Awards Archive

The information below may not capture all awards and their recipients. If you have a correction, new information to add, or photos of our missing recipients, please email info[at]

NACD Friend of Conservation Award

The Friend of Conservation Award recognizes an individual, business, organization, or agency outside the association for outstanding contributions to the conservation of our nation’s natural resources. Any individual, business, organization or agency that is not directly associated with conservation districts at the local, state, or national level is eligible to receive this award.

Friend of Conservation Award recipient not pictured: 

  • 2005: EDCO Publishing, Auburn Hills, Mich.

NACD Distinguished Service Award

The NACD Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual within the association, a conservation district, or a state association that has made significant contributions to the conservation and proper management of our nation’s natural resources. Nominees can be involved with districts or the association at any level, including past NACD officers.

Distinguished Service Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2005: Shonny Nordlund, Fergus County Conservation District, Lewistown, Mont.
  • 2004: Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Va.
  • 1995: George Cason, Texas
  • 1984: Senator John Melcher, Mont.
  • 1983: Senator Roger Jespen, Iowa, and Congressman Ed Jones, Tenn.
  • 1982: Senator Jennings Randoph, W. Va.
  • 1979: Floyde Heft, Ohio
  • 1977: Donald McAlister, Ill.
  • 1976: Senator Herman Talmadge, Ga.
  • 1975: Warren Fairchild, Neb.
  • 1974: Senator Gale McGee, Wyo.
  • 1973: Congressman W.R. Poage, Texas
  • 1972: Mary Garner, NACD General Counsel
  • 1971: Congressman Jamie Whitten, Miss. 


  • 1970: Philip M. Glick, NACD General Counsel, Md. 
  • 1969: Congressman Clifford Hope, Kan. 
  • 1969: Victor Hilt, Goodyear, Ohio
  • 1967: A.D. Holmes, NACD Director, Ala. 
  • 1966: Herbert Eagon, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Ohio
  • 1965: William Klein, Allis Chalmers, Wis. 
  • 1964: Herb Plambeck, WHO Radio, Iowa
  • 1963: Charles Stoddard, WDC-BLM
  • 1962: Susan Myrick, Macon Telegraph, Ga. 
  • 1961: Kent Leavitte, N.Y.
  • 1960: Don Settle, Goodyear, Ohio
  • 1959: C.R. “Pink” Gutermuth, WDC Wildlife Management Institute 
  • 1951: Hugh Hammond Bennett, WDC Soil Conservation Service

NACD President’s Award

Chosen by the NACD President, this award recognizes an individual or organization that has been especially dedicated to advancing conservation during the president’s term.

Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award

On December 7, 2007, conservation lost a friend and outstanding leader in NACD President Olin Sims. Sims was a rancher from McFadden, Wyo., who devoted years of distinguished service to conservation initiatives at the state and national levels. In tribute to Sims’ memory, and to help further promote and recognize outstanding conservation leadership at the state and local levels, NRCS and NACD jointly established the Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award.

Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2020: Jamie Johnson, Frankfort, S.D.
  • 2016: Gary and Amy Cammack, Union Center, S.D
  • 2015: Larry “Skip” Ahlgren and Diane Ahlgren, Winnett, Mont.

Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence

Invoking the leadership and dedication of Hugh Hammond Bennett, the father of the modern soil conservation movement and the first chief of the Soil Conservation Service (now Natural Resources Conservation Service), the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence (Bennett Award) recognizes a producer and conservation planners from within the NCPP and our partners who have exemplified outstanding service through development and implementation of sound conservation planning and other conservation techniques. This award is sponsored by the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP).

The producer award is presented each year to a producer who demonstrates a commitment to conservation planning, pioneering new opportunities and leadership in the community. The conservation planner award is given to an individual who demonstrates a high standard of conservation planning and implementation for customers, as well as sharing his/her expertise with others. You can learn more about the awards here

Producer Award Recipients:

Conservation Planner Award Recipients:

NACD/NRCS Earth Team Award

Since 1985, Earth Team volunteers have worked side by side every day with conservation professionals to deliver conservation practices on private lands. The NACD/NRCS Earth Team award serves to recognize those who volunteer their time, resources and energy to protect and improve the quality of our nation’s natural resources.

NACD/NRCS Earth Team Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2020: Cass and Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the NRCS Baxter Field Office, Minnesota

NACD Rich Duesterhaus Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors someone who has made a sustained contribution of excellence in conservation field. The recipients are credited with changing the world and inspiring others to do the same.   

NACD Special Service Award

The National Association of Conservation Districts gives this award to a conservation district leader who has made outstanding contributions to the National Association of Conservation Districts.

NACD Special Service Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2004: L.H. Burnett, Pelham, Tenn.
  • 1995: Herbert “Bussie” York, Maine
  • 1984: George Bagley, La.
  • 1983: Amos Funk, Pa.
  • 1982: Monroe Samuel, Ark.
  • 1979: Doyle Hutcheson, Texas
  • 1977: Richard C. Longmire, Okla.
  • 1976: Gordon Zimmerman, Texas
  • 1975: Robert Bowers, N.C.
  • 1974: Ed Felton, Va.
  • 1973: William E. Richards, Neb.
  • 1972: Charles M. Ladd, N.C.
  • 1971: Milton Fricke, Neb.
  • 1970: Marion Monk, La.
  • 1969: Francis Lindsay, Calif.
  • 1968: Wm. Bennit, Minn., R. Lester Hill, Mich., and W.M. Hodgson, Ala.
  • 1967: Walter Groom, Co., and Ruel Conly, La.
  • 1966: WLW Radio/TV, Ohio, Wes Cornwell, Wash., and Dan Paugh, W. Va.
  • 1965: Nolan Fuqua, Okla.
  • 1964: Frank Gyberg, Ariz.
  • 1963: Everett Barr, Neb.
  • 1962: George Hildner, Mo.

