John Peterson of Virginia

John Peterson has a distinguished career in soil and water conservation. He was a professional with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Soil Conservation Service, now Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and currently serves as a locally-elected director on the board of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Fairfax County, Virginia.

John’s work and contributions to conservation are impossible to summarize briefly. He served for years as Virginia’s representative to the NACD Board of Directors, where he actively participated on the Legislative Committee, Farm Bill Task Force and Farm Bill Work Group, and the Urban and Community Resource Policy Group. John’s proximity to Washington, D.C. makes him an easy partner to work with NACD in various roles. His work with other partner organizations such as the Land Improvement Contractor’s Association, National Watershed Coalition and International Erosion Control Association further supports the achievements of NACD and local SWCDs. John’s conservation legacy includes various roles in water resources, especially his long term association with NACD’s Water Resources Committee, and his personal work with Congressman Frank Lucas in the enactment of the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Act of 2000 to rehabilitate aging flood control dams operated and maintained by conservation districts throughout the nation.

John rolls up his sleeves and makes meaningful contributions, from helping to define goals and activities, to securing resources to enhance work. John’s life-long dedication to conservation, and to public and voluntary service, continue to be the foundation and stimulus that provide the driving force for his efforts. John’s drive is also evident in his attention to detail, and his practice of making sure every job is done completely and well. Once John makes a commitment, all who know him are confident that he will follow through. John often calls upon his great memory, experience, and resources to carry out responsibilities.

John’s considerable achievements throughout his life—with USDA-NRCS, the National Watershed Coalition, International Erosion Control Association, Kemps Consultants, as well as many volunteer efforts—are numerous. John helped to pioneer the certification program for Professionals in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC). He is a fellow in the Soil and Water Conservation Society, and served as a volunteer conference manager with the Grazing Land Conservation Initiative. In recognition of his leadership, the Organization of Professional Employees of the USDA established the Peterson Scholarship in in his honor.

John’s work with the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) are also contributions to conservation. His lobbying efforts help further awareness of the important conservation work of SWCDs among decision-makers, and result in more supportive and effective legislation, as well as funding to support the work of SWCDs. John is a strong advocate for assistance to help with the rehabilitation of dams particularly those which are the responsibility of SWCDs.

John served until just recently as Virginia’s representative to NACD’s Board of Directors, a job he not only enjoyed but fully devoted himself to. He was recognized at the state level in 2011 as an outstanding director receiving the VASWCD’s highest honor, the Wilkinson Award. He was honored as Virginia’s inductee into the NACD Southeast Region Conservation Hall of Fame in 2012. There are numerous other deserving accolades that fail to be mentioned here that speak to John’s achievements. John embodies the principles of conservation, has contributed much to the field, challenges us to be stronger leaders, and is well deserving of this highest recognition in the NACD Hall of Distinction.

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