NRD's Annual Conference Focuses On Protecting the Future of Nebraska Natural Resources

(Kearney, NE) – The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Annual Conference was held at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, September 22nd-24th and focused on protecting the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.  This year more than 375 Natural Resource District (NRD) managers, staff, board members, and conservation partners get together to learn more about protecting Nebraska natural resources.    
“These conferences are an important way for our districts and other agencies to meet and share their ‘best management practices’ so the NRDs can do the best job possible of protecting lives, protecting property and protecting the future of our natural resources,” said Joe Anderjaska, President of the NARD Board of Directors.
Conference keynote speakers included Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heideman, and opening remarks from partnering agencies. Participants had a variety of educational break-out sessions to choose from during the event.  Session topics ranged from a legislative update to updates on federal programs and several presentations on water quality and quantity management.  Other events include NRD basin meetings and recognition of conservation award winners and Master Conservationists. The NARD Foundation live and silent auctions where held after the Awards Banquet and combined with other events; over $21,000 dollars were raised to support educational programs.
During the Awards Banquet three individuals were inducted into the Natural Resources Hall of Fame inaugural inductees recognized include: Ron Bishop, Central Platte NRD; Dick Mercer, Central Platte NRD; and the late State Senator Maurice Kremer.
“This is an exciting time for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame recipients,” said Anderjaska. “The purpose of the Natural Resources Hall of Fame is to reward individuals for service and commitment to natural resources conservation and these three inductees are very deserving individuals,” said Anderjaska.
The Hall of Fame is designed to recognize outstanding effort and dedication to conservation, resulting in improving natural resources in Nebraska. There are three Hall of Fame categories including: Natural Resources District Board Member, Natural Resources District Employee and NRD Supporter which includes individuals outside the NRD system. 
·        Ron Bishop was nominated by the Central Platte NRD.  Bishop retired in June of 2013 as the manager at the Central Platte NRD and had served in the position since the district was formed in 1972.  Bishop has played a critical role in helping to develop the NRD structure and promoting natural resources conservation. 
·        Dick Mercer has been dedicated to natural resources as a director and board member of the Central Platte NRD since 1972.  Prior to that he was director on the Buffalo-Ravenna Soil and Water Conservation District.  Mercer was nominated by the Central Platte NRD.
·        Senator Maurice Kremer was nominated by the Upper Big Blue NRD for his exceptional leadership in the Nebraska Legislature for the enactment of the laws creating Natural Resources Districts and the Nebraska Groundwater Management Act. The award was given posthumously and was accepted by his son, former State Senator Bob Kremer.
Nebraska Association of Resources Districts award winners include:
·        Director of the Year – Orval Gigstad from Nemaha NRD; nominated by Nemaha NRD
·        Educator of the Year – Jan Zink from Norris High School; nominated by Nemaha NRD
·        Outstanding Grassland Award – Alvin Kruml from Sargent, Nebraska; nominated by Lower Loup NRD
·        Outstanding Community Conservation – City of Sidney; nominated by South Platte NRD
·        Outstanding Tree Planter – Forney Ranch from Alliance, Nebraska; nominated by the Upper Niobrara White NRD
Omaha World-Herald and IANR Master Conservationist Award Winners include:
·        Agriculture - Scott Stout Ranch from Curtis, Nebraska.  Nominated by Doug Whisenhunt, Natural Resources Conservation Services.
·        Community Winner –Six Mile Canal Company from Gothenburg, Nebraska.  Nominated by Ron Bishop, Central Platte NRD.