Conservation District Staff Recognized For Work To Improve PA’s Environment

The State Conservation Commission recently recognized two individuals and four county conservation districts for their work to improve Pennsylvania’s environment through sound and innovative conservation practices.

            “These conservation leaders are efficient and responsible stewards of our natural resources,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “Each of us has a shared responsibility to protect Pennsylvania’s natural resources, and I thank these committed individuals and conservation districts for leading the charge to protect the land and water upon which we all rely.”
            Bruno Najaka, from the Sullivan County Conservation District, was honored with the commission’s Distinguished Service Award. Najaka dedicated more than 30 years to reclaiming hundreds of acres of abandoned mine land in Sullivan County. His work to restore the water quality of local streams and natural habitat affected by mine drainage has enabled wildlife and aquatic life to return to their native environment.
            John Orr and the Luzerne County Conservation District earned the Conservation Leadership Award for their outstanding leadership and dedicated commitment to the establishment and growth of the state’s conservation districts.
            Throughout his career as district manager for the Dauphin County Conservation District, Orr shared his management and planning expertise with any district that needed assistance. He developed a strategic vision and financial strategy for his district that were used as examples by districts across the state.
            The Luzerne County Conservation District was recognized for its development over the past decade driven by an ongoing strategic planning and action process to address high priority environmental challenges. Additionally, district board members volunteer their talents and resources to help carry out programs and activities of the district and its many partners.
            The District Director Attendance Awards recognize the local efforts of Pennsylvania’s 66 conservation districts whose nearly 500 directors volunteer their time to help plan, direct and assist with programs to preserve their county’s resources. First place went to the Jefferson County Conservation District, with 92.8 percent attendance. Berks County Conservation District was second place with 90.4 percent, and Huntingdon County Conservation District was third with 89.6 percent attendance. 
            Several conservation districts were recognized for celebrating milestone anniversaries. Conservation districts in Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Lawrence, Northampton, Sullivan and Venango counties were recognized for 50 years of service. The Bradford, Franklin, Greene, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montgomery, Pike and Snyder conservation districts were recognized for 55 years. Conservation districts in Allegheny, Berks, Clarion, Clinton, Jefferson, Lehigh and Tioga counties celebrated 65 years of service.
            Edward “Ted” Kuckuck was recognized as the longest serving board member of the State Conservation Commission, with 25 years of service.
            Award winners were honored on July 12, as part of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts and State Conservation Commission annual awards luncheon in State College, Centre County.
            The Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection oversee the State Conservation Commission, which is a 14-member panel that provides oversight and supports the state’s 66 county conservation districts.


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