Conservation Day at the Capitol 2008 (post-event)
Awards Presented for Conservation, Education and Communication
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) and other sponsors presented awards to outstanding conservationists and conservation educators during Conservation Day at the Capitol on March 19. Awards were also presented to members of the press and conservation districts for outstanding efforts in spreading information about conservation. The various awards were cosponsored by Chesapeake Energy, the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
In the awards ceremony that took place in the Governor’s Blue Room, presenters included Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts President Scotty Herriman, Oklahoma Press Association Executive Vice President Mark Thomas, and Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director Mike Thralls. Corporate Development Associate Taylor Shinn represented Chesapeake Energy, State Director Mike Fuhr represented the Nature Conservancy and Agricultural Division Director Wadell Altom represented the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in presenting the awards. In addition, several state legislators presented commendations to the honorees. (See accompanying documents at the bottom of this story for more information on individual award recipients.)
The OACD Conservation Awards are presented according to three categories — Outstanding Conservation District, Outstanding District Director and Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator.
Deer Creek Conservation District received the Outstanding District Award, cosponsored by Chesapeake Energy. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Taylor Shinn, Chesapeake Energy, and Scotty Herriman, OACD, presented the award. Reps. James Covey and Ryan McMullen presented the district with an Oklahoma State Legislature Citation. The Deer Creek Conservation District office is in Weatherford.
Rick Jeans of Tonkawa, on the board of directors of the Kay County Conservation District, will receive the Outstanding District Director Award, cosponsored by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. In February Jeans was inducted into the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame. Sen. David Myers and Rep. Dale DeWitt presented Jeans with an Oklahoma State Legislature Citation. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Wadell Altom, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and Scotty Herriman, OACD, presented the award.
Dan Gallery of Wann, Okla., will receive the Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator Award, cosponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. Gallery is a cooperator with and was nominated by the Caney Valley Conservation District. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Mark Fuhr, Nature Conservancy, and Scotty Herriman, OACD, presented the award. Reps. Earl Sears and Steve Martin presented Gallery with an Oklahoma State Legislature Citation.
In addition, five teachers from across the state, one in each Congressional district, received Outstanding Conservation Educator Awards cosponsored by OACD and Chesapeake Energy. The recipients were John Beasley, Tulsa; Alicia Brents, Fort Towson; Jennifer Crabb, Sayre; Rick McElhaney, Lawton (not present); and Colby Cagle, Bethel Acres. Taylor Shinn, Chesapeake Energy, and Scotty Herriman, OACD, presented the awards.
Excellence in Communication Awards were presented to two conservation districts and two newspaper publishers for outstanding efforts to support and promote conservation. Kay County Conservation District was honored for an Outstanding Public Information Campaign. Garfield County Conservation District received an award for Excellence in Broadcast Communication. Mark Carson, publisher of the Woods County Enterprise, and Willis Choate, publisher of the Marietta Monitor, each received an award for Outstanding Continuing Support of Conservation by an Oklahoma Press Association Member Newspaper. Mark Thomas, OPA, presented the awards.
During the day approximately 30 display booths were presented in the Capitol Fourth Floor Rotunda by a number of the state’s 88 local conservation districts, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and other partner agencies and organizations. The displays featured diverse conservation activities across the state that address local natural resource needs.
Conservation Districts are local subunits of state government responsible for care of renewable natural resources. Each district is a governed by a board of five volunteer directors, and cooperates with the Natural Resources Conservation Service for technical assistance.
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes natural resource conservation through various activities as well as communication and cooperation with legislative bodies at the state and national levels.
(See below for more information on honorees)
OACD Conservation Awards
For outstanding achievement in conservation of Oklahoma’s renewable natural resources in three categories — Outstanding Conservation District, Outstanding District Director and Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator..
Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Dan Gallery, nominated by the Caney Valley Conservation District
Dan Gallery, a rancher from Wann, Okla., has been a district cooperator with the Caney Valley Conservation District since 1958. Dan graduated with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in 1957 and throughout his ranching career has pursued an intensive erosion control plan, including construction of over 60 ponds. Along with his hundreds of acres of Bermuda, fescue and native bluestem, Dan created a 15-acre wetlands area to improve wildlife habitat. With abundant deer and turkey, he hopes to restore the declining quail population as well. The Caney Valley Conservation District appreciates Dan Gallery and his family for their stewardship of Washington County’s natural resources.
Sponsored by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Rick Jeans, Kay County Conservation District
Rick Jeans is a leader in conservation, serving on his district board since 1990. He served as chairman during the consolidation of the Western Kay County Conservation District and the Arkansas River-Kay Conservation District in 1995. Jeans served the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts as Area II director, vice president and then two terms as president. Rick served as Area II Commissioner on the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and received a Commendation from Gov. Brad Henry for his service. He continues to represent Oklahoma on the board of directors of the National Association of Conservation Districts and its Environment and Resource Policy Committee. Jeans offered input at a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Bill listening session and testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit and Rural Development. Rick was a member of the first Conservation Leadership Class and the sixth Ag Leadership Class. Rick calls his wife Diane and daughter Amber his “two biggest supporters in helping farmers and conservation.”
