2019 Environmental Excellence Awards

Celebrating those who make a difference for Springfield area's natural environment.

Representatives of 13 organizations presented a total of 17 awards celebrating the efforts, dedication, and accomplishments of a wide variety of recipients at the 18th Environmental Excellence Awards Luncheon held at the White River Conference Center. Each presenting organization at the Awards Luncheon determines their own specific award criteria and selection process as well as their own physical symbol of their recognition – often presenting creative and unique works of art in addition to being meaningful keepsakes for the recipients. Environmental Excellence provides a venue for bringing these local environmental/conservation agencies and organizations together to celebrate those who have made special contributions toward their respective missions. 

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The Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials Management District (formerly Solid Waste Management District “O”) Executive Board recognized efforts toward waste reduction and recycling with their Environmental Service Award.  The District includes the counties of Christian, Polk, Dallas, Greene and Webster. Erick Roberts, Superintendent of Solid Waste Management, City of Springfield Department of Environmental Services and District Board Chair, presented the award to Clay Crawford, Biology Teacher and Recycling Coordinator at Pleasant Hope R-6 School District.  

Clay, a retired Navy veteran, who in the course of working toward his undergraduate degree and, ultimately, his Masters Degree in Biology, worked as a jailer in Dallas County and managed a McDonald’s in Buffalo. One might say the persistence and courage fine-tuned on his journey have been of benefit in both his teaching profession and in his recycling efforts.  Clay started the program with the high school, receiving a small grant from the District. The next school year, he expanded it to the elementary and middle schools, with a second small grant. He also expanded the program to include the local community. This past year, the program included all the schools located in Pleasant Hope. Continuing to expand the reach of the program, a third grant will enable them to have sufficient container space to be completely in charge of their program and to better serve their community, including transporting the materials as needed. As a result of this program, virtually every student in Pleasant Hope school district, regardless of grade or school, has been exposed to the recycling program. Students collect materials from containers in each classroom and they have been instructed on what goes in them and what does not. Members of the Green Team collect materials from each school and at home sporting events, helping people separate recyclables and trash.  Additionally, they are planning to try their hand at recycling food waste material from the cafeteria via on on-site composting area.

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The Tree City USA Citizen Advisory Committee recognized efforts toward protecting and enhancing Springfield’s community forest. Mindy Spitz, Chair, presented two awards.

 

Laurie Duncan - Laurie Duncan, Education Outreach Coordinator with the Sustainability Division of the City’s Department of Environmental Services, is an environmental superhero. It could be said that one man’s trash is just another one of Laurie’s “treasures.” Her endless energy and spunk is admirable, and can turn a topic like earthworms or decomposition into something electrifying. She is an educator at heart and in practice, which is what we need to change the world.  Laurie personifies the positive energy that draws people to learning opportunities and energizes them to both change their habits and to spread the word to others. Incorporating educational information about trees into her other menu of environmental education options came easy for her and has served as a real asset for Tree City USA.

 

Rountree Neighborhood Association - During the process of preparing a neighborhood plan, residents of the neighborhood expressed that preservation of trees was a top priority for preserving the quality of their neighborhood.  This includes preserving trees located on private property as well as in the public right-of-way. The Rountree Neighborhood has also expressed a desire to continue to plant trees through the NeighborWoods program. For preserving and protecting the precious trees in your neighborhood and making the entire city a better place to live, we thank you and with gratitude present you with this award. Nancy Evans, Laurel Bryant, and Jeff Bentley accepted the award.

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The Springfield-Greene County Environmental Advisory Board presented two awards recognizing, businesses, agencies, groups or individuals that have gone beyond normal practices to promote or support sustainable environmentally responsible activities.  Jane Earnhart, Board member, presented the awards.

