The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) honored leading citizen conservationists and national resource professionals with the 2017 Conservation Achievement Awards at a ceremony held in Jefferson City on March 9, 2018.
Congratulations to all the award winners.
Conservationist of the Year: Mervin Wallace
Mervin Wallace received the 2017 Conservationist of the Year. Mervin is the founder and owner of Missouri Wildflowers Nursery. He's more than a business owner; he is a passionate biologist, ecologist, conservationist, nurseryman, landscaper, educator, and advocate for native plants and ecosystems. He has committed decades of his personal and professional life to advancing knowledge and appreciation of native plants in Missouri. For over the past 35 years, Mervin has played a significant role in introducing native plants to homeowners across Missouri and neighboring states.
Outstanding Lifetime Achievement: Doug Ladd
Doug has professionally served conservation in Missouri for over three decades, first with the Missouri State Parks before spending 32 years with The Nature Conservancy. He cultivated the Conservancy from a volunteer operation focused on free, green space to a major player in science-based protection and restoration of irreplaceable ecosystems.
During Doug's tenure, the Conservancy has conserved more than 110,000 acres of land in Missouri. He played an integral role in developing the Conservancy's 2003 Ozarks Ecoregional Assessment, which serves as a foundational prioritization document for many conservation partners.
Conservation Communicator of the Year: Wes Johnson
Wes has been a reporter with the Springfield News-Leader for more than ten years. As the News-Leader outdoor writer, his in-depth stories often highlight the numerous conservation opportunities and natural resource challenges across Missouri. As an avid outdoor writer, Wes helps tell the story of Missouri's world-class outdoor adventures and increase awareness of our low poaching fines.
Conservation Educators of the Year: Jan and Bruce Sassmann
Jan and Bruce are committed to conservation. They hold educational events for all types of groups on their farm throughout the year. They worked together to restore their 120 acre farm, Prairie Star Farm, in Osage County. Over the years they have been recognized by numerous conservation and agriculture organizations for their work educating and connecting people to the land.
They are currently planning "The Tramp and the Roughrider" for May 2018. This is the second event in their Legends of Conservation series which continues to educate the public on the history and importance of conservation by highlighting American conservation heroes.
Learn more at
Conservation Organization of the Year: James River Basin
James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) is a grassroots, not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization working to improve and protect water quality of the springs, streams, rivers, and lakes in the James River watershed which consists of almost a million acres of land in portions of eight counties.
JRBP celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017, kicking the year off recognizing dedicated volunteers and change-makers each month.
Hunter Education Instructor of the Year: Lee Vogel
Lee is the co-founder of the Missouri Hunting Heritage Foundation (MHHF). MHHF is a service-oriented organization of volunteers who are passionate about Missouri's hunting history. MHHF introduces youth to an outdoor way of life featuring our hunting tradition, the shooting sports, and the and the enjoyment of being in Missouri's natural landscape.
Professional Conservationist of the Year: Bruce Drecktrah
After obtaining a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management and working for a few years in the private sector, Bruce began his career with the Missouri Department of Conservation as an Aquaculture Specialist at one of Missouri's four warm-water hatcheries. Today in his role as Fisheries Field Operations Chief, he leads a staff of approximately 75 employees involved in fish management and fish culture across southern Missouri. Throughout his career, Bruce's skills as an effective communicator have contributed to the success of his projects, staff, and peers. Bruce exemplifies what it means to be a conservation professional in Missouri.
Soil Conservationist of the Year: John Behrer
John Behrer retired in October of 2017 from Missouri Botanical Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR), where he was the 5th and longest-serving director since SNR was founded in 1925. John's leadership simultaneously fostered the ecological restoration of the Nature Reserve and the capacity for the Nature Reserve to serve as a thriving public destination that increases public appreciation and awareness of Missouri's natural communities and their conservation.
Water Conservationist of the Year: Paul Calvert
Paul Calvert currently serves as a Fisheries Field Operations Chief for the Missouri Department of Conservation. In this role, Paul has responsibility for Fisheries Division program implementation across central and north Missouri and in Kansas City.
Paul is well-known for his expertise in entomology and often works with other professionals and the general public to assist in identification of insects and related invertebrates, especially spiders. In this role, Paul has worked through the Stream Team program to enhance training to increase the expertise and efforts of Missouri's numerous water quality monitors. Paul has also worked one-on-one to train both MDC staff and Stream Team participants in the identification of aquatic invertebrates.
Wildlife Conservationist of the Year: Ted Slinkard
Ted is one of the Founding Members and President of SEMO Trail of Tears Branch of Quality Deer Management Association, from the very start in 2009 until 2017, and has been an outstanding and tolerant leader working with many different personalities within the branch. Ted has from the very start, put his heart, soul and his pocket book into getting the conservation group started with nothing expected in return other than the hope that the branch will grow, as well as the understanding of Quality Deer Management growth.
Youth Conservationist of the Year: Ashley Hollis
Ashley Hollis is currently a student at the University of Missouri, double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Science. She is the vice president of Mizzou's political science honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha, and a trip leader for Environmental Mizzou Alternative Breaks, where she will lead 12 students to work with the National Estuary Program to restore coastline and native marsh habitat.
Ashely volunteers weekly at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and is involved in many other volunteer opportunities. Ashley was the CLC President for 2 years and has grown in her leadership, constantly going above and beyond in her roles. She is involved in CFM's Legislative Policy Committee, the Youth Conservation Action Committee and sat on the Board as the President of CLC.
Corporate Conservationist of the Year: Missouri Electric Cooperatives
Since 1936, Missouri Rural Electric Cooperatives have delivered electricity and service to rural Missouri. For many years, Associated Missouri Electric Cooperative has been a CFM Platinum business alliance member and more than 16 regional and county-based electric cooperatives have supported the business alliance at various levels. In addition to the business alliance support, Missouri's Rural Electric Cooperatives offers conservationists a valuable partner from the energy sector of Missouri's economy. Across Missouri, the Electric Cooperatives work to ensure the long-term sustainability of our landscape and have a long history of environmental commitment and collaboration with agencies to protect and preserve natural resources.
If you know someone who has done something special to aid conservation in Missouri, we invite you to nominate them for a Conservation Achievement Award later this year. The nomination form can be found on our website by
The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2018.