Leaders of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts honored farmers, county employees, educators and volunteers for their outstanding work in conservation throughout Indiana during their annual conference awards luncheon Jan. 15 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.
Jeff Meinders, Ripley County, was among 12 individuals and organizations that received awards for their exceptional commitment to protecting Indiana's natural resources and for their education and outreach in their communities regarding water quality and soil health.
Past President Jamie Scott presented him with the President's Award, describing Meinders as someone who thoughtfully supports the local district and IASWCD board and staff. Scott said he appreciated the award recipient's guidance, leadership and encouragement throughout his years of leading the board, and he stated, “I’m not sure how I would have completed my time as board president without him. His input and guidance and dependability often gave me the confidence I needed to press on. He often checked in on me throughout the years and that support was invaluable.”
Meinders was elected to the Ripley County Soil and Water Conservation District board in 1990. He was the board chairman for many years and then became a region director, joining the IASWCD board. He has served in all of the executive board positions. At the conference, Meinders was elected to be the North Southeast assistant region director on the IASWCD Board.
The St. Charles Catholic Church, Milan, member has served on the Ripley County 4-H Corp. board for 32 years and is currently one of three beef superintendents of the Ripley County 4-H Fair.
According to Scott, "Jeff is committed to the mission of preserving natural resources. He has assisted with and hosted several soil judging contests. Jeff has been described as a down-to-earth guy who puts common sense first. He is always willing to mentor new board members and supervisors. His kind approach to others and innovative ideas have guided the district board and staff in numerous ways."
"Committed to raising the leadership on the IASWCD board, Jeff has himself served on various statewide committees and sponsored many local and statewide events, including this conference."
Meinders and his wife, Leah, farm and own Clearwater Simmentals and C&HM Excavating. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Other honorees were Earth Team Volunteer Award: JoEllen DeWitt, retired USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Conservation Farmer of the Year Award: Mike and Susan Brocksmith, Knox County; Friend of Conservation Award (nonprofit category): The Center at Donaldson, Marshall County; Friend of Conservation Award (corporate category): Vincennes Sun-Commercial, Knox County; Friend of Conservation Award (individual category): Sharon Watson, White County (presented posthumously); Supervisor of the Year Award: Greg Flory, Noble County.
Four Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Adams, Bartholomew, Marion and Porter counties, earned District Showcase Awards.
"Many thanks to these award recipients as they are the cream of the crop in their conservation practices. They care about our state, natural resources, water quality and about leaving a legacy for generations to come," said new IASWCD Board President Roger Wenning.