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WACD honors members

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) hosted its yearly awards luncheon on Nov. 16, during the organization’s 2023 Annual Convention in Dubois. 

Bobby Rolston and Andrea Zink welcomed WACD members and other attendees to the ceremony.

“This program is designed to showcase the hard work of districts, partners, cooperators and all of those who make conservation and agriculture in Wyoming successful,” Rolston shared. 

Certification awards

To begin, Zink recognized individuals who received District Employee Certification during 2023. 

She explained District Employee Certification awards are given to employees who participate in training and have successfully passed a written test on district boundary reporting, records management, subdivision reviews, nursery stock laws, open meetings and public records law, local government insurance and employment laws, among other things.

WACD members awarded with District Employee Certification include Ashley Coenen of the South Big Horn Conservation District, Elise Rose of the Shoshone Conservation District, Holly Dyer of the Laramie Rivers Conservation District, Karen Johnson of the Lingle Fort Laramie Conservation District, Kerri Sabey of the Uinta County Conservation District, Michelle Huntington of the Converse County Conservation District and Shaun Kirkwood of the Laramie County Conservation District. 

Other individuals who received the award are Trish Smith of the Star Valley Conservation District; Sunshine Solaas of the Medicine Bow Conservation District; Traci Berg, Melanie Purcell and Shari Meeks of the Sublette County Conservation District; Joe Parsons and Jordynn Holmberg of the Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins Conservation District and William Simmons and Jamie Phipps of the North Platte Valley and South Goshen Conservation District. 

Zink also honored members who received Water Quality Training Certification during the year. 

“The goal of the training and certification program is to ensure district personnel are well trained to collect high-quality data to meet the credible data statute,” she explained. 

“The requirements for certification include attending the Principles of Water Quality Training and Water Quality Monitoring and Analysis Training, receiving a score of 90 percent or better on a test given after the trainings, attending two sampling days with a water quality certified employee or a Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality employee in the Surface Water Monitoring Department and passing a field audit,” Zink continued. 

Employees who completed these certification requirements include Coenen, Adrienne Kirkwood of the Laramie County Conservation District and Cathy Rosenthal of the Lower Wind River Conservation District.

Outstanding annual plans and reports

Following the certification awards, Rolston honored the Converse County Conservation District for receiving the Outstanding 2023 Annual Report and the Weston County Conservation District for Honorable Mention. 

Recognition for the Outstanding Annual Plan of Work went to the Sheridan County Conservation District and the South Big Horn Conservation District received Honorable Mention.

Poster and photo contest winners

Next, Zink recognized five students from across the state as winners of the WACD poster contest. These individuals received a certificate and a $100 cash prize, and their posters were forwarded on to compete in the National Association of Conservation Districts’ contest.

Avery Martinez of Niobrara County was the winner of the kindergarten through first grade division, and Kyler Larsen of Uinta County was the winner in the second through third grade division.

Students from Converse County swept the next three divisions, with Flint Ostrander winning the fourth through sixth grade division, Abigail Ostrander winning the seventh through ninth grade division and Ava Ostrander winning the 10th through 12th grade division. 

Additionally, WACD recognized the winners of its 2023 photo contest.

The winning Conservation Practices photo was Lisa Shaw’s “Wind Break.” Shaw also won the Close-up Conservation photo with her photo titled “God’s Blessings.”

The winning Conservation in Action photo was awarded to Natasha Dangler for her photo “Breaking Ground for New Roots,” and the winning Conservation and Agriculture Across America Photo was awarded to Cathy Rosenthal for her photo “Naps in the Sunshine.”

Outstanding individuals

To conclude the program, Rolston recognized a few other individuals for their outstanding work in conservation and agriculture. 

The 2023 Teacher of the Year Award was given to Jenna Schultz of the Big Horn County Conservation District, Dale Hytek of the Niobrara County Conservation District was awarded Outstanding Cooperator, Oakley Ingersol of the Natural Resources Conservation Service was awarded Outstanding Technician and Caroline Joy Hadley, publisher and editor of Range Magazine and the Real Buckaroo Calendar, was honored as the Outstanding News Reporter. 

Additionally, Eric Watson, district conservationist for Riverton and Lander, was honored as the Outstanding Conservationist of 2023, Michael Henn of the Sublette County Conservation District was awarded Outstanding Employee and Sweetwater County Conservation District’s Tom Burris received the Darrell Walker Outstanding Supervisor Award. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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