Each year, for more than 50 years, the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District recognizes the great people working to protect our county’s water quality, farmland, soil health, wildlife habitat and environment. The annual awards banquet was not held this year, so we’re taking the time to celebrate these deserving students, residents and farmers who partner to educate and preserve our wonderful natural resources.
Farm Family of the Year
Donald Ryan Broadwell is a fifth-generation farmer and a captain with the Town of Cary Fire Department. He started farming when he was 11 years old in his family’s tobacco field. As a boy, Ryan never dreamed that when he grew up he would win an award from Wake County for his environmental conservation efforts.
After graduation from NC State University with degrees in both Agricultural Business Management and Ornamentals and Landscape Technology, he began farming on his own in 2006 with just 40 acres of cropland in production. Over the years, Ryan has expanded the number of acres he farms to more than 350 acres today – growing corn, soybeans and wheat in eastern Wake County.
Approximately seven years ago, he started implementing conservation practices that protect and conserve the natural resources and water quality on his farm. The Wake Soil and Water Conservation District helped Ryan with a conservation plan. He installed cover crops, grass waterways, field borders, and converted to a long-term, no-tillage crop rotation system to reduce soil erosion, nutrient runoff and improve the overall soil quality on the farm. This year, Ryan proudly received the 2021 Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award from the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.
“I was most interested in conservation for soil erosion, but over time, I found that it has increased my yield greatly. It is good for everything – for wildlife, for erosion – but one of the great things for me was increased residue and increased yield. There has been a lot of hard work to put conservation practices here on the farm. I feel very privileged to receive this award,” said Broadwell.
Every year, the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District celebrates farmers like Broadwell for their conservation efforts that protect both soil and water resources in Wake County.
"Teaching our farmers strong conservation techniques is critically important to ensure a robust supply of fresh food for our community,” said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “We applaud the hard work of these award winners and appreciate their partnership to safeguard our environment.”
Board Member Emeritus Award
For the first time, Manly Wilder, who has decades of service in soil and water conservation, has been named this year’s Board Member Emeritus. He started his career in 1961 working on the state and federal levels, while sharing his expertise in international positions. For the past seven years, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. He has won several awards for his distinguished career in water and soil conservation.
Dan Wilkinson WRAL Communication Award
Allie Dinwiddie showcases bold leadership in disseminating statewide up-to-date conservation information to soil and water conservation districts in the central piedmont region. She was awarded the Dan Wilkinson WRAL Conservation Communication Award for her outstanding communications efforts. Dinwiddie currently works in the NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation as an NPS Planning Coordinator.
Distinguished Service Award
With the goal to serve Wake County residents and bring conservation practices to a diverse group of people, Nervahna Crew was elected as a board supervisor for the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2018, becoming the first black woman to be elected for this position. During her tenure, she has led the Wake District in establishing a voice for diversity and inclusion for all conservation programs and prioritizing funding for environmental education programming for Wake County’s youngest residents. After her term, she moved to a non-partisan sector, but she will continue to serve as an active Associate Board member. For her dedication, Nervahna received the Distinguished Service Award.
Poster Contest Winners
To reach future generations and educate them on conservation practices, the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District invited 4th and 5th graders from Wake County to participate in a poster contest. This year’s contest topic was “Soil and Water – Yours for Life.” From more than 100 submissions, the panel of judges chose three winners who will receive cash awards and participate in the state contest.
Environmental Education Partnership Award
Novozymes North America, Inc., has co-sponsored Wake District’s conservation poster contest since 2009 and hosted several special field tours to their Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF Composting facility for Wake District’s top 10 poster winners, their families, and teachers. To celebrate their continuous sponsorship and support of Wake District’s conservation poster contest, Novozymes North America, Inc., received the Environmental Education Partnership Award.
B.C. Raynor Friend of the District Award
To recognize the important role of the business community in conservation efforts, the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District awarded the B.C. Raynor Friend of the District Award to Altar’d State-Crabtree Mall for their generous donation to the Friends of the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District to support their water quality and environmental education efforts.