The Springfield-Greene County Environmental Advisory Board has chosen to honor Bob Smith for his decades of advocacy for the water quality of the Southern Hills lakes.  Jane met Bob when he knocked on her door a couple years ago to discuss the condition of the lakes, donations toward dredging the lakes, and the desire to establish a Community Improvement District (CID) to maintain the lakes into the future.  Bob had gone door to door throughout the neighborhood speaking with each household to build support for water quality. He championed the effort, and did much of the lake trash removal on his own, even pulling a trailer of the collected trash to the neighborhood social event to raise awareness, and encourage more neighbors to join him in the cause.  He went so far as to acquire a notary license to assist with the process of notarizing all the property owner signatures for the CID, and went to the homes of those that couldn’t physically make it to the signing event. Bob and his wife, Henley, have resided on the Upper Lake for the past 42 years. Together, they have monitored the conditions of the lakes and contacted the city and others, as needed, to protect the water quality. Over the years, as areas developed upstream, sediment (as well as goose and duck droppings) built up to the point the lakes became too shallow, too warm, and developed an algae issue. There have been others that have assisted in this effort over the years, but Bob has been the primary driving force throughout the decades-long effort, and the one who has brought everyone together to achieve the work that has been accomplished. There were times he took a break, and closed his curtains – disheartened by the view of the algae covered lake, but he never gave up and the community is so thankful he never did.  Bob is truly are an environmental champion. Thank you so very much for your perseverance and dedication.

Their second award was presented to Erick Roberts, Superintendent of the Solid Waste Management Division of the City’s Department of Environmental Services. Erick joined the City in 2000 and became Superintendent in 2012.  His affinity for the waste management industry appears to be genetic. His father had a very successful career in solid waste management at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and remains, today, in private consulting in the same industry.  This has been a big year for Erick’s Division – seeing two projects critical to the future of the City’s voter-approved Integrated Solid Waste Management System successfully completed. This will provide stable funding for those facilities and services for the foreseeable future and will secure additional landfill space for as much as 90 years, within the current City property.  The myth that trash isn’t important or interesting or any big deal can quickly become a very big deal when it doesn’t just go away when placed at the curb as we expect. Both of these projects included complicated legal, regulatory and political details, involving a number of entities and individuals. Erick’s ability to concentrate on the ultimate goal, his courteous and positive manner, and his ability to keep all the players at the table have served him well throughout these months-long negotiations.  The ongoing responsible management and excellent track record of the Springfield Landfill reflects positively on both Erick’s abilities and on the City’s commitment to the responsible management of the community’s solid waste stream through waste reduction, recycling and re-use and proper disposal. We now look forward to Erick moving to the next exciting, innovative project further utilizing the Landfill as the community resource that it is.

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The Missouri State University Sustainability Advisory Committee is charged with drafting and monitoring sustainability goals, celebrating successes, and collaborating in community outreach programs. MSU includes over 26,000 students, 4,000 faculty and staff members. The Committee has the responsibility to carry out the goals identified as part of the University’s Long-Range Plan. The Committee recognized the recipient’s sustained commitment to environmental excellence programming that makes an impact on environmental excellence, outcomes that indicate that the award winner is making a difference.   

Doug Neidigh, Sustainability Coordinator, presented the Missouri State University Sustainability Award to Jen Cox, Assistant to the VP of Administrative Services at MSU.

 

Since she joined the Missouri State community, Jen Cox has been an example and leader in the area of sustainability. Her impact and influence are not limited to any one area, but have spread throughout the campus and community. Jen began her time at Missouri State University in 2006 with Residence Life, Housing and Dining Services. Under Jen’s leadership, many operational and programmatic changes were implemented to enhance the department’s sustainable efforts, including recycling, waste reduction, energy conservation, and water conservation, working with community partners, such as James River Basin Partnership.  She even included competitions between the residence halls. Jen continued to contribute to sustainability in her other roles on campus: She was instrumental in the Big Urbie water reclamation project. This project created a rainwater reclamation system at Darr Agriculture Center, working with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. She led the Energy subcommittee of the Sustainability Committee and was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a campus-wide energy conservation competition. Following staffing changes, Jen stepped in to serve as the staff advisor for the Student Bike Share program proposal. Jen provided guidance and assistance to the student initiating the program and served as the University contact with the City of Springfield. Jen’s impact is clear and is affirmed in the comments of students, colleagues, and community members.

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Ozark Greenways, Inc. was formed in 1991, with the mission of building a trail system that connects and enhances our community, providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to connect with each other, the outdoors, and their community, while enhancing and preserving our beautiful outdoors. Mary Kromrey, Executive Director, made the presentation to Zeke Kuehn of Wildscape Environmental Services.  

