2021-22 Outstanding Employee Award was presented to Joan McGraw. She is recognized for her community and civic involvement.
McGraw began working at Medicine Bow Conservation District in 2010 as the district clerk/education coordinator. She developed education programs in Medicine Bow, Hanna and Elk Mountain schools which provide natural resource lessons for various grade levels.
Students’ favorite lessons included hands-on activities. McGraw wears several hats throughout her community and has served on the Carbon County Visitors Council, Carbon County’s Wyoming Public Lands Initiative Steering Committee, Carbon County Natural Resource Management Plan Steering Committee and the Wyoming Conservation District Employees Association.
Outstanding Supervisor of the Year
The Outstanding Supervisor of the Year award was presented to Derrell Walker of the Sublette County Conservation District. Walker has been Wyoming’s longest serving board supervisor, serving for 47 years, and has been very active in his 47 year “voluntary career” with the conservation districts. He has also been the Sublette County Conservation District Chairman for 38 years.
Walker has served as a 4-H leader, member of the 4-H Council, member and president of the Sublette County Farm Bureau and on the Wyoming Farm Bureau Natural Resources Committee. Darrell has also been a church leader for many years.
In recognition of Walker’s outstanding achievements and time spent within WACD, the organization will be changing the name of the award to the Darrell Walker Outstanding Supervisor Award.
In addition, WACD recognized several district employees who obtained district certifications as well as water quality certification and re-certifications in 2021. To see a complete list of certifications and recertifications for 2021-2022, visit conservewy.com.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.