The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Annual Conference was held at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, September 26th – 27th and focused on protecting the future of Nebraska’s natural resources. This year more than 400 Natural Resources Districts (NRD) managers, staff, board members, conservation partners and the public received new information on many natural resources and agriculture developments and projects going on now.
“I’m thrilled Nebraskans see the value in the Natural Resources Districts (NRD) Annual Conference and I’m proud to announce this is one of our biggest crowds yet,” said Jim Bendfeldt, President of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts. “The Annual Conference continues to put a spotlight on new studies, ideas, programs and technology to continue improving our natural resources conservation efforts to protect lives, protect property and protect the future for generations to come.”
Participants had a variety of educational break-out sessions to choose from. Sessions targeted the Emerald Ash Borer threat, Telemetry projects that measure available groundwater resources, the use of drones for water and natural resources management, developing effective drought management practices, flood control projects and much more. Other events included recognition of Hall of Fame inductees, conservation award winners, Master Conservationist’s awards and a speech by Governor Pete Ricketts.
The NARD Foundation which provides financial assistance to youth programs in natural resources and agriculture, raised more than $24,000 this year during its live and silent auctions, golf and shootout fundraisers! These funds will assist in supporting more than ten different educational programs in Nebraska to encourage kids to learn more about our natural resources and consider a career in natural resources.
During the Hall of Fame ceremony, three individuals were inducted into the Natural Resources Hall of Fame. They include James Irwin, former longtime Board member of the Upper Niobrara White NRD, Glenn Johnson, recently retired General Manager of the Lower Platte South NRD in Lincoln and Dayle Williamson, retired Director of Nebraska’s Soil and Water Conservation Agency who was key in implementing law that created the Natural Resources Districts in 1972.
“The inductees of the Natural Resources Districts Hall of Fame are people who’ve changed Nebraskans’ lives for the better by helping shape how this state conserves our natural resources,” said Bendfeldt.
Hall of Fame inductee categories include: Natural Resources District Board Member, Natural Resources District Employee and NRD Supporter which includes individuals outside the NRD system.
- Hall of Fame inductee, James Irwin, was nominated for the NRD Board member category by the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District. He was an elected Director of the UNWNRD for almost five decades from 1972-2013. Irwin has helped educate landowners about the nature of water use and water ownership in Nebraska and supports the chemigation program. He’s also developed the Irwin No-Till Demonstration site on the North edge of Alliance to help local producers and partners adapt to more progressive agricultural practices.
- Hall of Fame inductee, Glenn Johnson, was co-nominated for the Hall of Fame NRD Staff category by Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and Lower Platte South Natural Resources District. Johnson grew up on a no-till farm near Wakefield, Nebraska. Johnson retired this year as LPSNRD General Manager after 44 years of service. Johnson’s accomplishments include the Weeping Water and Stevens Creek watershed projects, the Antelope Valley Project, and the voluntary Integrated Management Plan. He’s credited with lead roles in forging the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance, the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, Authority and the NRD/City of Lincoln Stormwater partnership.
- Hall of Fame inductee, Dayle E. Williamson, was nominated for the Hall of Fame category, Individual Outside the NRD System by Little Blue Natural Resources District. Williamson was born and raised on a family farm near Ohiowa, Nebraska. He served in the U.S. Army, and was a member of the Nebraska National Guard for 30 years. As a leader of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, he worked diligently with the State legislature to form Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts. Williamson was Director for the Commission until 2000 when he retired. He continued to assist in forming the Department of Natural Resources. In total, Williamson served Nebraska’s natural resources agencies for 42 years. In 2001, he was appointed by U.S. Senator Ben Nelson as the Nebraska Agricultural Representative, working diligently on agriculture and military issues, a position he retained until 2013.
Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Conservation award winners include:
- Tree Planter of the Year: Robert Price Family, Burwell, NE – nominated by Lower Loup NRD
- Grassland Conservationist: Lemoyne Dailey, Thedford, NE – nominated by Upper Loup NRD
- Community Conservation: Mullen Public Schools, Mullen, NE – nominated by Upper Loup NRD
- NRD Director of the Year: Richard Hadenfeldt, Dannebrog, NE – nominated by Lower Loup NRD
- Educator of the Year: Ken Malone, Palmyra High School – nominated by Nemaha NRD
Omaha World-Herald and IANR Master Conservationist Award Winners include:
- Agriculture – Ken Seim Family of Chapman, Nebraska
- Community Winner – City of LaVista, John Kottmann, Joe Soucie, Rocky Henkel, and Brian Lukasiewicz