Wildscape is a private consulting firm that specializes in stream and wetland restoration.  They are a mission driven company that strives to use nature’s design to restore and enhance streams and wetlands while weighing the interests of people and the environment equally to create sustainable solutions that benefit the surrounding communities and ecosystem. Their goal is to use nature’s design to restore streams and wetlands to pass on healthy lands and waters to the next generation. Wildscape recently worked with Ozark Greenways on the Frisco Highline Trail Coates Branch Streambank Stabilization Project – a substantial capital improvement to the trail.  The project included other partnering agencies, including the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and was supported by funding from Bass Pro Shops, Ozarks Coca-Cola, and the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation

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The Environmental Collaborative of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks recognized efforts exemplifying partnering and collaborating to foster an appreciation of the role that a healthy natural environment plays in the health and wellbeing of the southwest Missouri region.  Justin Lockhart, Director of Community Collaboratives for CPO presented the award to Ann Wallenmeyer, Coordinator of K-12 Science with Springfield Public Schools.

Ann Wallenmeyer loves kids, science and the natural environment and anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Ann loves her.  Educational field trips, which, before Ann, had not been seen as an important component in learning, have, thanks to her constant advocacy, have become an integral part of the educational learning experience. Now, literally, thousands of students are gaining the benefits of hands-on learning experiences in the field.  Nowhere is this more important than in conservation and environmental education where the necessity of creating that sense of valuing our natural environment and its living creatures, plants and features is critical. Young people will protect what they value and they must have that close bond with the outdoors in order to value those experiences. In Missouri’s largest school district, comprised of 25,000 students, 600 elementary teachers and 100 secondary science teachers, Ann coordinates and supervises the curriculum writing and implementation of K-12 science instruction for 700 classrooms.  These include Explore summer courses and Launch courses aligned with science, and plans, presents and organizes professional learning for K-12 science educators. Her job includes collaborating with community partnerships to provide science field experiences for SPS students and collaborating with colleagues to implement SPS initiatives. Ann is a pleasure to work with, bringing her expertise, her can-do attitude and her excitement for seeing kids learn about our natural environment to every project she approaches. She has earned the respect of all of the various agencies and organizations with whom she so generously shares her time.

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The Ozarks Clean Air Alliance, a subcommittee of the Environmental Collaborative of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, presented an award recognizing efforts made to benefit the health of citizens in the region through air quality protection and improvement.  Daniel Hedrick, Director of Environmental Affairs for City Utilities of Springfield and OCAA member, presented their award to Doug Neidigh, Sustainability Coordinator, Missouri State University.

Doug has over 20 years of experience in the field of environmental quality, including at the USEPA, and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s Air Quality Program, as well as establishing the Center for Sustainable Solutions at Drury University and serving as Executive Director of Energy and Sustainability for Mercy’s multi-state locations.  He has just recently accepted the position as Sustainability Coordinator at MSU. Doug is a founding member of OCAA and was instrumental in assisting in the establishment of a similar organization for a region to the west of us. Doug has a special talent for bringing people together, for recognizing a need and organizing diverse interests toward meeting that need. Per the planning effort Field Guide 2030, OCAA is positioned to be the “airshed advocacy organization” listed as a high priority in the Natural Environment component. Doug has spent the last several months working toward that goal through countless meetings with local and state government officials and agencies, potential stakeholders and partners – all on his own time without compensation.    This is a pivotal time in the history of OCAA and Doug Neidigh has played a large role in its development.

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The Springfield Plateau Missouri Master Naturalist Chapter recognized the outstanding contributions of individuals toward conservation of the natural environment. The Chapter, annually, contributes around 7,000 volunteer hours to local conservation and environmental educational and service projects.  Charles Burwick, Chapter President-elect and founding member presented the award to Barbara Lucks.

