2022 National HHB Award Winners

Conservation Producer Recipient

Charles Holmes has been named the national winner of the Conservation Producer 2022 Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence for outstanding conservation efforts on his farm, Holmestead Company in Marion, Alabama. Charles and his wife, Jenny, now with their three sons (William, Webb, and Cooper), have managed the farm since 1972.

The Holmestead Company is the successor of the original farm that was founded in 1819 by Holmes’ great-great grandfather William Moore from Newberry, South Carolina. Holmes’ grandchildren are the 7th generation to work on the farm. The family farm and its historical and agricultural buildings are open as a teaching property and include 53 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. The farm is one of the oldest continuous working family farms in Alabama and is certified as both a Century & Heritage Farm by the Alabama /Department of Agriculture and Industries. The farm has been managed based on Hugh Bennett’s belief that using the land according to its capability and treating the land according to its needs is the wisest form of stewardship.

The farm has changed through time from cropland, dairy, cattle, and forestry to mostly forestry and a new endeavor of agritourism. The first conservation plan was written in 1939 and has been updated several times as new conservation technology and information became available.

Ben Malone, NRCS AL State Conservationist, says, “Mr. Holmes has a commitment to conservation planning and implementation of conservation practices that is exhibited by the many recognitions he has received.”  His farm’s designations as a Treasure Forest, Tree Farm, and Stewardship Forest are indicative of his planning and implementation of forestry practices.

Holmes and his family were named the recipient of the prestigious Helene Mosley Memorial Treasure Forest Award for outstanding achievement in multiple use management of forest land by the Alabama Natural Resources Council and The W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Awards Program.  One of Holmes’ greatest honors was being recognized by the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) Governor’s Award as Alabama’s Conservationist of the Year. Claude Jenkins, AWF Wildlife Biologist, says “Mr. Holmes commitment to incorporate wildlife habitat considerations into his forest and farm management plans serves as a model for conservation while maintaining an efficient forest and farm operation.”

Holmes received the Environmental Stewardship Award for the Southeast presented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an acknowledgement of his conservation ethic related to his cattle operation. Because of his attention to detail and planning, “Holmesgrown” all-natural grass-fed beef is sold to urban markets and restaurants in Alabama, a true testament to quality and sustainable production.

The family decided that typical agricultural production was not going to sustain the farm and changes were needed to diversify income generation by inviting others to experience nature on their farm. Dipping a toe into agritourism in this special part of Alabama, the Holmes family lists the Federal/Greek Revival style farmhouse known as the Hogue-Scott house for vacation rental for individuals that want to stay on the farm for relaxation or to observe wildlife and nature. Holmes’ son, Cooper, also provides farm, historic, architectural and civil rights tours of the area. Additionally, five different hunting clubs lease parts of the property.

Youth education is another objective of Holmes in giving back to the community. Youth are introduced to forestry and wildlife practices as well as the operations of the farm overall. One of the annual events is “Classroom in the Forest,” which is offered to all fifth graders in Perry County. Previously, the farm has hosted “Fall in Folsom” with music, hayrides, corn maze, and pumpkins. The day of history illustrated the operations of the farm in the 1800s alongside more current practices.

Holmes has a well-diversified plan for both conservation and sustainability of the farm. Holmes stated, “Jenny and I hope the next generation will take what we’ve been given and make it even better.”

Holmes was an early adopter of soil health practices and knew the value of healthy soil as a young man because of the example of his predecessors on his family farm. His commitment to healthy soils over the course of time has never waned. Holmestead Company has evolved from a row crop operation to a more diversified crop, cattle, and timber operation, and finally, to the current forestry, wildlife, education, heritage and agritourism venture that comprises Holmestead Company today. In each iteration, Holmes has been committed to conserving the natural resources that are within his stewardship.

Holmes serves on his local Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District. His tenure with the district includes being recognized as the national winner of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Earth Team Award. He received this for his dedication to conservation and outstanding efforts in the recruitment, training, and management of a superior volunteer program for the Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District. Sutton Gibbs, NRCS District Conservationist for Perry County states, “Charles manages his resource challenges, not as a threat but an opportunity to use innovative conservation planning to resolve his issues and to make tomorrow’s traditions.”

On a statewide level, Holmes is a past president of the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts, current Chairman of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee (ALSWCC), member of the Alabama Agriculture and Conservation Development Commission and a board member of Alabama Treasure Forest Association. His efforts are often instrumental in bringing natural resource issues to the forefront at both the state and national levels.

Nationally, Holmes is known for his passion, dedication, and infectious laughter. He served for 28 years as a Director on the National Association of Conservation Districts Board. Holmes was presented the National Conservation District Board Member Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership and personal commitment to conservation and stewardship.

Dr. Carol Knight, NACD Representative from Alabama, summarized Holmes’ contribution to conservation by saying, “No other person I know has made such improvements on his land and on his fellow man as Charles Holmes.  He has served as a mentor for countless young conservationists across the nation but most notably in Alabama.  His impact on our state cannot be measured in acres or any other tangible way, but he has influenced people—and that is the best legacy of all.”

