Celebrating Service Excellence

Celebrating Service Excellence

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District employees, producers receive awards

Four individuals from the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District have received awards in the past week for their service in several areas.

Tom JohnsonCurrent NRD employee Tom Johnson was recognized with the Thomas Jefferson Award from the National Weather Service on Wednesday, February 5. Given to five people each year, this is the highest award for cooperative weather observers. There are more than 12,000 of these volunteer observers reporting daily across the nation on local weather conditions, including temperature, windspeed and precipitation. Johnson has been faithfully reporting this data from his family’s home in Osceola since 1971—including while he was recovering from a stroke in 2011.

Mike Reed, the coordinator of the observer program for the National Weather Service in Hastings, was on hand to present the award to Johnson. “His attention to detail is excellent,” said Reed. “Tom’s observations come in like clockwork.”

Three individuals from the Upper Big Blue NRD were recognized at the annual informational seminar hosted by the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, held in Grand Island on Thursday, February 6. The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partnership supports collaboration between private landowners, agriculture producers, conservation organizations, nonprofits and government agencies across Nebraska to protect, restore, and enhance habitat for millions of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife.

Ken Feather, forestry department manager, was presented with the 2020 Conservation Professional Stewardship Award in honor of his commitment to wetland conservation. Feather, who will retire in February from his role at the NRD, was honored for the 19 years he has spent on the Joint Venture management board. He assisted in the development of several conservation easements that are held by Nebraska Fish and Wildlife as well as the Upper Big Blue NRD. “It’s been a pleasure to work with Ken,” said Joint Venture Coordinator Andy Bishop. “He’s always been able to think outside the box and be a liaison for the partnership back to the board and landowners.”

Kim SiebertDistrict producers Ardell Epp and Kim Siebert were recognized at the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture event as well. Epp, who farmed near Aurora for decades, was honored with an appreciation award for his long service to the Joint Venture management board. Siebert was honored with the Landowner Stewardship award for his practice of grazing cattle as part of a wetlands management system, and for being an advocate for wetlands conservation for more than 20 years.

“We are fortunate to have so many individuals dedicated to conservation in our district,” said David Eigenberg, general manager of the Upper Big Blue NRD. “It takes all district citizens working together, staff members and landowners alike, to keep this region thriving.”