The Saratoga Sun -

Parsons named WACD employee of the year

Local conservation district manager wins 2017 award from Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts


Photo courtesy of Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and Leather N Lace Photography

From left, WACD President Shaun Sims, SERCD District Manager Joseph Parsons and Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto.

Saratoga-Encampment-Rawlins Conservation District (SERCD) District Manager Joseph Parsons is a man of few words. He is also hesitant to give himself any praise, but his actions speak volumes according to the letter of nomination written by the SERCD Board.

"Joe has taken the District from two or three projects on the ground over several years to 9 or 10 projects over a couple of years," wrote the SERCD Board. "Water development has resulted in benefit to both livestock and wildlife. Irrigation diversions ... have removed the necessity of using equipment to make the push-up cobble diversions for irrigation. This has resulted in huge benefit to the fisheries and water quality."

In conjunction with Carbon County Weed & Pest and Medicine Bow Conservation District, Parsons helped organize the first ever Hazardous Waste Collection Day. He also started the annual Volunteer Day in 2013 which continues to serve as a conservation highlight in the North Platte Valley. In 2016, 32 volunteers removed over a mile of barbed wire fence in a migration corridor that saw heavy use by mule deer, antelope and elk.

Wyoming has 34 conservation districts throughout the state ranging from one employee to 10 or 15 employees at each district, so Parsons considers it an honor to have even been nominated. Parsons is the definition of humility, crediting the people he works with as his reasons for winning Outstanding Employee of the Year from the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts.

As District Manager, Parsons oversees projects being performed by Resource Specialist Garrett Pantle and Office Manager Jean Runner. Pantle recently has been focusing on range projects from spring developments to fence conversion aiding in migration routes. Runner focuses on national resources education for 900 plus elementary school students between Saratoga, Encampment, and Rawlins. She also works with Brush Creek Ranch in the summer to educate inner-city Chicago youth.

Parsons himself has taken a role in river restoration, including working with Silver Spur Ranch and Carbon County to alleviate flooding concerns in Boozer Creek. He has also taken interest in the living snow fence project which just saw a new installation between Sinclair and Rawlins on the south side of the interstate.

Originally from Hulett, Wyo. and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Parsons moved to Saratoga in 2010 after attending Northwest College and University of Wyoming in Powell and Laramie, respectively. While at UW, he completed an internship with Western Ecosystems Technology giving him experience working with sage grouse. This experience proved useful when an opportunity became available to work with the Sage Grouse Initiative in Saratoga.

"When an opportunity comes up in Saratoga, you better jump. They are few and far between," Parsons says.

From there, Parsons explained, it was a natural progression from working for the Sage Grouse Initiative to working for the conservation district. Parsons isn't the only one to follow this path. Pantle spent time with the initiative as well, working in the position once held by Parsons, before his move over to the SERCD.

"It's a much more dynamic position," Parsons said of the switch from the initiative to the conservation district.

In their nomination letter, the SERCD Board wrote "Joe is an excellent employee. His positive attitude and great work ethic set him apart from the rest. Joe's ability to facilitate beneficial projects between many diverse groups and agencies is extraordinary.

Under the direction of the Board and through Joe's leadership, SERCD will continue to provide natural resource conservation expertise for residents, municipalities, and organizations in Central Carbon County."


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