Outstanding Conservation District
Sponsored by Chesapeake Energy the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Deer Creek Conservation District
The Deer Creek Conservation District pursues an active and varied program to further conservation of our natural resources. The district offers no-till workshops, equipment rental and incentive signups to promote the goals of the state’s 319 Water Quality Program. The district sponsors a Blue Thumb Program to monitor water quality, stencil storm drains and help volunteers identify pollutants and analyze the health of local streams. Deer Creek Conservation District takes pride in educating the conservationists of tomorrow by sponsoring poster, essay and speech contests and reaching hundreds of students each year with its Outdoor Classroom, annual land judging contest and in-school presentations. The district sponsors truckload tree sales to serve as windbreaks and wildlife habitat. Each year the district recognizes an individual who has exhibited an outstanding stewardship ethic. The district is active in the state Cost-Share Program and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program and maintains ongoing communication with local, state and federal elected officials.
Outstanding Conservation Educators
For outstanding achievement in Conservation Education
Sponsored by Chesapeake Energy and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Congressional District I
John Beasley, nominated by the Tulsa County Conservation District. Mr. Beasley teaches environmental science and aquatic biology at Tulsa Memorial High School. His students study general environmental trends and issues as well as local and regional concerns such as wastewater management and its impact on Bird Creek, chicken litter and Illinois River eutrophication, Arkansas River development and nesting sites of the Interior Least Tern, and lead mining and mitigation at Tar Creek. Mr. Beasley’s students participate in the Oklahoma Blue Thumb program by monitoring Little Joe Creek in Tulsa County and are responsible for a recycling initiative at Memorial High School.
Congressional District II
Alicia Brents, nominated by the Kiamichi Conservation District. Ms. Brents has been an educator for 37 years and is currently teaching 6th grade at Ft. Towson Elementary School. She incorporates natural resources into all the subjects she teaches including science, math, language, reading, social studies, and art. Ms. Brents is also a 4-H leader and coaches a Forestry Judging team that has won the state title 8 times. Her students also participate in the OACD poster, essay and speech contests every year.
Congressional District III
Jennifer Crabb, nominated by the North Fork of Red River Conservation District. Ms. Crabb teaches 9th-12th grades at Sayre High School where she has expanded the curriculum to include a new course titled Environmental Science. Her students use the school’s greenhouse to propagate native plants for use in a butterfly garden at the North Fork Red River Conservation District’s Outdoor Classroom as well as trees for the school’s campus. Ms. Crabb is also coaching an Oklahoma Envirothon team this year.
Congressional District IV
Rick McElhaney, nominated by the Comanche County Conservation District. Mr. McElhaney has been teaching for 29 years and is currently the Ag Science teacher at Lawton Eisenhower High School. He incorporates conservation education into all of the courses he teaches including agribusiness, natural resources, and animal science. Mr. McElhaney’s students study water, soil, forestry, wildlife and range in both the classroom and in the field. Lawton Public Schools recently broke ground on the FFA School Farm and Laboratory where Mr. McElhaney’s students will be establishing several native grass demonstration areas. His students also participate in the OACD speech contest and he coaches two Oklahoma Envirothon teams.
Congressional District V
Colby Cagle, nominated by the Shawnee Conservation District. Mr. Cagle is the Ag Science teacher at Bethel Public Schools where he teaches agriscience, animal science, environmental science, plant science, ag power and technology, and ag communication. His students study forestry, soils, aquatics, wildlife and plants. They also participate in local recycling programs, wildfire restoration projects, Oklahoma Blue Thumb program, and the Oklahoma Aquarium’s Adopt-a-Fish program. Mr. Cagle’s students participate in the OACD poster, essay and speech contests and he coaches an Oklahoma Envirothon team. Mr. Cagle works with the Boy Scouts of America as a merit badge trainer for Environmental Science and Natural Resources.
Excellence in Communication
For outstanding achievement in communication in support of conservation.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Press Association and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Outstanding Public Information Campaign
For an outstanding overall communications campaign by a conservation district, effectively and
successfully using one or more media types to achieve a desired outcome.
Kay County Conservation District — In addition to a continuing relationship with local newspapers, the district is regularly represented on the local cable television station. In addition, the district carries out an innovative outreach program utilizing puppet shows to instill conservation principles in the minds of area students.
Excellence in Broadcast Communication
For an outstanding communication effort utilizing broadcast media for communication outreach which the conservation district either initiated or was directly involved in its production.
Garfield County Conservation District — 30-second radio public service announcements featuring Garfield County Conservation District’s Sherri Nickel promoting district services and contact information.
Outstanding Continuing Support of Conservation by an Oklahoma Press Association Member
For ongoing coverage that can include features, general news, columns, editorials, display advertisements, photographs or photo features or series or combination of any of the above, that raise awareness and promote the cause of conservation.
Mark Carson, Publisher, Woods County Enterprise. Nominated by the East Woods County Conservation District for a continuing series of articles and advertisements that raise awareness and promote the cause of conservation.
Willis Choate, Publisher, Marietta Monitor. Nominated by the Love County Conservation District for a continuing series of articles and advertisements that raise awareness and promote the cause of conservation.