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2015 Conservation Awards

Each year, outstanding conservationists are recognized throughout the state
for their dedication to soil and water conservation.  Meet the 2015 winners!
Outstanding Conservation Teacher - Division I
Andy Bean, Albert City- Truesdale, Buena Vista SWCD


Andy has taught elementary art for the past 27 years. She intertwines her love of art and agriculture by encouraging her students to do conservation projects in her classroom. Andy actively volunteers for “Ag in the Classroom”, sits on the Buena Vista County Fair Board, and was instrumental in landscaping the front of her school. She participates in the CDI Conservation Poster Contest as she feels it is important that her students learn about agriculture and be aware that their livelihood revolves around the industry. Andy does not let an opportunity to teach her students about conservation go by.

Outstanding Conservation Teacher - Division II
Susan Fritzell, Marshalltown High School, Marshall SWCD


Susan has been teaching the High School Extended Learning Program for 27 years. She believes that it is nearly impossible to lead students to care about the natural world until they have been exposed to it. This is why she takes her students outdoors. Her students test the water in streams, identify and measure trees, compare soils, take overnight adventures, and participate in the Iowa Envirothon. While having fun, the students are able to learn about their impact on the environment. Susan strives to instill a conservation ethic in her students as she believes that a healthy future for humanity is dependent on everyone valuing and conserving the environment.

Outstanding Conservation Farmer
Tim Smith, Wright SWCD


Tim has been an avid spokesman and promoter for soil and water conservation. He has spoken at multiple field days and community events around Iowa and the country. He implements many practices that prevent soil erosion, improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat. He has installed a bioreactor, added prairie strips seeded with native grasses and forbs, completed nutrient management plans, participated in the Field to Market field print calculator, and much more. All the practices that Tim has installed are because of his desire to preserve the quality of our soil and water, which he feels are our most important resources.

Woodland Owner of the Year
Larry & Miechelle Weber, Johnson SWCD


The Weber’s are ecologically restoring a parcel of their land they call “Old Man’s Timber”. The timber has remained relatively protected for several decades, with no known grazing, timber harvest, or other disturbances. The Weber’s goal and objectives for their woodland is to remove invasive and undesirable species, provide suitable wildlife habitat, introduce and encourage native plant growth, conduct prescribed burning, and address erosion concerns. They promote woodland management and preservation and keep a blog to update their followers on various topics. Many in their community praise the Weber’s for their commitment to and passion for the land.

Farmstead Windbreak Award
Michael & Kim Briley, Buena Vista SWCD


The Briley’s windbreak has 29 rows and multiple species. The windbreak planting has been completed to provide wind protection for the building site, decrease snow drift around buildings and on drives, provide wildlife habitat, and beautify the area. They have carefully maintained the windbreak by tilling, eliminating sod, mowing, herbicide use and mulching. The Briley’s have also put into place a plan for replacing tree species that are or will be affected by diseases.

Newly Established Farmstead Windbreak Award
Scott Potthoff, Carroll SWCD


Scott’s windbreak is made up of five rows and multiple species including Nanyberry, Dogwood, Norway Spruce, Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Red Oak, Swamp Oak, Concolor, and Black Hill Spruce. The windbreak has multiple benefits including protecting the farmstead from winter winds, beautification, and wildlife habitat. The areas of the windbreak have been seeded to shallow rooted grasses of Timothy and Rye. Scott also mulches and mows around the windbreak for maintenance.
Field Shelterbelt Windbreak Award
Bryan Redenius, Grundy SWCD


Bryan has several field windbreaks on his farm. He has planted rows of Redosier Dogwood, Ninebark, Arborvitae, Norway Spruce, Black Hills Spruce, Cranberry, Concolor Fir, and Lilac. These windbreak plantings reduce wind and erosion problems on the hillside. Bryan has maintained his windbreaks by mowing in spring and fall, controlling weeds, and mulching when the trees were first planted.

Outstanding Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner
Maureen McLaughlin Hutchcroft, Des Moines SWCD


Maureen is a very active commissioner who has served on many of the district’s committees and attends all district, regional and annual meetings. Maureen has assisted the district with organizing a booth at their Earth Day Event and County Fair. She has helped host their State Soil Tour and Spring Regional Meeting, represented the district at local meetings, and judges and presents awards to poster contest winners. She supports the Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks Programs and has been on the planning committee for the Women, Land & Legacy Program. Her farm has implemented conservation practices such as waterways, terraces, field borders, and windbreaks. Last year, her family accepted the Heritage Family Farm Award for their 150 year old McLaughlin Family Farm. Maureen’s personal conservation ethic shines through in nearly every conversation she has. 

Ken Wagner Award
Kate Giannini, Washington SWCD


Kate not only serves as a commissioner, but is also a Water Conservation Specialist with Johnson County Planning & Zoning. She has had many achievements including securing funds for several REAP projects, writing a successful grant application for the Rapid Creek Watershed, creating the Johnson County stormwater ordinance, writing an urban assessment report for Kent Lake, and providing technical assistance to landowners. She received a leadership award at the 2015 Iowa Stormwater Conference for this great work. Kate assists with the preparation of the district’s booth at the county fair, contacts legislators, and actively publicizes conservation. She is a certified inspector of sediment and erosion control, IOWATER certified, and assists in managing two family businesses. Kate serves as an extraordinary example of a conscientious steward of the land.

Ruth Wagner Award
Gracia Willis, Calhoun SWCD
Gracia is a very dedicated assistant commissioner who is active in attending district meetings, field days, workshops, and tours throughout the year. She started the district’s Backyard Conservation and Gardening Workshop Program sixteen years ago and has created many partnerships to continue the betterment of this popular community event. Gracia is very involved in promoting the district’s Tree Sales Program. Using her artistic ability, she has achieved a showcase of plantings and annually hires high school students to work and learn at her gardens, which are open to the public for tours that are both educational and inspiring. Gracia’s knowledge of the farm and true conservation spirit make working with her both enjoyable and educational.
Past Award Winners>


2013 (Coming Soon)





Mailing Address: IDALS,  Wallace State Office Building,   502 E. 9th Street,  Des Moines, IA 50319:     PH: 515-281-5321
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