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Becker County SWCD employees earn state, national awards

Becker SWCD's Marsha Watland (bottom right), who has been a member of the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) Board of Directors since 2016, recently received the Board Member of the Year Award for her work as the Weed Free Forage and Gravel Coordinator. (Submitted photo)1 / 4
John Jaschke, left, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Soil & Water Resources (BWSR) recently presented Becker Soil & Water Conservation District Administrator Peter Mead with BWSR's 2017 District Employee of the Year Award. (Submitted photo)2 / 4
Becker County Agricultural Inspector Marsha Watland, at right, was recently presented with the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) Board Member of the Year Award from NAISMA President David Moorhead. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
Pictured from left to right: John Jaschke, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Soil & Water Resources; Peter Mead, Becker Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Administrator; and Becker SWCD board members Anthony Beck, Eugene Pavelko and Jerome Flottemesch. Not pictured are board members Travis Schauer and Kathy Stenger. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

Two employees of the Becker County Soil & Water Conservation District recently received honors for outstanding performance in their respective fields.

Mead is Minnesota BWSR's Employee of the Year

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced last month that Peter Mead, Administrator for the Becker Soil and Water Conservation District, has been named the 2017 Outstanding District Employee of the Year.

Mead joined the Becker SWCD in 2013. Under his leadership the agency has continued to excel through innovative programs and demonstrated conservation leadership. His dedication to cultivating the next generation of conservation professionals is one of his strengths as a leader.

Mead has built a lasting relationship with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa to bring together labor crews and college apprentices to assist SWCD staff with critical stabilization projects throughout the county.

Mead has also welcomed Detroit Lakes High School interns with a School-to-Work program to instill the importance of conservation in young adults, while also serving as a member of the Detroit Lakes School- to-Work advisory board. Each year, apprentices and interns spend over 1,200 hours with staff members learning and assisting with all facets of conservation delivery in Becker County.

Mead's leadership extends to project planning and development as well. His team developed the newly updated Local Water Management Plan for Becker County. They initiated the South Branch Wild Rice Sediment Reduction Project, which targets prioritized areas with perennial vegetative buffers, filter strips, and waterways to provide the greatest benefit to public waters.

Finally, Mead and his team developed a county-wide lake prioritization tool with Becker County Planning & Zoning, which led to new protections for Natural Environment lakes and spawned the Becker County Targeted Phosphorus Reduction and Lake Protection Project. This project led to various presentations to the Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA), as well as individual lake association meetings explaining phosphorus sensitivity significance, lake- friendly BMPs and stormwater mitigation techniques used for nutrient reduction and lake protection.

"Peter and the team at Becker SWCD are at the forefront of conservation efforts in their community and in the state," BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said. "They are going above and beyond to meet the needs of their citizens and landowners and that's something they should be very proud of."

Watland is NAISMA Board Member of the Year

Marsha Watland, who has served as the Becker County Agricultural Inspector at the Becker SWCD for the past 12 years, recently received Board Member of the Year honors from the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA).

Watland, who was elected to the NAISMA Board in October 2016, has served on the board of the Minnesota Association of County Agricultural Inspectors (MACAI) for the past nine years. The MACAI has been an active member of NAISMA for 16 years and has been part of the growing changes in noxious weed management.

"One of my elected duties (with NAISMA) was as weed free forage and gravel coordinator," said Watland. "The year 2017 brought a lot of changes, specifically with the Gravel Pit Certification Program, which involved updating and meeting the Gravel Certification Minimum Standards.

"Becker County has a Gravel Pit certification Program which helped with Weed Free Gravel Certification Program Development for NAISMA," she added. "We have a strong support of agriculture in Becker County from our County Commissioners and the staff I work with at Becker SWCD. I enjoy working with residents in the county along with all the Cooperative Weed Management Area Partners."

Watland is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture in both Vocational Agriculture Education and Horticulture in Plant Production and Landscape Design Programs.

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