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2012 Conservation Awards

Each year, outstanding conservationists are recognized throughout the state
for their dedication to soil and water conservation. Meet the 2012 winners!

Outstanding Conservation Teacher - Division I
Nancy Carter, Mediapolis Community School, Mediapolis, Des Moines SWCD
Outstanding Conservation Teacher of the YearNancy Carter is a teacher that incorporates conservation and actively involves students in all aspects of the learning process. In turn she garners enthusiasm from her students about conservation projects. She challenges students to think beyond themselves and think globally. Students are engaged in science and are taught the scientific method in problem solving. Issues are approached in a thoughtful manner, and the impact of conclusions can be properly evaluated. This involves many interactive and hands-on activities. The students soon begin to ask better questions. In each case, a solution must be evaluated for short and long term consequences and each student has individual strengths that can be brought to bear on the problem. Students can carry these lessons into adulthood and be thoughtful, well informed citizens who will work with others throughout life, making a positive impact on their family and community.
Outstanding Conservation Teacher - Division II
Kim Strunk, Davenport West High School, St. Ambrose University, Davenport & Scott County Community College, Scott County, Scott SWCD
Outstanding Conservation Teacher Kim teaches 10th through 12th grade at Davenport West. He teaches Environmental Science, Invertebrate Zoology, Investigative Biology, Molecular Biology and Genetics. Kim teaches three other science courses where students earn college credits. Kim always seeks to build a conservation ethic in his students by assisting them to enjoy and appreciate the natural world of Iowa. Kim lived in Alaska for two years. For his students’ benefit he is able to contrast the natural wonders of Alaska with the natural wonders of rich Iowa soil. Students are so well equipped and self-confident that many can go out and talk to community leaders, representatives in business and government. Wherever possible, Kim takes students along when speaking publically, and frequently the students also speak as part of the program. Through numerous field trips, students have acquired the value of stewardship of the rural and urban environment.
Outstanding Conservation Farmer
Mike Sporrer Dedham, Carroll SWCD
Outstanding Conservation Farmer Mike has been a no-till farmer since he was a high school junior and he rented 101 acres from his Dad. Anyone looking at Mike’s fields can feel the wonderment of his success and the display of his ethic. Mike doesn’t think it is anything special; he is just doing what needs to be done to protect soil, water and air. Mike has expanded no-till to all owned and rented land and has noticed an increase in organic matter, water infiltration, and crop yields. Much of the 900 acres of land farmed are rugged; 15% or more with steep slopes. Mike has worked to bring all soil loss levels at “T” or below. Mike combines no-till, contouring, terraces, waterways, field borders, and cover crops to achieve soil protection goals on his Corn-Corn-Soybean rotation. Mike strives to protect his land from ephemeral and gully erosion by maintaining the waterways and keeping everything seeded and shaped for drainage. Mike has installed water and sediment control basins where needed. Mike has side-dressed with Nitrogen and used the fall nitrogen stalk test. He analyzes comparison field strips and applies variable rates with GPS technology.

Woodland Owner of the Year
Ron Berns, Monona, Allamakee SWCD
Woodland Owner of the Year Ron sets an excellent example for other woodland owners on the proper use of practical forestry. Ron carefully follows a written management plan for his 280 acres, a plan that he began in 1981, revised in 2005, 2007 and 2010. Ron performs different timber stand improvements in different areas each year, always with the goal of owning a healthy and productive woodland. Ron has clear cut and harvested oak and maple, and then hand planted oak and walnut.  Ron is a NEIFAC member, NE Iowa Woods Co-op member, master manager graduate, and he has put 209 acres in the Forestry Legacy Program.
Farmstead Windbreak Award
Dennis and Kathy Venner, Arcadia, Carroll SWCD
Farmstead Windbreak Award

Dennis and Kathy planted their windbreak to protect the farmstead from winter winds and snow. This included their home, but also the machine shed, grain bins and of course, the cattle lots. The windbreak consists of five rows of Dogwood, Chokecherry, Red Cedar, Norway Spruce, and Concolor Fir. Livestock are not permitted in the windbreak area. Weeds are controlled with mulch and regular mowing. An ice storm in 2009-2010 damaged many trees. Dennis and Kathy have replaced plants where necessary, pruned and trimmed away broken limbs on others.

