Conservation Day at the Capitol 2011

Awards Presented for Conservation, Education and Communication

Post-event summary of activities and award presentations

(Click here for photos from Conservation Day at the Capitol 2011)

image of Amber Jean, winner.
(From left) Rep. Dale DeWitt, Amber Jeans, Sen. David Myers and Dianne and Rick Jeans, with Amber’s award winning poster. Click on photo link for all photos from Conservation Day at the Capitol 2011.

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 22. 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 state Sec. of Agriculture Jim Reese, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts President Joe Parker and Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director Mike Thralls. In addition, representatives from Chesapeake Energy, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma were present to help present awards. Several honorees also received Legislative Citations from their home area state senator or representative.

The OACD Conservation Awards are presented according to three categories — Outstanding Conservation District, Outstanding District Director and Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator.

Little River Conservation District received the Outstanding District Award, cosponsored by Chesapeake Energy. Lindsay McIntire, Chesapeake Energy; and Joe Parker, OACD, presented the award. The Little River Conservation District office is in Idabel.

Jimmie Purvine of Fay, Okla., on the board of directors of the Dewey County Conservation District, received the Outstanding District Director Award, co-sponsored by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Corey Moffet, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, presented the award.

Loren Liebscher of Hydro received the Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator Award, co-sponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. Liebscher is a cooperator with and was nominated by the Deer Creek Conservation District. Jay Pruett, Nature Conservancy, presented the award.

In addition, five teachers from across the state, one in each Congressional district, received Outstanding Conservation Educator Awards co-sponsored by Chesapeake Energy. The recipients were Kathy Pursley, Bixby High School, Bixby; Juli Mathews, Miami High School, Miami; Justin Kliewer, Thomas Fay Custer Unified Schools, Thomas; Kay Gamble, Ada High School, Ada; and Cathy Barber, Jones Elementary School, Jones. Lindsay McIntire, Chesapeake Energy, and Joe Parker, OACD, presented the awards.

Excellence in Communication Awards were presented to two conservation districts and two newspapers for outstanding efforts to support and promote conservation. The Woodward News daily and Mooreland Leader weekly newspapers were both recognized for Outstanding Continuing Support of Conservation Communication. Grady County Conservation District was honored for a year-long series of display ads. Oklahoma County Conservation District was honored for Outstanding Newsletter.
During the day approximately 20 display booths were exhibited in the Fourth Floor Rotunda of the Capitol by a number of the state’s 87 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 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.

Additional information about awards and recipients follows:

OACD Conservation Awards

For outstanding achievement in conservation of Oklahoma’s renewable natural resources.

Outstanding Landowner/Cooperator

Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and the  Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts

Loren Liebscher, nominated by the Deer Creek Conservation District

Loren Liebscher has been a cooperator with the Deer Creek Conservation District since 1991.  He has moved away from an intensive cultivation row cropping system and put the land into native grasses. He has transformed a part of his land into a major agritourism attraction in western Oklahoma at P-Bar Farms. Thousands of people visit the farm each year to enjoy a variety of activities from the corn maze to the petting zoo. P-Bar Farms is also home to the no-till flour mill that produces whole wheat flour from wheat grown only by local farmers practicing no-till farming. Mr. Liebscher hosts schools and teaches Ag in the Classroom during field trips where he exposes students to agricultural processes. Other activities he has been involved with include holding a plasticulture workshop and a Farm to School program, and he has been president of the Oklahoma Agritourism Board, and a presenter at a Women in Ag Conference.

Outstanding Director

Sponsored by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts

Jimmie, Dewey County Conservation District

Jimmie Purvine has been a loyal director on the Dewey County Conservation District board of directors for 20 years where he now serves as board treasurer.  He promotes and attends the district’s legislative tours, appreciation banquets, locally-led meetings and watershed inspections. He is very enthusiastic in promoting conservation programs and demonstrating conservation stewardship management on his farm. Mr. Purvine believes in improving agriculture practices and leaving a safe and healthy environment for the future.  He was born and raised in Dewey County where he operates and maintains a farm that has been in the family for three generations.  The family farm includes a cow/calf and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) where by-products are applied on crop and pasture land. A new management tool starting on the farm will be water quality testing and Mr. Purvine assists with the Conservation Commission’s 319 North Canadian River Watershed Project.

Outstanding Conservation District

Sponsored by Chesapeake Energy the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts

Little River Conservation District

The Little River Conservation District is one of the five largest districts in the state, encompassing nearly one million acres. The district provides both rental equipment and custom services for its customers. It also has the largest Wetland Reserve Program area in the state and has restored over 14,000 acres of wetlands.  The district provides assistance with maintenance by brushhogging the levees surrounding the WRP sites and two sites, the Red Slough and the Grassy Slough, have been nationally recognized for their habitat restoration. The district offers assistance to landowners through its conservation cost-share program and also has one of the most diverse education programs, sponsoring and providing funds for scholarships for land, forestry and speech contests held each year.  The district also owns and operates a 266-acre demonstration farm used for tours, fertilizer comparisons, establishing new grasses, beaver management, pecan tree management, no-till pasture seeding and most recently, experimenting with tree trunk insecticide application.