Barbara is also a founding member of the Chapter, currently serves as Treasurer and records/reports the Chapter members’ hours. She has personally contributed over 2,000 hours since the start of the Chapter in 2006.  Her professional and her community service resumes are long and impressive, including being Springfield’s first Sustainability Officer during her 22+ year career at the City. She holds a certification from the International Society of Sustainability Professionals’ inaugural class and was recently re-certified. She remains involved in a number of local and state-level boards and committees championing environmental quality. She even initiated and has continually coordinated this annual Choose Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony. Currently, she chairs the Environmental Collaborative and the Council of Collaboratives for the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, as well as serving on the CPO Board. She is a founding member of Ozarks Clean Air Alliance. She is a member of the MSU Sustainability Advisory Committee, chairing the Planning and Administration Subcommittee. She serves as the Vice Chair of the state Solid Waste Advisory Board, and as the chair of Ozarks Headwater Recycling and Materials Management District Advisory Council. In the past, her leadership positions have included Vice President of Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Chair of Springfield Park Board, including the task force recommending the ultimate merging of City and Greene County Park Boards; Chair of the Parks, Open Space and  Greenways Focus Group of Vision 20/20; Chair of the Green Building Task Force, Board member and Treasurer of Ozark Greenways, Inc. and others. The Chapter applauds her commitment to sustainability and many other meaningful leadership roles in our community. It is an honor for the Springfield Plateau Master Naturalists to recognize Barbara Lucks as our 2019 Choose Environmental Excellence award recipient.

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The Watershed Committee of the Ozarks’ award showcases accomplishments that further the protection of Springfield’s drinking water resources.  The Watershed Committee, celebrating their 35th year, works toward their mission, which is “to sustain and improve the water resources of Springfield and Greene County through education and effective management of the region’s watersheds”.  Jason Hainline, Board Chair, presented their award to Errin Kemper, Director of the City’s Department of Environmental Services.

Errin Kemper assumed the role of Director of Environmental Services for the City of Springfield on April 1, 2018, having served as Assistant Director of Environmental Services since January 2013. He previously worked for the City as a Professional Engineer for more than 10 years, serving in the stormwater engineering division of the Public Works Department. Kemper has been recognized nationally as an expert in integrated planning for the environment and has shared the first-of-its-kind Springfield-Greene County Plan for the Environment with communities from coast to coast.  He has been a leading voice in the importance of finding a dedicated source of stormwater funding, in maintaining the City’s award-winning sewage treatment plants, and a thoughtful sponsor representative to the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.  He has been and remains a true leader towards clean water in our communit

The Greater Ozarks Audubon Society recognized exemplary efforts toward their mission of promoting bird conservation in southwest Missouri. Dr. Janice Greene, Professor, Missouri State University and Chair, presented their award to recognize Greg Samuel and his family, who have been keystone volunteers and chapter supporters for more than ten years.

 

Greg is one of those behind-the-scenes types, who makes a difference in Southwest Missouri and across the state, known by his service rather than speaking about his achievements.  Many organizations, and agency representatives in attendance today volunteered in our Chapter’s Toyota TogetherGreen Volunteer Days events in 2008-2009. Audubon members met the Samuel family including beloved daughters Emily and Katy when they joined in those events. Since 2011, Greg has served on the Chapter’s board, led field trips, assumed the Bird Recorder Chair, then the Field Trip Chair. He restyled our Springfield Area Bird Checklists; published a hard-bound Bird Life List/Journal, and a variety of bird ID laminated fold-outs. In 2016, he accepted the Springfield Christmas Bird Count Compiler position (not a fluff post) and has restructured a patchwork of count sub-areas. He literally does the heavy lifting each fall at our annual bird seed sale. One of his businesses, See More Birds, manufactures a wide variety of bird houses, feeders and the previously mentioned publications which are sold at GOAS’s seed sale. He has replaced all the Eastern Bluebird boxes (over 70) on our Chapter’s three trails with an innovative Bluebird Box system, and has supplied Bluebird systems to the Missouri Bluebird Society, with all of these items being donated by Greg and his family. Last but not least, Greg has worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation private lands section to eradicate fescue and restore habitat at his home, situated along the Finley River in Webster County. Recently, efforts started paying off, with a spring fallout of Sedge Wrens present for a brief few days. GOAS says “Thank you, Greg for all you do for GOAS, and the planet!”

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The City of Springfield’s Solid Waste Management Division and Sustainability Division of the Department of Environmental Services oversee and implement the facilities, services, and programs of the voter-approved Integrated Solid Waste Management System and guide City and community Sustainability efforts. Ashley Krug, Market Development Coordinator in the City’s Sustainability Division presented their 2019 Environmental Excellence Award to the staff of the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in recognition of their ongoing recycling and waste diversion efforts.

