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Rick Porter - Dedicated to the Conservation Cause

Dedicated to the Conservation Cause

William Gilliam, Assistant State Conservationist, Emporia, presents Rick Porter with the National Pearlie Reed Award.Rick Porter, Lake Region Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator, Ottawa, Kansas, was recently presented with the National Pearlie Reed Award for his Commitment to Excellence in the performance of his duties and leadership in getting conservation on the ground. This award is named after U.S. Department of Agriculture - NRCS Chief Pearlie Reed who led the agency from 1998 to 2003. The National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees sponsors this award.

Through the RC&D Program, Porter has been instrumental in improving communities and natural resources throughout Kansas and along the Kansas and Missouri border. His efforts to get conservation on the ground in the local community have resulted in various government and private grants. Porter initiated the first local, volunteer-based watershed protection project for the state of Kansas’ Hillsdale Water Quality Project. This project became its own incorporated 501c3 nonprofit organization in 1998. This project has earned numerous state, national, local partnerships, excellence in education, and outstanding watershed project awards.

He initiated the State of Kansas’ first River Basin Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) to identify, through public input, the local issues, concerns, and suggestions of how to improve water quality in a 13-county area. These counties include Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Coffey, Crawford, Douglas, Franklin, Johnson, Linn, Lyon, Miami, Osage, and Wabaunsee in east central Kansas. This is still the only Kansas WRAPS that covers an entire basin, the Marais des Cygnes River Basin.

He has provided more than 500 bikes to local community residents through the Adopt-A-Bike program. This program takes in unwanted bikes, provides work at a local penitentiary for prisoners to refurbish the bikes, and returns them in like-new condition. These are then handed out to local residents who need and want a bike. There have been more than 3,500 bikes that didn’t make it to local landfills thanks in part to the Adopt-A-Bike program and many children and others now have bikes.

Porter has shared his passion for his conservation work with high school and college-aged students while recruiting for NRCS. He served as a consultant for the Youth Motivation Task Force (YMTF) program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It is through Porter’s classroom visits and one-on-one interactions that many students discover the difference between the world of learning and the world of work.

Porter started with NRCS in 1980 as a soil conservationist in Oskaloosa. He held various positions as a watershed planner and district conservationist before accepting his current position as an RC&D coordinator in Ottawa in 1991.