NACD Professional Service Award

The National Association of Conservation Districts gives this award to employees of conservation districts, state associations, state or federal agencies on the basis of exceptional service in furthering the cause of conservation districts, strengthening the conservation partnership and assisting the programs of NACD.

NACD Professional Service Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2004: J. Randy Young, Little Rock, Ark.
  • 2003: Angela Ehlers, Executive Director, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, Pierre, S.D.
  • 1995: Roland Geddes, NASCA, Va.
  • 1984: Robert Williams, De.
  • 1983: John Parris, S.C.
  • 1982: William Ratledge, De.
  • 1981: Leonard Solomon, Okla.

NACD Special Recognition Award

NACD Special Recognition Award recipients not pictured:

  • 2003: Larry Payne, Washington, D.C.
  • 1991: Richard Foell, Manager of Industry Affairs, ICI Americas Inc., Wilmington, De.
  • 1986: Warren Suchovsky, Mich.
  • 1984: Philmont Scout Ranch, N.M.
  • 1983: The Joyce Foundation, Ill., and Ray Oviatt, Ohio

NACD Business Conservation Leadership Award

NACD Business Conservation Leadership Award recipients not pictured:

  • 2004: Tom Slyke, President, American Loggers Council, Cleveland, Texas
  • 2003: Plum Creek Timber Co., Inc., Seattle, Wash.
  • 2002: Monsanto, St. Louis, Mo.
  • 2001: Canon USA, Lake Success, N.Y.
  • 2000: Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, Farmington, N.M.
  • 1999: Weyerhaeuser Corporation, Tacoma, Wash.
  • 1995: Pittsburgh & Midway Coal Mining Co., N.M.
  • 1984: Maui Land & Pineapple, Co., Hawaii
  • 1983: Archer Daniels Midland Co., Ill.
  • 1982: Chevron Chemical Co., Calif.
  • 1981: Colowyo Coal Co., Co.
  • 1979: PA Power & Light Co., Pa.
  • 1978: The McIlhenny Co., La.
  • 1977: The McIlhenny Co., La.
  • 1976: Caterpillar Tractor Co., Ill.
  • 1975: Eaton Corporation, Mich.
  • 1974: Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Ohio

NACD Communications Award

NACD Communications Award recipients not pictured:

  • 2003: Tom Quink, Forestry Notes, North Port, Fl.
  • 1997: Roger D. Randall, Farm Journal
  • 1995: Allan Burke, Emmons Co Record Prairie Pioneer Selby Record, Ohio
  • 1984: Al Gustin, ND Meyer Broadcasting Co.
  • 1983: Ed Johnson, Agri-Communications, Inc., Ohio
  • 1982: Gay Cook, The Denver Post, Co.
  • 1981: May Roesner, Daily Dispatch, Ill.
  • 1979: Michael Gartner, Des Moines Register, Iowa
  • 1977: Marvin Peny, Jr., KTBS-TV, La.
  • 1976: Morris HallockSturgis Tribune, Tri-State Livestock, Black Hill Press, S.D.
  • 1975: Ben Leonard, WFBC-TV & Radio, S.C.
  • 1974: Lynn Adair, KSL-TV & Radio, Utah
  • 1973: Orion Samuelson, WGN Radio, Ill.
  • 1972: Ernest Douglas, Arizona Farmer-Ranchman, Ariz.
  • 1971: Barry Bingham, Courier Journal & Louisville Times,
  • 1970: Carl Carlson, Colorado Rancher & Farmer, Co.
  • 1969: Ed Wilborn, The Progressive Farmer, Tenn.
  • 1968: Leland Duvall, Arkansas Gazette, Ark.
  • 1967: Walter Humphrey, Forth Worth Press, Texas

Excellence in Communications Award

The AEM/NACD Excellence in Communications Awards recognize two conservation districts for their outstanding overall communications efforts. Districts are judged on their effective and successful use of one or more media types to achieve a desired outcome.

Excellence in Communications Award recipients not pictured:

  • 2005 Top Winner: Westmoreland Conservation District, Greenburg, Pa.
  • 2005 Honorable Mention: Cuyahoga SWCD, Valley View, Ohio

NACD/AEM Excellence in Conservation Equipment and Technology Use Award

NACD/AEM Defining Conservation Equipment Needs for the Future Award

Collaborative Conservation Award

The Collaborative Conservation Award recognizes conservation districts that exemplify innovative, collaborative conservation efforts by drawing upon various partnerships (traditional and non-traditional), utilizing diverse funding sources, and/or conducting a wide range of projects to address their community’s conservation resource needs.

Partnership Diversity Awards

Three Partnership Diversity Awards recognize a conservation district, an RC&D Council and a state conservation agency that are addressing diversity needs to improve delivery of conservation programs. Partners included in the award include NACD, NRCS, NCDEA, NASCA and NARC&D.

Partnership Diversity Award recipients not pictured: 

  • 2005 Conservation District recipient: Jasper County SWCD, Bay Springs, Miss.
  • 2005 RC&D Council recipient: First State RC&D Council, Dover, De. 
  • 2005 State Conservation Agency recipient: Washington State Conservation Commission, Olympia, Wash.

NACD “Visionary Partner” Award

In 2014, this award was given to Dow Agrosciences for their continued support and sponsorship of NACD, and as the Premier Sponsor of the 2014 Summer Board Meeting and Soil Health Forum and Tours.

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