On April 18, the Boulder County Parks & Open Space Department held the annual Land Conservation Awards ceremony. Here are highlights from the special gathering.
The Partnership Award recognizes alliances with businesses and organizations around the county to foster a community-based stewardship ethic for the preservation and care of open space. Crocs welcomed this award for outstanding contribution to projects at Heil Valley Ranch. Their energetic and hard work ethic consistently delivered high quality products. In their first year of partnership, the Crocs team participated in four projects at Heil Valley Ranch with 61 volunteers. Their initiative continues into 2019 as they were the first partner group to contact the department to set up projects for the coming year.
Land Conservation Award
The Land Conservation Award honors individuals, families, and organizations whose contributions demonstrate notable achievements in preserving Boulder County’s agricultural lands. Elizabeth Black received this award for her dedication to Boulder County agriculture. Over the past decade, Black has been an advocate for the Ditch Project and the Citizen Science Soil Health Project which provides annual soil health testing and education, and promotes broader adoption of practices to improve soil health. Black has secured numerous sponsors, such as Colorado Carbon Fund and Longmont Conservation District, and received a Farmer/Rancher Western SARE grant to cover the first three years of expenses. The community impact of this project cannot be overstated. Increasing soil health and sequestering carbon while maintaining the financial stability of producers is a huge challenge.
Environmental Stewardship Award
The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes individuals, families or organizations that make significant contributions in land protection and/or management. The recipient this year is Janet George for 31 years of collaboration on wildlife management in the region. George strikes the balance between the needs of species and their habitats, and the humans that live and work among them. Whether counting bighorn sheep in sub-zero weather, darting deer to take off unneeded radio collars, organizing and counting great blue heron colonies, or wrangling deer and elk in traps, George has been committed to helping Colorado’s and Boulder County’s wildlife for a long time.
Outstanding Volunteer Award
The Outstanding Volunteer Award honors individuals whose leadership and support of the Parks & Open Space volunteer programs have enhanced our community partnerships and improved public service. This year, there were three recipients.
Betty Musfeldt received the Outstanding Volunteer Award for her contributions as a cultural history volunteer. As one of the first tour guides, if not the very first, at the Agricultural Heritage Center, Musfeldt has served school children and drop-in visitors, presented educational traveling trunks to the community, developed programs, and gathered articles for Altona School that will open later this year. Since 2001, Musfeldt has led 149 cultural history programs. She also has recruited local historians and encouraged them to assist with program development for Altona School. Musfeldt builds rapport with fellow volunteers and staff, old and new and has contributed to many improvements to the department’s cultural history program.
Claudia Thiem and Kathleen Andres are the two leads of an outstanding team of volunteers in the Master Gardener program at the Boulder County Jail Garden Project. They coordinate the teams of eight master gardeners who mentor the inmates as they plan, plant, and produce the harvest for the jail kitchen. Their efforts extend into bettering our community with the donation of excess produce to local food banks. In addition to coordinating volunteer shifts, crop rotation, and tasks for inmates, these two serve as educational leaders and resource guides for fellow volunteers and inmates alike. Annually, the garden produces over 14,000 pounds of produce. However, the value of their work in the jail garden isn’t limited to the actual food production. Inmates chosen to work in the garden are given the opportunity to connect with nature, take responsibility for the success of the garden project, and literally reap the reward of their hard work. In some cases, this project inspires inmates to consider further education or careers in green industry. Thiem and Andres inspire their fellow volunteers with their dedication, and the team they lead is truly working to grow the good in Boulder County.