2020 National HHB Award Winners

Conservation Producer Recipient 

Richard & Sara Grim - Bonesteel, South Dakota

Richard and Sara Grim operate their 3,600-acre family ranch in Gregory County, South Dakota.

The Grims are recognized for successfully pioneering prescribed burns to control the invasive eastern red cedar, which rapidly infest open lands and choke out native grasses in many areas of the state. The Grims joined with like-minded neighbors, conservation professionals and partners to establish the Mid-Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association. This association has raised grant dollars to treat 2,000 acres annually.

Richard and Sara were also early adopters of cover crops and have also incorporated other innovative practices like tissue sampling to ensure their nutrient application is more precise and effective. They have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Gregory County Conservation District for years on a comprehensive and flexible resource management plan that integrates conservation practices to improve pasture design and utilization, combat invasive plants, reduce erosion, improve water access, improve forages, and manage nutrients.

The Grims serve as mentors for those who need help in building healthier soil, crops or livestock. You can hear their success story in the YouTube series called “Our Amazing Grasslands“ www.bit.ly/GrimRanch.

The local field office staff in Gregory County will be recognized for their assistance to the Grims. Congratulations to Andrew Steffen, NRCS district conservationist, Brandon Walter, NRCS biologist, Kenneth Steele, Gregory County Conservation District’s Manager, and Tina Schonebaum, Gregory County Conservation District’s secretary.

2020 Producer Award Nominiations

Winner: Richard & Sara Grim - Bonesteel, SD

  • Top 3 - Brent and Carrie Fowler, McDonough - Rushville, IL
  • Top 3 - Elton Coley, Hardin County SCD - Muscle Shoals, AL
  • Cornelius Joe, Hale County - Greensboro, AL
  • Dan Boerst, Waupaca - Manawa, WI

Conservation Planner Recipient 

Sylvia Hickenlooper - Longmont, Colorado

Sylvia Hickenlooper is an NRCS soil conservationist in Boulder County, Colorado and is recognized as this year’s award-winning conservation planner.

Over the past 14 years as a certified planner, Hickenlooper has successfully developed over 120 conservation plans and helped implement hundreds of practices to help farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and others improve their crop production, soil health, water quality, forest stands, grazing lands and more on nearly 200,000 acres.

Throughout her 18-year career with NRCS, Hickenlooper has dedicated herself to outreach, education and building partnerships that further the agency’s mission. Two of her major successes include working with the conservation district and other partners to develop “From Our Lands to Your Hands,” a hands-on program for fourth graders to learn about the importance of agriculture, that ran for 10 years and reached over 10,000 students in Boulder and Weld Counties. The second is the Annual Soil Revolution Conference, a statewide multi-partner annual event that has reached 600 commercial producers over the past four years, about diverse production systems and soil health principles.

“Sylvia exemplifies the qualities we want to see in a top conservation planner. She is recognized by coworkers and partners for the enthusiasm, knowledge and excellent communication skills that she brings to her job as she works with private landowners to get conservation on the ground and protect our natural resources for the next generation,” said Astor Boozer, NRCS regional conservationist and NCPP co-chair.

2020 Planner Award Nominations

Winner: Sylvia Hickenlooper, Boulder Valley & Longmont Conservation District - Longmont, CO

  • Top 3 - Diana Waller, East Stanislaus RCD & West Stanislaus RCD - Modesto, CA
  • Top 3 - John F. Harryman, St Clair County - Belleville, IL
  • Devin Best, Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District - Templeton, CA
  • Holly Giombi, Marion County - Knoxville, IA