Pennsylvania conservationists recognized at annual conference

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Pictured (left to right) are Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts North Central Region Director Dr. Robert Shannon, PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Richard Negrin, Senator Scott Martin, PA Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Greg Hostetter and Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts President Kelly Stagen. (Submitted photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Several conservationists were recognized during the awards luncheon at the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts’ annual conference July 19.

The 2023 Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts honorees are as follows:

Legislator Leadership Award, presented to legislators recognized for their outstanding efforts to further the activities and accomplishments of the state’s conservation districts or Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts on a statewide basis.

Senator Scott Martin was nominated by the Lancaster County Conservation District. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Martin is a strong advocate for conservation efforts across the state. Senator Martin worked to enact the legislation that created the new statewide Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program which represents a $154 million investment to help improve water quality and soil health. Senator Martin was also instrumental in providing additional funding to conservation districts for their operational needs through the state budget process.

President’s Award, selected by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts 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 the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

This year, President Kelly Stagen selected Tarara Peffer and Piper Sherburne to receive the award. Peffer, the environment and ecology curriculum advisor at the PA Department of Education, was recognized for being a champion of science, especially as the association navigated the changes to the science curriculum standards for Pennsylvania. She has also been a great support person to conservation districts statewide for innovative information and resources, many of which have been highlighted through the association’s education and outreach committee.

Sherburne is the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts’ southeast region director and chair of the Berks County Conservation District board. Sherburne is being recognized for her tireless and valiant efforts to eradicate the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania. She is known locally, statewide and nationally for her knowledge and input regarding this invasive pest. She is a formidable voice to stop invasives across the commonwealth.

Ann Rudd Saxman Conservation District Director Excellence Award, given to a conservation district director or associate director for their outstanding volunteer efforts, which have furthered the activities and accomplishments of conservation districts on a statewide basis.

Thomas Boldin served on the Centre County Conservation District Board continuously since at least 1971. He entered farming at an early age, having grown up on a dairy farm and later making the transition to owning his own farm. In his 50+ years of service to the district, Boldin has served as chairman, vice chairman and has also served on various committees. In the early days, Boldin even assisted with the daily operations of the district in the absence of a manager.

Conservation District Employee Excellence Award, given to a conservation district employee for their outstanding efforts that have furthered the activities and accomplishments of conservation districts on a statewide basis.

Michele Long (Pike County) has been with the district for 20 years serving in multiple roles. She is a state leader, respected and listened to by her fellow managers and employees throughout the state. She currently serves as chair for the northeast region managers’ meetings and statewide breakfasts and helps lead the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts managers’ meetings that take place virtually every month. She is always ready to offer support and assistance to other managers, both old and new, and took a lead role in working with other managers to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conservation District Trash Champion. Conservation districts were challenged to compete to see who could collect the most trash during the months of April and May. The Washington County Conservation District collected 15.6 tons of trash and 746 tires. The Washington County Conservation District has won this award three years in a row.

Conservation District Employee Service Recognition Awards, recognize conservation district employees for their years of dedication to conserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources. Those receiving the 30 Years of Service award include Russell Ryan, the resource conservation supervisor of Adams County, and Bill Zavislak, the Chesapeake Bay engineering assistant of Lackawanna County.

Those receiving the 35 Years of Service award include Tim Matechak, a retired erosion and sedimentation technician for Lackawanna County, and James Pillsbury, a hydraulic engineer for Westmoreland County.

Those receiving the 45 Years of Service award include Barry Travelpiece, a retired engineer for Columbia County.

For more information about the work of the state’s 66 conservation districts, visit pacd.org. You can also follow Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts on Facebook at facebook.com/PAConservation.

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