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 Communication Efforts by Conservation Districts

For an outstanding communications activities by a conservation district, effectively and successfully using one or more media types to achieve a desired outcome.

Grady County Conservation District

For an outstanding series of display ads, one per month throughout the year, promoting conservation programs and activities.
Oklahoma County Conservation District

For an outstanding newsletter presenting useful and interesting information in an attractive format to district cooperators and other subscribers.

Outstanding Coverage of Conservation by an Oklahoma Press Association Member Newspaper

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.

Woodward News

Nominated by the Woodward County Conservation District. Recognized for an outstanding and continuing support of conservation through features, general news, columns, photo features and a regular district newsletter feature.

Mooreland Leader

Nominated by the Woodward County Conservation District. Recognized for an outstanding and continuing support of conservation through features, general news, columns, photo features and a regular district newsletter feature. 

Outstanding Conservation Educators

For outstanding achievement in Conservation Education

Sponsored by Chesapeake Energy and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts

Congressional District 1 –  Kathy Pursley, nominated by the Tulsa County Conservation District.

Ms. Pursley is a science teacher at Bixby High School where she currently teaches physical and environmental sciences.  She brings a great amount of energy to the preparation and presentation of her lessons and that energy has an infectious influence on her students. Her students developed and maintain a butterfly habitat on school grounds and have full responsibility for the recycling program at the school. For several years, Ms. Pursley and her students collected and analyzed water samples from Bixby Creek that flows next to the school. In 2009, they became involved with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Blue Thumb program. At first, many of her students were fearful of the creek, believing it to be a dangerous, snake-infested place to avoid. Thanks to Blue Thumb they now ask, “Can we go to the creek today?” Ms. Pursley is “thrilled to see them overcome the fear and begin to see the out of doors as a place to protect, respect and enjoy.”

Congressional District 2 – Juli Matthews, nominated by the Ottawa County Conservation District.

Ms. Matthews teaches biology, chemistry and advanced placement environmental science at Miami High School. Although she has been in the classroom only two years, Ms. Matthews has integrated several conservation education programs into her curriculum. She and her students spend considerable time in an outdoor classroom located on school grounds where they participate in the Blue Thumb program. Students monitor water quality in the aquatic habitat feature at the outdoor classroom as well as in several creeks in Ottawa County.  Ms. Matthews has also assumed the role of Envirothon coach, forming a new team from Miami High School that will compete in the 2011 Oklahoma Envirothon.  Before deciding to pursue a teaching certificate, Ms. Matthews was the Storm Water Program Manager for the City of Miami where she developed a water quality curriculum for third graders.

Congressional District 3 – Justin Kliewer, nominated by the Deer Creek Conservation District.

Mr. Kliewer is an Agriculture Education instructor and FFA advisor for the Thomas Fay Custer Unified Schools where he teaches Ag exploration, Ag science, animal science, natural resources, plant and soil science and horticulture.  His students participate in local land judging competitions and speech contests. Mr. Kliewer takes his students on numerous field trips where they study soils, erosion, plant identification and farming practices. Mr. Kliewer also places a strong emphasis on the historical relevance of conservation. His students have put in to practice many of the concepts they learned in the classroom and on field trips, including establishing a hay meadow on acreage adjacent to the school’s Ag complex.

Congressional District 4 – Kay Gamble, nominated by the Pontotoc County Conservation District.

Ms. Gamble teaches biology, anatomy and physiology, zoology, botany and biotechnology at Ada High School and serves as the sponsor for the Science Club. Ms. Gamble integrates conservation education into every course and models good conservation habits in her classroom. Paper and plastic are recycled, water is used conservatively as is energy. Students in the Science Club participate in the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Blue Thumb program by monitoring Clear Boggy Creek as it flows through Wintersmith Park in Ada. Science Club members also participate in BioBlitz! and have participated in the Envirothon competition in the past. Ms. Gamble is innovative in her teaching and science club sponsorship and initiates school-wide activities and programs to benefit all Ada High School students.

Congressional District 5 –  Cathy Barber, nominated by the Oklahoma County Conservation District.

Ms. Barber is a teacher at Jones Elementary School where she currently teaches 5th grade language arts and reading. She has been teaching for 24 years and believes we need to teach our children from an early age to be leaders in the protection of Oklahoma’s environment and bountiful natural resources. Ms. Barber coordinates an annual Natural Resource Day with the Oklahoma County Conservation District for the students at Jones Elementary. Jones Elementary School has made a commitment to Oklahoma’s environmental health by “Going Green,” this year’s theme at the school. All grade levels are participating through daily actions like recycling and conserving water and energy as well as special projects.