OACD State Meeting 2010 “The Best Hard Time”

(For more photos from the OACD 2010 State Meeting, click here.)

The 72nd Annual Meeting of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts was held at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City, Okla., Feb. 21-23. The theme of the meeting, The Best Hard Time reflected the idea that in the midst of the hard times of a declining state budget there have been significant conservation accomplishments in the past year. A $25 million bond for conservation combined with more than $16 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal stimulus initiative is resulting in a record period of OCC and conservation districts putting conservation practices on the ground. In addition, NRCS reported delivering more than $81 million dollars in the past year through federal conservation programs. These positive developments were tempered by the challenges faced by declining state funds to support the day-to-day operations of conservation districts. 

At the Monday morning opening session, U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas talked about the importance on conservation in the history of Oklahoma.

“The drought of the 1950s in Roger Mills County was worse than the drought of the ‘30s, but the lessons learned from the Dust Bowl and the conservation practices in place made all the difference,” Lucas said. “The drought of the ‘80s would have been worse than the ‘30s if not for CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).

“Is there any conservation program that is not over-subscribed? That there is not a waiting list for? I define that as success,” Lucas said.

Three candidates for the election for the next Oklahoma Governor spoke at the meeting’s Monday luncheon. The candidates were Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Attorney General Drew Edmondson and state Sen. Randy Brogdon.

A number of awards were presented to honor outstanding conservation activities.

Dan Lowrance and Fredia Rice Named to Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame

image of Dan Lowrance, Jari Askins and County CD board members
Area IV Commissioner Dan Lowrance and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins with Stephens County CD board members and staff.

Dan Lowrance of Duncan, Stephens County Conservation District board member, and Fredia Rice, also of Duncan and secretary at the Cotton County Conservation District, were named to the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame.

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins presented the award to Dan Lowrance, and praised him for doing well in following in the footsteps of a national conservation pioneer, Nolen Fuqua. Lowrance replaced Fuqua upon Fuqua’s retirement from the Stephens County Conservation District board of directors in 1990. Fuqua was nationally recognized as being instrumental in the formation of the state and national conservation associations and for pioneering upstream flood control and other vital conservation programs.

In addition to serving on the Stephens County Conservation District board, Lowrance is currently serving his second five-year term as Area IV Conservation Commissioner, representing 18 conservation districts in the southwest part of the state on the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Gov. Brad Henry originally appointed Lowrance in 2004 and reappointed him in 2009.

Lowrance has served as president, vice president and area director on the board of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. Lowrance also served as chair of the National Watershed Coalition, a coalition of local sponsors of upstream flood control projects. Lt. Gov. Askins commended Lowrance for championing the upstream flood control program at local, state and national levels.

image of Fredia Rice and her family
Fredia RIce and her family.

Fredia Rice was named to the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame as a “Friend of Conservation.” OACD President Trey Lam presented the award, noting that Fredia had worked for the Cotton County Conservation District for 20 years. She has been a strong supporter of OACD’s causes, Lam said, and was instrumental in the forming of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees (OACDE) and serving as president of that organization from 1997 to 2002. She has represented conservation district employees at local, state and national levels. Promoting professionalism among conservation district employees has been among her highest priorities, Lam said. She spearheaded several fundraising projects for youth activities and is known for her salesmanship abilities.

For many years Fredia has assisted with the National Land and Range Judging Contest in which nearly 1,000 high school students — FFA and 4H members — from across the nation come to Oklahoma  to compete. In that role she has served as an outstanding ambassador for the state, Lam said. In addition to her duties with the conservation district, Fredia is involved with many of the civic projects of Walters, Okla.

Virginia Kidd Receives Governor’s Commendation

image of Area Virginia Kidd and Jeanette Nance
Area V Commissioner Virginia Kidd and Governor’s Liaison Jeanette Nance.

Virginia Kidd of Poteau received a Governor’s Commendation on Feb. 22 at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD). The meeting was held at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City, Okla., Feb. 21-23.

