Every year, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts recognizes special accomplishments by individuals in natural resource conservation in recognition of the outstanding work accomplished by those in our community. We are pleased to publish our 2021 award winners!
Vim Wright Building Bridges: Bill Blake
WACD gives this award to a person who has worked within the arena of conservation to foster understanding, partnerships, and greater conservation through collaboration. This award is given in honor of Vim Wright, a long-time member of the Washington State Conservation Commission who passed away in 2003. Vim worked tirelessly to bring agricultural and environmental representatives together to work on conservation projects and to develop a better mutual understanding.
This year’s recipient was described as the embodiment of partnership and bridge-building. He has served in numerous conservation district leadership roles, including Chair of the Puget Sound Caucus and President of the Washington Association of District Employees. His work within Skagit CD and many local groups has created connections among many natural resource groups.
Congratulations to Bill Blake, Skagit Conservation District.
Wayne Reid Young Tiger: Barbara Bailey
WACD gives this award to a supervisor who has jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. The individual is someone who has really helped the district meet its goals and objectives in a short period of time. This individual must have served as a supervisor for less than six years.
Appointed in 2017, this supervisor brought deep expertise, genuine enthusiasm, and unfailing support to her conservation district as well as to WACD She invested innumerable hours in the creation of the district’s new retirement program this summer, in keeping with the character of someone who became a South Central Area Director in her second year. of service. She is a stalwart supporter of the district and leads her local farming community by demonstrating conservation programs.
Congratulations to Barbara Bailey, Underwood Conservation District.
Special Service: Betsie DeWreede, David Iyall, TJ Johnson, and Helen Wheatley
WACD gives this award to those who have made an outstanding contribution in the field of conservation.
This year, these recipients are extra special. Everyone has likely heard of the turbulence that the Thurston CD experienced in recent years that culminated in the Washington STate Conservation Commission removing two supervisors and a third supervisor choosing to quit. This award is being given to the four Thurston CD supervisors who joined the board since that time: Betsie DeWreede, David Iyall, TJ Johnson, and Helen Wheatley.
These four supervisors helped guide the district in rebuilding over the last two years:
- Reestablishing trust within the local community
- Re-engaging in community activities
- Launching new projects like the Skookumchuck River restoration project which was featured in a national magazine
- Rebuilding the operations of the district to 15 staff to help address Thurston’s natural resource issues.
Congratulations to Betsie DeWreede, David Iyall, TJ Johnson, and Helen Wheatley, all supervisors on the Thurston Conservation District board of supervisors.
Eugene Schloz Supervisor of the Year: Libby Reed
WACD gives this award to an Outstanding Conservation District Supervisor who has made an especially valuable contribution to district conservation programs or to the state conservation movement. This award is given in honor of Eugene “Gene” Schloz, a supervisor with Grays Harbor Conservation District who served from February 1977 to November 1988. Gene was a dedicated individual and contributed unsparingly of his time in support of the conservation movement before his passing in 1988.
Our award winner has been described as dedicated and thoughtful. She hosts field trips on her farm and provides educational opportunities for all ages. She recently implemented a large-scale riparian habitat restoration/salmon recovery project on her property.
Congratulations to Libby Reed, Snohomish Conservation District.
Conservation District of the Year: Columbia Conservation District
We recognize six conservation districts that were recently honored by the Washington State Conservation Commission:
- Columbia CD
- Kittitas County CD
- Okanogan CD
- Pacific CD
- Snohomish CD
- Spokane CD
The Awards Committee struggles each year with selecting just one conservation district of the year. This year, the deciding factor was the size of the conservation district and the good work being done, even if recognition of that good work doesn’t appear on the front page of a newspaper.
The Columbia Conservation District demonstrated:
- Outstanding work with landowners in the development and implementation of conservation projects throughout the District, including innovative soil health improvement trials pertaining to pH and nutrient availability.
- Outstanding accountability for public funds and transparent district operations, including maintaining a good standing under the Conservation Accountability and Performance Program and achieving a clean audit from the State Auditor’s Office.
- Continuing to develop and complete large and complex conservation projects in the District during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Working to increase the reach of the District by developing a new website and a newsletter publication.
WACD is pleased to award the 2021 WACD Conservation District of the Year to the Columbia Conservation District.