Regional Producer Winners:

PacificIDMark and Paige Telford
Northern PlainsSDRiley Kammerer
SouthwestCORobert Warner
South CentralARAdam Chappell
North CentralIAJack Boyer
NortheastCTJennie Kapszukiewicz
SoutheastALCharles Holmes – National Winner

Conservation Planner Recipient

Pamela Pavek, a Resource Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Moscow, Idaho, has been named the national winner of the Conservation Planner 2022 Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence for her outstanding conservation efforts.

Curtis Elke, NRCS ID State Conservationist says, “Conservation Planning is one of the most important technical assistance products on our NRCS conservation shelf we offer the customer.  Pamela has demonstrated her expertise in conservation planning and innovative thinking over the years and I am so very proud of her receiving the National Conservation Planning Partnership, Hugh Hammond National Planner Award.”

Pavek graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and holds a master’s from Washington State University in Crop Science. She continues her family’s legacy of serving with NRCS, following in her father’s 38-and-a-half-year career as a soil scientist in Nebraska. She started at NRCS in 2005 and has worked in several roles, including one with plant materials, before landing a role as a soil conservationist in 2016. In her current role, Pavek develops conservation plans for the conservation reserve program and helped the District Conservationist manage hundreds of contracts for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, and Wetland Reserve Easements.

Sam Wozniak, NRCS ID says, “Pamela has been a leader in conservation in Palouse region for the past 15-20 years due to her persistence in tackling difficult conservation projects, making meaningful connections with landowners, and serving as a role model for many young soil conservationists and the greater community. She has been a key member of a network of partners in the advancement of Palouse Prairie restoration. She authored the Forb Seedling Identification Guide for the Inland Northwest and a Technical Note on Plants for Pollinators in the Inland Northwest during her time at the Pullman Plant Materials Center and has implemented several of the larger scale Palouse Prairie restorations as a Resource Conservationist. She led the conservation planning on Idaho’s first Stage 0 wetland restoration project and has saved tons of soil through her conservation farming efforts. Many landowners keep coming back to work with Pamela because of her enthusiasm and sincere advice. Pamela has also been a role model and essential trainer for many younger employees in the Moscow office due to her wealth of knowledge and eagerness to help others. Due to her achievements in publishing, training younger employees, and presenting conservation information at Washington State University and the Native Plant Society, Pamela’s impact will long outlast her time at NRCS.”

Pavek is a leader in expanding the reach of conservation in the community. She leads training and provides numerous presentations, lectures, and learning opportunities for new conservationists and the public. She is also the author of numerous publications on pollinators, weed control, cover crops, and other conservation topics. Kyle Lunsford, NRCS ID says, “After moving across the country for my job, Pamela was instrumental in helping me learn the common plants, land management techniques, and cropping systems of the Inland Northwest. She has helped me learn and develop my conservation planning and technical skills which has been key to my early success as a soil conservationist. She takes great pride in her job and enjoys being a mentor to others—she is a great example for developing conservationists to follow. She is an integral part of Team 3 and I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside her during my first year and a half with the agency.” In addition to implementing conservation by consulting directly with landowners, Pavek maintains a close working relationship with many regional partners including the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District, Palouse Conservation District, Idaho Fish and Game, Palouse Land Trust, University of Idaho Extension and Washington State University.

It is clear to Pavek’s colleagues and the landowners she serves that she cares about conservation planning being done right. Jennifer MacMillian, NRCS ID says, “Pamela is the ideal role model for any conservationist. She has exemplary qualities such as high intelligence, confidence, empathy, drive, and excellence in advocacy and communication. Her experience and accolades are impressive on their own, but add her kind, caring, witty, personality and she is unstoppable. She has contributed immensely to NRCS and affiliated partners throughout her career and we are incredibly lucky to have a leader like her in our midst.” She goes above and beyond planning process, and makes sure producers feel comfortable with the language being used in contracting, specifications, and implementation. While she excels at all she does, Pavek has a particular strength in writing plans for planting, pollinator habitat, and riparian vegetation. Sarah Johnson, NRCS ID says, “Pamela has been such a wonderful person to work with the past four years. She has patience to stop with her busy workload to help answer questions I might have, concerning understory vegetation which could help me identify the habitat type and silviculture treatment to proceed with. Her knowledge in botany always amazes me and her skills and knowledge only expand from there. Not only is she a hard worker and is willing to help others but her overall presence is warming and welcoming which makes it easy to approach her. We are very lucky to have her on the Moscow team and I know without having to ask anyone else they would feel the exact same way!” She's the planner who always has a backpack full of books and tools strapped to her back while she walks the property with a client and is always prepared for whatever questions they may have, or resource concerns they may encounter.

Regional Planner Winners:

PacificIDPamela Pavek – National Winner
Northern PlainsMTCharles Roloff
SouthwestCORebecca Burton
South CentralTXGlen Minzenmeyer
North CentralOHDee Wiseman
NortheastNYSteve Lorraine
SoutheastGAGabriel Outlaw