Conservation leaders receive national awards


Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook
(202) 595-9139


DENVER, Feb. 1, 2017 — The National Association of Conservation Districts honored a list of the country’s most influential conservation leaders at an awards banquet held last night during NACD’s 71st Annual Meeting.

The NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award was presented by Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting Chief Leonard Jordan and NACD President Lee McDaniel to Gary and Amy Cammack of Union Center, South Dakota.

Gary and Amy have paved the way for conservation adoption in their state as steadfast advocates for stewardship and civic engagement. Gary Cammack has served in the South Dakota House of Representatives and currently serves in the state’s Senate where he chairs the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Amy, too, is dedicated to serving others. She has been on the Sturgis Community Hospital Board since 1995 and is a volunteer EMT for the Rural Meade Ambulance Service.

The Cammacks host ranch tours for Rapid City School District students to help them understand how food can be grown sustainably. In 2012, the Cammacks hosted the World Wildlife Fund’s Regional Advisory Panel at their ranch, driving home the idea that cattle and wildlife can, and should, co-exist. In 2014, they hosted the South Dakota Grassland Coalition’s Annual Bird Tour.

Gary and Amy are the poster couple for conservation efforts, having utilized a number of NRCS and FSA assistance programs to meet their operation’s stewardship objectives. Most importantly, they are unafraid of failure when it comes to trying new things.

The NACD President’s Award was presented to Roland Quitugua, the NACD board member representing Guam. During Roland’s tenure on the board, he has worked to strengthen and improve representation of the island territories. He has also championed natural resource issues important to the Pacific Island territories, including the management of invasive species.

The NACD Friend of Conservation Award was presented to Smithfield Foods. Over the past few years, Smithfield Foods has partnered with conservation districts from the grassroots level to the national stage. In 2016, Smithfield continued its support of NCF Envirothon – an environmental competition for high schoolers – by providing cash prizes to the winning teams.

In addition to its sponsorship of the international Envirothon, Smithfield gave its employees leave time to volunteer at state Envirothon competitions. In Virginia where the company is based, Smithfield has supported local district outreach initiatives, advocated for district funding, and provided scholarship funds to winning state Envirothon teams.

NACD’s Distinguished Service award went to Bob Warner, NACD Board Member for Colorado. Bob was raised on his family farm outside of Fort Lupton, Colorado. He graduated from Colorado State University with two degrees in biological and physical sciences and went on to serve in the United States Air Force for six years. Even after Bob became a commercial pilot for Continental Airlines, he remained a member of the Air Force Reserves.

Never losing his love of the land and agriculture, in 1970, Bob came home to the family farm to raise corn, sugar beets, alfalfa, and feeder cattle with his father. Eventually, Bob switched the farm to a cow/calf operation, which he still maintains today.

In the 1970s, Bob began working with the Platte Valley Conservation District; shortly after, he became active on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. Most recently in 2002, he was appointed to the NACD Board of Directors.

Earlier in the day, Acting Chief Jordan and President McDaniel presented Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District in Ohio the 2016 Earth Team Award. In 2016, over 28,500 Earth Team volunteers provided 302,000 hours of work (valued at $7.1 million) for NRCS conservation initiatives.

Accepting the award on the behalf of Medina SWCD was Terry Cosby, NRCS state conservationist for Ohio; Mindy Bankey, chief executive officer for the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD); and Kris Swartz, president of OFSWCD.

To view archived video content from this year’s meeting, click here.


The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit:

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