The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board of directors honored outstanding conservationists at their annual awards banquet on Friday, January 11th. The event was held at the Stables Event Center in Norfolk.
Outstanding Tree Planter Award
The Outstanding Tree Planter Award is presented to individuals within the district who have shown a strong commitment to the planting and care of trees. The Rodney Wiese family of Oakland were honored as the recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Tree Planter Award. Rodney, and his wife, Joan, accepted the award, along with their son, Andrew.
The Wiese family was nominated by LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom. Bergstrom said, “The Wiese family has planted so many varieties of evergreens, hardwood trees, and shrubs it is almost like an arboretum at their acreage. Varieties of trees or shrubs that they couldn’t get from the Lower Elkhorn NRD came from various nurseries around Nebraska.”
Several years ago, the Wiese family purchased the acreage they now live on between Craig and Oakland, and knew they wanted to put in new trees, specifically to enhance and renovate the old windbreaks that blocked the wind from the north and the west in the winter. In the past 7 years they have planted over 1,200 trees and shrubs and renovated a 2 ½ acre windbreak system all by hand.
When the family renovated the windbreak, they completed a ½ acre at a time by cutting down the old trees with chainsaws and then saving the wood for their fire pit that they utilize for themselves and for the Scouts of America Troops that visit their acreage. Bergstrom said, “When I even mentioned bringing in a bulldozer, they cringed, not at the price, but at the damage it would do to the understory trees. In a world where machinery has made it easy to wipe the slate clean and do a complete demolition with a bulldozer; the Wiese family wanted to save the younger trees and incorporate them into the refurbished windbreak.”
Besides trees, the family also put in solar panels to provide electricity to their home and out buildings. Since putting in the solar panels, the family has noticed a decrease in their monthly electric bill and feel good about producing green energy on their acreage. They also have a large garden on which they do their own version of no-till. Bergstrom said, “They are very contentious about wildlife and planted a variety of shrubs in rows and thickets that allow for habitat and food sources throughout the year.”
Bergstrom added, “They are very deserving of this award. We congratulate the Wiese family as the recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Tree Planter Award!”
Outstanding Partnership Award
The LENRD works with various agencies and partners each year as we strive to improve the quality of life for the citizens across Northeast Nebraska. The Outstanding Partnership Award recognizes excellence in community outreach efforts that highlight our mission of protecting our natural resources for future generations.
At the banquet, the LENRD recognized the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau for their outstanding partnership, and for their efforts in promoting the LENRD’s projects and programs across the Norfolk Area.
The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau has been actively pursuing different ways to get people to stop, look, and learn in Northeast Nebraska. It was about a year ago when Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey, contacted the district about the possibility of partnering to develop a Moon Walk program in our area. LENRD Board Chairman, Dennis Schultz, said, “We formed a committee with the Bureau and other agencies, and before long we had three Adult Education events scheduled. The “Stars, Strolls, and S’mores” events were a big hit with over 250 people attending the learning sessions last summer. The committee has already met with plans for three more events in 2019.”
The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau has also been a big promoter of our Recreation Areas. Schultz continued, “When people are looking for things to see and do, the Bureau has always recommended the Willow Creek State Recreation Area near Pierce as well as the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area near Stanton. We appreciate their support of our area projects.”
As Norfolk continues to grow, and we look for more recreational opportunities closer to home, the Norfolk Riverfront Project has taken center stage. The Bureau was very instrumental in gathering support for the project and working with the Lower Elkhorn NRD to secure funding for this endeavor. Schultz said, “This is an exciting project, not only for Norfolk, but for the citizens across our district, and we are proud to be a partner!”
Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey, and Marketing Coordinator, Stacie Wilken, accepted the award on behalf of the Bureau. Schultz added, “We want to thank you for your continued partnership and we look forward to working with you well into the future as we strive to improve the quality of life for the residents of our district. Congratulations!”
Jill Barr, of Norfolk, was honored for her years of service to the district. Barr was on the board of directors since 2016.
Chairman Schultz added, “Congratulations to all of our winners tonight. We thank you for your hard work and continued efforts in protecting our natural resources.”