National Partnership Recognizes Excellence in Conservation Award Winners


USDA-NRCS State Public Affairs Specialist Rebecca Fletcher: rebecca.fletcher[at]

NACD Communications Director Stephanie Addison: stephanie-addison[at]


Feb. 12, 2019


SAN ANTONIO, TEXASOn Tuesday, Feb. 5, the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) recognized three individuals for their commitment to conservation planning with the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence during the National Association of Conservation Districts’ (NACD) appreciation banquet.

The Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence national awards—one for producers and one for conservation planning staff— is given annually by NCPP to recognize individuals at the local, state and the national level for extraordinary achievements in and contributions to soil and water conservation in the United States.

These awards are named after Hugh Hammond Bennett, often referred to as the father of the modern soil conservation movement, who is credited with raising awareness about the importance of on-farm planning during and after the Great Dust Bowl. He served as first chief of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“NCPP is proud to recognize three more than deserving individuals this year,” NCPP Co-chair Mike Brown said. “These folks exemplify outstanding service to this industry through the development and implementation of sound conservation planning techniques.”

Bruce and Rick Rominger of Winters, Calif., received the producer award, which recognizes a strong commitment to conservation planning, pioneering new opportunities and leadership in the community. The Romingers are fifth-generation farmers who raise sheep, wine grapes, processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, corn, safflower, onions, alfalfa and oat hay on over 6,500 acres near Sacramento. To keep their land healthy and productive, the brothers have installed 22 conservation practices to address resource issues like water management, soil erosion, manure management and more.

Runners up for the producer award include Rod Vorhees of Lazy VJ Farms in Fredonia, Kan., and James E. Biddle, Jr. of Mill Hill Farms in Williamsburg, Pa.

The conservation planner award is new this year and was presented to Brad Wenz,the soil conservationist for the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District in Waite Park, Minn. Wenz was recognized for developing and implementing over 500 conservation plans to address natural resource issues, building relationships that connect people to conservation, training and mentoring young professionals, and collaborating with partners on special initiatives and projects.

Runners up for this award include Mark Green, USDA-NRCS resource conservationist of Springfield, Mo. and Megan Burgess, USDA-NRCS, district conservationist of Kenton, Ohio.


The National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) consists of the NRCS, NACD, National Conservation District Employee Association, National Association of State Conservation Agencies, and National Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils. 

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