Newly Established Farmstead Windbreak Award
Dean and Michelle Pudenz, Carroll, Carroll SWCD
Newly Established Farmstead Windbreak Award Dean and Michelle planted their windbreak to protect an existing grain bin on their property and plans for a future home. All deciduous and evergreens were planted from potted stock. A drip irrigation system was installed and used for the first two years and still is used in dry spells such as the fall of 2011 and summer of 2012. All young trees were supported with bamboo stakes. In addition, a 40 foot strip of alfalfa was planted around the windbreak to help buffer stock from chemical drift from farm ground. Dean and Michelle use mowing, mulching and spot spraying to control weeds. No livestock are allowed near the windbreak area and they are constantly on the lookout for any threats to the trees and shrubs. 
Field Shelterbelt Windbreak Award
Rose and Greg Shine, Conrad, Grundy SWCD
Field Shelterbelt Windbreak Award

Rose and Greg noticed that not many farms in Grundy County have planted field windbreaks. They decided to do something about it. Their ground was marginal and susceptible to erosion. Quite possibly, the kids and grandkids might even benefit from a future cash crop. Regardless, the windbreak that was installed helps prevent soil from blowing away, helps keep the shallow water area between the windbreaks cleaner, and helps reduce the runoff into a nearby creek. For the first five years, Rose and Greg kept a 3’ wide black strip spraying for weed control along with using roundup and mowing. Occasional spot spraying is still needed. Rose and Greg trim and prune as necessary. They also planted filter strips along the creek and shallow water area to encourage wildlife.     

Outstanding Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner
Rick Juchems, Butler SWCD
Outstanding SWCD Commissioner of the Year

Rick has been chairman of the Butler District since 2001. For several years he was a CDI Regional Director and then CDI Vice President (2 years), CDI President, 2007-2009, and an Alternate on NACD Board. Rick served on the Commissioner Training and Development Team (CADAT); he made several trips to Washington to lobby for funding. He attended the North Central Regional NACD meetings several times, attended the NACS Annual meeting several times. Rick is the Butler SWCD representative on the Tri-County Rural Water Executive Board. Rick’s farming operation sets an excellent example of land management with a diverse selection of practices that maintains high levels of production while protecting valuable natural resources. The farming operation consists of 260 acres of corn and 250 acres of soybeans 2000 market hogs and 250 fed cattle annually. Rick has utilized no-till planting of soybeans and conservation tillage on acres planted to corn for many years. In 1999 he completed waste storage structure that contains all livestock waste and feedlot runoff from his hog and cattle feeding area. He recently completed an underground waste storage system. Rick has also worked with rented land owners and installed buffers, waterways, terraces, and native prairie grass.

Ken Wagner Award
Alex Schmidt, Johnson SWCD
Ken Wagner Award

Alex is a leader and strong advocate for soil and water conservation. He actively participates in monthly commissioner meetings, regional/state CDI meetings, and district and partner events. Alex is a member of the personnel committee which involves hiring and supervising district employees. Every year Alex donates time and equipment to help with the district’s tree and plant fundraising program. He also has been involved in Iowa Partnership Days explaining the district story to local and state legislators. Alex has done an outstanding job promoting urban conservation. Alex is highly regarded by his peers and deserving of the Ken Wagner award.

Ruth Wagner Award
Larry Thompson, Scott SWCD
Ruth Wagner Award

Larry Thompson is a dedicated assistant commissioner and attends 90% of the meetings. He attends regional and annual meetings and always brings a wealth of information back to the next board meeting. Larry is well versed in lake ecology, monitoring, physical, biological, and chemical assessments. His background, especially in water monitoring, is extremely helpful with the Duck Creek water quality project. He has worked closely with the DNR to acquire materials and volunteers to develop habitat for Lost Grove Lake. Alex does water sampling in many lakes throughout the county determining potential problems and data to set baselines. Larry helps promote water retention and soil preservation through the use of rain gardens, soil restoration techniques, native plantings, and by attending local events in the Davenport Metro area.

All state-level awards were presented at the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner's 66th Annual Conference in September 2012.
Mailing Address: IDALS,  Wallace State Office Building,   502 E. 9th Street,  Des Moines, IA 50319:     PH: 515-281-5321
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