Conservation district staffs, state officials, and legislative partners convened in State College to honor conservationists during the PA Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. and State Conservation Commission’s 69th Joint Annual Conference.
The awards luncheon took place July 27 at the Ramada Conference Center in State College, PA. The 2016 PACD honorees included--
-- Legislator Leadership Award: Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield). This is award is presented to legislators recognized for their outstanding efforts to further the activities and accomplishments of the state’s conservation districts or PACD on a statewide basis.
(Photo: PACD President Glenn Seidel with Rep. Sankey.)
Since elected in 2013, Rep. Sankey has been very supportive of not only the Clearfield County Conservation District, but conservation districts and environmental issues statewide. He has made it a priority to understand acid mine drainage (AMD) restoration activities, touring several passive treatment systems installed by the district, as well as sites still in need of restoration.
In 2013 he worked with the Deer Creek Watershed Association on a tire cleanup downstream of the future Deer Creek Passive Treatment System in Clearfield County, where he helped volunteers remove over 312 tires from the bank of Deer Creek.
In an effort to promote AMD cleanup statewide, he introduced House Bill 1825, which clarifies liabilities for coal operators who provide water to natural gas drillers for use in their operations, an important step towards addressing Pennsylvania’s AMD problem.
-- President’s Award: Christopher Thompson (Lancaster). Selected by PACD Executive Board President, this award is given, at the discretion of the President, to an individual, organization or agency in recognition of their outstanding efforts that have resulted in furthering the accomplishments of PACD.
Chris was selected for this award in recognition of his advocacy for conservation districts during the Chesapeake Bay Reboot. Chris has been fully engaged in this process from the beginning, attending many meetings, working with partners, and advocating for conservation district involvement throughout the process.
This is no surprise, however, as Chris regularly goes above and beyond for districts. In 2012, while with the York County Conservation District, Chris received the PACD Conservation District Employee Excellence Award in recognition of his work with the PACD Education and Outreach Committee.
Since 2012, Chris has moved into the position of district manager for the Lancaster County Conservation District and his dedication to promote conservation districts, both locally and across the Commonwealth, has only grown stronger.
-- Ann Rudd Saxman Conservation District Director Excellence Award: Kenneth Meck (Lancaster). This award is given to a conservation district director or associate director for his or her outstanding volunteer efforts which have furthered the activities and accomplishments of conservation districts on a statewide basis.
Ken has been actively engaged with the Lancaster County Conservation District since 1998. Over those 18 years, Ken has served on all board committees and is currently serving his second year as Chairman.
He has represented LCCD as a PACD voting delegate for many years, attended several National Association of Conservation District meetings, and has served as either Secretary or Treasurer on the PACD Executive Board since January 2008.
At home, Ken is a lifelong farmer who has raised alfalfa, barley, corn, gladiolus, tobacco, soybeans, wheat, pork-farrow to finish, beef finishing, and pullets. He currently has 150 head of steers and 260,000 pullets.
His community activities extend beyond the realm of conservation. He is active on the West Lampeter Community Fair Board, is a Strasburg Township Supervisor, and is a member of the Strasburg Township Planning Commission.
-- Conservation District Employee Excellence Award: Karl Kerchner (Lebanon). This award is given to a conservation district employee for his or her outstanding efforts that have furthered the activities and accomplishments of conservation districts on a statewide basis.
Karl has been with the Lebanon County Conservation District since 1999 and his statewide contributions are many. Since 2011, he has been an invaluable member of the planning team for the annual Erosion and
Sediment Pollution Control (E&S) training for district technicians across the state. He also developed several useful spreadsheets that he freely shares with other districts, and contributed to the E&S Program Manual published in March of 2012.
Whether it be geology, erosion, soils, infiltration, or construction, Karl is comfortable sharing his knowledge and problem solving skills with anyone. Many of his counterparts from other districts call on him for his advice, experience, and expertise with many aspects of the E&S and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Programs.
-- Auxiliary Student Scholarship: Leah Wenhold (Lehigh): Each year the PACD Auxiliary offers a $1,000 scholarship for Pennsylvania college students majoring in an agricultural or environmental field.
Leah will be a senior at Temple University in the 2016-17 school year, majoring in geology and with a special interest in hydrology.
During the last school year, she served as team leader in a group of five students doing research to recreate the ancient river system at Tyler State Park in Bucks County, PA.
After her expected graduation from the Temple University Honors Program in May 2017, she plans to apply her skills to improving water quality in western Pennsylvania.
-- Conservation District Employee Service Recognition Program Awards: The Conservation District Employee Service Recognition Awards recognize conservation district employees for their years of dedication to conserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources. The honorees include--
-- 30 Years of Service: Donna Fisher, District Manager, Blair; Maryruth Wagner, District Manager, Columbia
-- 35 Years of Service: Ed Magargee, District Manager, Delaware; Greg Phillips, District Manager, Westmoreland
-- 40 Years of Service: Barry Travelpiece, P.E., Resource Conservationist, ColumbiaFor more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. website. Click Here to sign up for regular updates from PACD (right panel) and Like PACD on Facebook.