Kidd has served on the board of directors of the LeFlore County Conservation District since 1986. In 1996 Gov. Frank Keating appointed her to serve as Area V Commissioner on the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Gov. Keating reappointed her in 2000 and Gov. Brad Henry reappointed her in 2005. In June 2010 will retire from that post having completed three five-year terms. Prior to her service at the Conservation Commission Virginia served nine years on the Department of Human Services Commission.

Jeanette Nance, Governor’s liaison, presented the Governor’s Commendation that read:

“Governor’s Commendation Is hereby presented to Virginia Kidd in appreciation of your more than 22 years of public service to the State of Oklahoma, 14 of which have been spent championing the cause of natural resource conservation in southeast Oklahoma as Area V Conservation Commissioner, and for your 24 years of service on the LeFlore County Conservation District board of directors.

Three Receive OACD President’s Award

Jeanette Nance of Edmond, agency liaison for Gov. Brad Henry, received an OACD President’s Award as did state Sen. Mike Johnson and Rep. Ken Miller. OACD President Trey Lam presented the awards.

Lam said that in serving as Gov. Henry’s liaison to the Conservation Commission for the last seven years, she understands the importance of conservation to the state and takes those issues seriously. During the flooding events of 2007 involving several emergency situations involving flood control dams, Nance served as point of contact within the Governor’s office. She made sure that the Governor and his emergency management team were kept informed of the status of those situations. Following that period, the Governor championed the conservation bond for the purpose of repairing the damages incurred by the conservation infrastructure, Lam said.

“Despite the number of agencies for which Jeanette serves as Governor’s liaison, she finds time to be a regular at many of our conservation events around the state,” Lam said. “She is a quality public servant who is most deserving of this recognition,” Lam added.

State Sen. Mike Johnson of Kingfisher and State Rep. Ken Miller of Edmond also received OACD President’s Awards. Lam said that Sen. Johnson, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Rep. Miller, as chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, had helped pass legislation in the 2009 state legislative session that authorized the bond issue for conservation projects. The $25 million bond package has made possible the repair and rehabilitation of flood control dams and other conservation infrastructure severely damaged by weather events in 2007. Those repairs are underway currently, even in light of severe state budget cuts, thanks to proceeds from the bond. With proceeds from the bond to use as state match, Oklahoma was able to qualify for addition federal money to help rebuild the conservation infrastructure as well. In presenting the award Lam thanked Sen. Johnson and Rep. Miller for their leadership and assistance in conserving the natural resources of Oklahoma.

Coleta Bratten Named OACDE Employee of the Year

image of Bradley Hamilton and Coleta Bratten
OACDE President Bradley Hamilton and Employee of the Year Coleta Bratten.

Coleta Bratten of Taloga was named Employee of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees (OACDE). Bratten has served as secretary at the Dewey County Conservation District for 12 years. She has also served in the office of treasurer on the OACDE board of directors for several years.

In presenting the award, OACDE President Bradley Hamilton said Bratten gives outstanding service in her job at the conservation district and to the OACDE board of directors. In addition she engages in activities including grant writing to obtain conservation equipment, promoting the conservation district’s programs, coordinating local Women in Agriculture meetings, locally-led conservation meetings, land and range judging contests, and serving as chair of the local Resource Conservation and Development Council.

“She has also shown that she will not hesitate to go beyond the call of duty when the need arises,” Hamilton said. “When a terrible wildfire last year put lives at risk in northwest Oklahoma,” Hamilton said,” Coleta went beyond the call of duty by going door to door, warning people in homes surrounding the district office in the town of Taloga of the approaching danger.”

“For her outstanding loyalty to the community and her conservation family, Coleta is certainly worthy to be named OACDE Employee of the Year,” Hamilton said.

Lincoln County Conservation District wins truck donated by Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy donated a pickup truck that was given to a conservation district selected by a drawing. Lincoln County Conservation District won the pickup in the drawing held following the OACD banquet on Feb. 22. “This truck will really help us do our job,” said O.B. Fouquet, board member of the Lincoln County Conservation District.  “Having this vehicle will help us work more effectively with our local cooperators and help them protect and conserve our natural resources.”