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TSSWCB Announces 2022 Conservation Award Winners

TEMPLE — Each year the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts recognize and celebrate individuals that dedicate themselves to the conservation and management of renewable natural resources. These outstanding conservationists were recognized during an awards luncheon on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at the Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston.

The Texas Conservation Awards Program began in the late 1970s to recognize the state’s conservationists and the vital role they play in managing Texas’ natural resources. The program’s purpose is to acknowledge, recognize, and honor individuals that dedicate their time and efforts to the conservation of renewable natural resources.

The program provides an opportunity for competition and incentives to expand and improve conservation efforts and natural resource development, as well as the wise utilization of renewable natural resources. Categories recognized through the Conservation Awards Program are: Conservation Farmer, Conservation Rancher, Conservation Teacher, Friend of Conservation, Poster Contest, Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District, Wildlife Conservationist, Junior Essay Contest, and Senior Essay Contest.  

The subject for the 2022 Poster Contest was “Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.” Geraldine Rosales from Levelland and the Hockley Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) #129, was chosen as this year’s winner. Her poster will advance to the National Association of Conservation Districts Poster Contest in December 2022.

"Healthy Soil, Healthy Life” was also the topic for the 2022 Essay Contest. Ryder Thompson, of Dalhart and the Hartley Soil and Water Conservation District #152, took first place in the Junior Division of the essay contest. Riley Hagdorn, of Devine and the Medina Valley Soil and Water Conservation District #226, placed first in the Senior Division of the essay contest.

Below is a list of the 2022 Conservation Award Winners:

Conservation Farmer – Ashton Raschke, Mitchell SWCD #207

Colorado City resident, Ashton Raschke, representing the Mitchell Soil and Water Conservation District, was awarded the Conservation Farmer Award. Ashton grew up in an agricultural family and in 2013 he began conventional farming cotton on his own. He and his wife, Kelsea, along with their three children know the importance of protecting our natural resources for future generations. The Raschke Farm strives to grow agricultural crops in a manner that reduces wind and water erosion, improves soil health, reduce excessive nutrients and pesticides, as well as improving air and water quality. Ashton’s pursuit to implement a successful conservation focused cropping system in a challenging landscape has proven to be beneficial to the local community and its natural resources; he believes the best thing you can put in your field is your shadow.

Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District – Collin County SWCD #535

Ben L. Scholz - Chairman
Bill Stelzer - Vice Chairman
James C Foster - Secretary
Heather Strait - Member
Rick Foster - Member 

Collin County SWCD #535 was recognized as the 2022 Outstanding SWCD. Located in the Blackland Prairie region, just north of the Dallas Metroplex, Collin County SWCD works diligently to ensure that local natural resources are properly managed and protected. They work diligently to educate and assist landowners with putting conservation efforts on the ground. Collin County SWCD works continuously with engineering firms and developers to ensure the integrity of 99 local floodwater retarding structures are maintained for the safety of its citizens, as well as the infrastructure of the county. The SWCD also has an active EPA 319 grant from the TSSWCB, which has allowed the implementation of over 2,500 Water Quality Management Plans within the Lavon Lake Watershed. 

Friend of Conservation – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Kleberg-Kenedy Counties, Kleberg-Kenedy SWCD #356

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Kleberg-Kenedy Counties (Extension Service) was selected as the 2022 Friend of Conservation, representing the Kleberg-Kenedy Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). The Extension Service provides educational training for private pesticide applicators license, farm worker protection standards, and auxin application. They partner with the Kleberg-Kenedy SWCD, USDA-NRCS, and TSSWCB on several events throughout the year, such as Earth Day activities, local Ag Fairs, and Soil Health Workshops. For many years, the extensive service has promoted and organized the Coastal Bend Soils Sampling Campaign, which allows farmers and ranchers to know exactly how fertile their land is. The Extension Service promotes, participates in, and hosts numerous events with one main goal in mind, to educate individuals on conservation and environmental stewardship. They keep the members of their community at the forefront of everything they do by valuing community involvement, science-based education, and lifelong learning. 

Conservation Rancher – Bar J Ranch, Washington SWCD #348

Jerry Schultz, owner of Bar J Ranch, was selected as the 2022 Conservation Rancher award winner. Bar J Ranch spans over 1,700 acres in and around the Burton area. Mr. Schultz implements several types of conservation practices, such as rotational grazing, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, and herbaceous weed control. Jerry is also involved in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Jerry Schultz has worked tirelessly to improve his ranching business by implementing conservation land practices as well as being a dedicated steward of the land. Mr. Schultz believes that a good cattleman must know his limitations and the limitations of the land. Jerry Schultz and his wife Dinell, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. Their children are still very involved with both family businesses and continue to carry out the conservation mindset instilled in them by their father.

Conservation Teacher – Rosana Ryan, Kleberg-Kenedy SWCD #356

Rosana Ryan was selected as the 2022 Conservation Teacher award recipient, representing the Kleberg-Kenedy Soil and Water Conservation District. Mrs. Ryan graduated from Texas A&I University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. After raising her four children, she began her journey as an educator. She currently teaches science classes for grades 3rd through 5th at Sarita Elementary. Rosana believes that for a science student to be successful, students should be excited and curious about learning. Rosana is dedicated to ensuring that the curriculum she teaches keeps her students engaged and exposes them to real world scenarios. As a member of the Texas Regional Science Collaborative and Outdoor Education Association, Mrs. Ryan has trained with fellow science teachers from the Coastal Bend to integrate technology in the classroom, as well as focus on field Investigations. In addition to the Conservation Teacher Award, Rosana has received the Mirabeau B. Lamar Award of Excellence in Teaching by the Kingsville Masonic Lodge.

Wildlife Conservationist – Kenny Bailey, Lower Neches SWCD #437

Mr. Kenny Bailey was selected as the 2022 Wildlife Conservationist winner. The former Kountze pharmacist has transformed his 215 acres into a fish and wildlife habitat sanctuary and thriving forest. A portion of his pine timber, which was planted under an Environmental Quality Incentives Program contract, can be seen at the entrance to the property. Kenny’s love of wildlife is demonstrated by the enhancements he chose to include in the contract: Forest Wildlife Structures (bluebird boxes, bat towers, brush piles), Forest Stand Improvement for Wildlife Habitat (snags and den trees) and establishing pollinator habitat and ponds. The Baileys love the outdoors and have always enjoyed doing things to enhance wildlife. Kenny has stated, “With the help of the Lower Neches SWCD, USDA-NRCS, Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, friends and others, today this land has become exactly what I was looking for at the beginning of my search.” His ultimate goal is to pass on what he has learned about conservation and become a mentor to the next generation. 

More information about the Texas Conservation Awards Program is available at:

"Protecting and Enhancing Natural Resources since 1939."

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