Conservation districts looking for stewardship award nominees

Ruby Valley and Madison Conservation Districts are each collecting nominations for a new stewardship award.

The award will honor a local conservation district resident who has exemplified stewardship and conservation either as a landowner, producer or simply as an active citizen, said Ann Schwend, Ruby Valley Conservation District supervisor.

“One of the things we really want to do is promote stewardship and a conservation ethic and it’s kind of important to celebrate that,” Schwend said.

Both conservation districts will collect nominations for the award through March. Each conservation district will recognize their award winner at the annual Madison and Ruby Valley Conservation District Banquet held in Virginia City April 21.

The idea for the award really started with the Ruby Watershed Council, the education and outreach arm of the Ruby Valley Conservation District, said Rebecca Ramsey, Ruby Valley Watershed coordinator.

The watershed council recently developed a five-year strategic plan and several of the subcommittees working on the plan saw the importance of recognizing outstanding conservation work going on in the district, Ramsey said.

Years ago, the conservation district annually honored a producer of the year, she said. But now they wanted to expand it to take in more of a stewardship and conservation theme and open up the award to other groups of people.

Since the annual banquet is a joint affair with the Madison Conservation District, Ramsey proposed the idea to them and it was a hit, said Sunni Heikes-Knapton, Madison Watershed coordinator.

“We thought it would be good for us to do something similar,” Heikes-Knapton said.

Conservation can mean a lot of different things, as can stewardship and this new award will provide a unique chance to highlight work people are doing along with giving them the public praise they deserve, she said.

“A lot of times the folks who are doing some of the best kind of work aren’t the kind to toot their own horn,” Heikes-Knapton said. “They don’t necessarily do good practices because they want a pat on the back, but they deserve a pat on the back.”

Nominees must reside in the conservation district they will be nominated for. The nomination forms will be fairly simple and can be picked up at either conservation district office.

Each nomination will be evaluated on the same criteria, which will include: how the nominee’s efforts have benefited the natural resources, creativity and degree in success in overcoming stewardship challenges, and community involvement and collaboration.

Each conservation district will have a selection committee and winners will receive tickets to the annual banquet along with a keepsake award presented at the banquet.

For more information, contact Heikes-Knapton at 682-3181 or Ramsey at 842-5741 extension 106.

“We really hope to see a good selection of nominations because there’s a lot of good people around here doing good work,” Heikes-Knapton said.

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