Indiana Association of  
Soil and Water Conservation Districts

News from the IASWCD

For release: Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Eight Soil and Water Conservation District Employees Honored
Photo available on Google. Recipients present in photo were: IDEA members Jan Came presented the award (far left) to Kim Jolly, Ripley County; Meg Leader, Vermillion County; Jeri Ziliak, Posey County; and Marsha Ralston, Lawrence County. Ann Ice, IDEA, far right, also assisted in the presentation.

Indianapolis -- Eight Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff received the Indiana District Employees Association (IDEA) Star Awards tonight. The awards were presented as part of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts' (IASWCD) annual Conservation Awards Banquet. The award is presented each year by IDEA to SWCD staff for their outstanding work serving their constituents and conservation partners in 2012.  


The North-Northwest Region winner is Ethel Turkowski, LaPorte County SWCD. Turkowski is a dedicated and conscientious employee to whom "going above beyond the call of duty" is the norm not the exception. Most recently, she did an outstanding job organizing many details for the Indiana District Employees Association 2013 Conference. She responded with grace and patience to offer District employees a conference filled with special touches. She divides her work days between the SWCD and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices. She helps to maintain a strong conservation partnership between the agencies.  

Nancy Brown, far right, talks about natural resources to a group.

The North-Northeast region Star recipient is Nancy Brown from the Elkhart County SWCD. Over the course of her long career with the District, Brown has done it all - conservation technical assistance, education, administration, etc. Her dedication and service to land users has always been top quality. She always reaches out to partners to make the SWCD's work most effective. This includes traditional partners like the NRCS and Indiana State Department of Agriculture, as well as "non-traditional" partners such as local parks departments and watershed groups. Brown heads up the SWCD's education programs, including the annual poster contest; educator trainings on Projects' WET, WILD, and Project Learning Tree; Indiana Master Naturalist training; Hoosier Riverwatch volunteer training; and much more. 


Representing the South-Northwest region is Marlene Raisor, Hendricks County SWCD. Raisor handles the District financial business and is meticulous about her work. She is punctual with District forms and reports, prepares the monthly board meeting minutes and agendas, as well as comes in early to set up the meeting room, does office mailings, and keeps the office going. While she's not required to be out in the field, Raisor does get out of the office for field days and workshops. She arranges the refreshments, handles registration, and many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that make a field day go smoothly. She also enjoys working the District booth at the annual spring garden show. 


Chanda Hiatt, Madison County SWCD, is from the South-Northeast Region. Hiatt is known for her enthusiasm, energy and dedication to conservation. She wears many hats in her position as Watershed Coordinator for Madison County SWCD. Hiatt is in charge of their fall tree sale, writes the District newsletter, takes care of the well water initiative and soil testing, coordinates workshops, and manages the District's Facebook page. She has attended NRCS boot camp and works with the NRCS District Conservationist in writing conservation plans.  Hiatt also seeks and writes grants to help bring additional revenue to the District.   


Since starting with the SWCD in 2011, the North-Southwest Region Star Award winner, Meg Leader, Vermillion County SWCD, has obtained many grants to help promote and benefit both the environment and the economy. Leader helped the District and partners with the construction of a new municipal sewer system. This project required removing many trees in the Town of Dana. She worked with different groups and volunteers to create the "Dana Urban Forest Project." This effort enabled the town to obtain a $10,600 grant from Indiana's DNR Division of Community and Urban Forestry along with a $6,000 donation from Duke Energy. The project also encouraged the community to donate funds totaling $8,000. To date there have been 125 trees planted with 70+ more planned for this year. Leader is also the administrator of a $60,000 three-county Clean Water Indiana grant.  


The North-Southeast Region Star Award recipient is Kim Jolly, Ripley County SWCD. She has always been more than willing to assist in any effort regardless of the program or funding source to provide assistance to Ripley County land users. Jolly has reached out and supported newly hired SWCD administrators to help them learn the processes for the job. She is a very valuable asset to the conservation partnership, assisting with EQIP and CRP contribution agreements over the last three years, completing each agreement with excellent results. The Ripley County SWCD annual meeting's presentation, that she develops annually, has been invaluable in helping the public to understand the unique and valuable partnership that exists within Indiana. 


Jeri Ziliak, South-Southwest Region, has been a motivated District Employee for the Posey County SWCD for 13 years. She has participated in the southwest and the State Envirothon contest since she started in 2000. Ziliak currently serves as the Envirothon secretary/treasurer. Her participation in District activities, events, trainings and workshops is endless. She keeps everyone on task when planning multi county events and trainings. Ziliak promotes the Posey County SWCD with a website, Facebook page and a monthly newsletter. Working outside her normal hours during evenings and weekends is nothing uncommon for her when duty calls. At the 2013 Posey County Fair she helped make conservation legacy bracelets at the Kid Zone. She is a regular at the Annual Conference, fall conference, Envirothon, region meetings and trainings. 


Marsha Ralston, South-Southeast Star Award recipient, been the "heart and soul" of the Lawrence County SWCD for over 20 years. In her position as District Coordinator Ralston is the 'go to' person for any questions related to soil and water conservation. She partners with her colleagues in neighboring counties to enhance conservation efforts in the region. Her seniority and experience in dealing with multi-county conservation efforts make her a primary source of knowledge and expertise. She is frequently consulted and always enthusiastically provides good, reliable advice and support. She manages office business and the District budget as if it were her own. County cooperators are always pleased with her pleasant demeanor, her willingness to help and her knowledgeable responses to their questions.  


The three-day Annual Conference of Indiana SWCDs concludes tomorrow at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown (350 W. Maryland, Indianapolis, 46225) with the IASWCD's Legislative Breakfast and Annual Business Meeting. The complete conference agenda is available in the conference brochure


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For more information contact:

DeeDee Sigler, Communications Manager
317-692-7374, ext. 303 

IASWCD Officers


President: Jeff Meinders


Vice President: 
Paul Cummings


Secretary: Jamie Scott 


Bobby Hettmansperger




North-NW: Jim Martin


South-NW: Mike Starkey


North-NE: Tom Crowe 


South-NE: Troy Hattery


North-SW: Les Zimmerman


South-SW: Jim Droege 


North-SE: Mike Schwab


South-SE: Brad Ponsler




Executive Director:

Jennifer Boyle Warner


Project Assistant: Liz Rice


Soil Health Program Manager: Lisa Holscher


Communications Manager: DeeDee Sigler

225 S. East St., Suite 740, Indpls, IN  46202 / 317.692.7325 / / Facebook / Twitter