NACD honors conservation leaders, elects new officer team


NACD honors conservation leaders, elects new officer team

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 4, 2015 — The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) honored conservation leaders at an awards banquet last night during the 2015 NACD Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Also at the banquet, the 2015-2016 NACD officer team and members of the Executive Board were sworn into office.

The NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award was presented to Mike Thralls of Billings, Oklahoma. Thralls is a lifetime farmer who has served as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission for the past 17 years.

“Mike is a pioneer of voluntary conservation in Oklahoma, both in his service to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and on his farm,” said Jason Weller, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “I am grateful for his leadership in protecting our nation’s natural resources and encouraging fellow farmers to use conservation practices that boost soil health, promote clean water and air, and enhance wildlife habitat. Mike has cultivated a strong relationship between the conservation districts and NRCS, which has broadened the footprint of sustainable agriculture across Oklahoma.”

The NACD President’s Award was presented to Tim Palmer, NACD executive board member and farmer from Iowa.

“Tim Palmer is an individual with the ability to provide leadership on the national level in support of our conservation efforts in America and it territories,” said NACD President Earl Garber. “Even as he works hard to maintain his family farming operation at home, he always finds time to provide conservation leadership to his local neighbors, Iowa state producers and nationally with his tireless work as part of NACD leadership team.”

The NACD Friend of Conservation Award was presented to Charlie Schafer, President of Agri Drain Corporation, Adair, Iowa. Charlie has been a longtime supporter of soil and water conservation in Iowa and across the United States. His company, Agri Drain, has developed and improved innovative products and supported conservation contractors and landowners in their conservation work. Over the years, Charlie has supported NACD as an exhibitor at the Conservation Expo, as a sponsor of the NACD Annual Meeting, and by serving as the CTIC representative on the NACD Executive Board.

The NACD Distinguished Service Award was presented to Don and Mary Jane Spickler of Washington County Soil Conservation District, Williamsport, Maryland. Don and Mary Jane Spickler have been actively involved with conservation districts at the local, state and national level for over 42 years.  While Don advanced from serving on his local district board to state and national positions, Mary Jane advanced in her position of involvement alongside him through the Auxiliary, supporting the soil and water stewardship program and the NACD poster contest.

During the banquet, the new NACD Officer team was sworn into office. NACD President-elect Lee McDaniel of Darlington, Maryland was officially sworn in as President, taking over for 2013-2014 President Earl Garber upon the completion of his term. Former Second Vice President Brent Van Dyke of New Mexico was elected as First Vice President; former Secretary/Treasurer Dick Went of Rhode Island was elected as Second Vice President; and John McDonald, Executive Board member from Oregon, was elected as Secretary/Treasurer.

Earlier in the day, NRCS Chief Jason Weller and NACD President Earl Garber announced the winner of the 2014 Earth Team Award: Stone County Conservation District of Mountain View, Arkansas. The Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of NRCS, serving as an integral part of the conservation partnership

Photos are posted on NACD’s Flickr.

The 2015 NACD Annual Meeting is sponsored by the following partners: Agri Drain Corporation; Apache; Bayer CropScience; Bob Warner; Case IH; John Deere; Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts; Monsanto; National Farmers Union; Plum Creek; Scotts Miracle-Gro; Syngenta; U.S. Forest Service; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Verdesian.


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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