With a current waste diversion rate of over 50% and the goal of 100% diversion, Medical Center staff are always seeking out new opportunities to better recycle, reduce, and reuse the materials used within their facility, including food waste reduction, textile recycling, addressing construction and demolition waste, and exploring new diversion strategies. The team at USMCFP is setting an excellent example of environmental stewardship in a challenging environment, all the while moving toward to their goal of zero waste to the landfill. The City says, “Thank you to the USMCFP staff for your ongoing efforts!”

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The City of Springfield’s Water Quality Division of the Dept. of Environmental Services works to improve and protect water quality through programs and projects that address stormwater pollution and the health of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.  This year, they presented three awards.

Conco Companies is being recognized for environmental stewardship in industrial stormwater management. Sarah Davis, Stormwater Specialist, presented an award to Ericka Baxter, Assistant Director of Environmental at Conco Companies. Conco has demonstrated a commitment to water quality and environmental excellence in the industrial community. Major improvements were recently completed at the Sherman Street facility, located next to Jordan Creek in downtown Springfield. These improvements reduce the amount of stormwater runoff to Jordan Creek and improve the water quality of runoff through best management practices. At the Galloway quarry and the Nichols Street facility, stormwater runoff is managed with high-performing practices, including a series of settling basins to slow runoff and allow sediment to settle out. The company also recently purchased a vacuum sweeper truck that is used at all three facilities multiple times a week to sweep the pavement. Going above and beyond, Conco installed a butterfly garden at their downtown facility to provide habitat for Monarch butterflies. From regular employee training, to implementation of wildlife habitat, to high-performing best management practices, there is evidence of a company culture that values the natural environment. As Assistant Director of Environmental, Ericka Baxter is the face of Environmental Compliance at Conco. Davis had this to say regarding working with Ms. Baxter, “As a City Inspector, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ericka over the years. She’s creative and optimistic and kind. Her passion for the environment and commitment to excellence shine through in all she does!”

Volt Credit Union and Federal Construction are being recognized for environmental stewardship in the land disturbance program for their voluntary effort to preserve trees on the new Volt Credit Union building project. Kellie Herman, Stormwater Technician, presented the award to Kim Hancock, President and CEO of Federal Construction and Clay Copeland, Superintendent at Federal Construction and to Loretta Roney, CEO and president of Volt Credit Union. Working together as partners, they coordinated with the City to develop a plan for construction. This plan was designed around two trees that existed in the middle of a major grade change and required careful construction of retaining walls to preserve the trees. Preserving trees in this situation took commitment and allocation of time and money. It’s not every day that companies choose to allocate resources to design and construct around trees.  Trees are one of the City’s most valuable resources for stormwater management and water quality protection. These trees will intercept over 8,000 gallons of stormwater runoff every year, reducing erosion and runoff into waterways and increasing infiltration into the ground. Because of the voluntary effort of Volt Credit Union and Federal Construction, our water resources will benefit for years to come.

City Utilities of Springfield is a community-owned utility that works to ensure Springfield has access to reliable and affordable electric, water, natural gas, broadband, and transit services.  As Springfield’s provider of drinking water, City Utilities employees work hard every day to make certain Springfield residents and businesses have a safe and sustainable water supply. General Manager, Scott Miller, presented the award to Chuck Aderhold, CU’s Manager of Water Quality and Optimization.  

Chuck Aderhold has spent his entire career being a champion for safe drinking water. During his 36 years at City Utilities, he has partnered with many local agencies to protect our area’s drinking water sources and maintain the quality of the water. Examples of Chuck’s commitment to our community’s water include a partnership with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, in which an agricultural demonstration site was established to promote the use of rotational grazing that created a win-win situation for the landowner and improved water quality in the area.  During his tenure, he once again partnered with the Watershed Committee to further expand the groundwater monitoring of the springs and wells to protect Springfield’s public water supplies. Chuck’s work with the Missouri Department of Conservation has helped prevent the spread of the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla. Because of the contributions of Chuck and his team, City Utilities has received the American Water Works Association’s Partnership for Safe Water Director’s Award for the last 20 years. This award is given to utilities who meet strict guidelines proving they are providing their communities with safe drinking water. Chuck’s enthusiasm for protecting Springfield’s water supply is contagious.  Throughout his career, Chuck has served as a mentor to many employees and students. To them, he has become a role model of environmental stewardship.

The Environmental Bulletin Board for the Ozarks Region