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News Release

John Oiestad Wins Unsung Hero Award

Lori Valadez

BOZEMAN, Mont., May 8, 2014– John Oiestad, district conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Harlowton, is the recipient of a 2014 Unsung Hero Award presented by the Organization of Professional Employees of the USDA (OPEDA) in partnership with the USDA. Oiestad was recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 7.

Unsung Hero awards are given to our USDA employees who have demonstrated extraordinary effort in performing tasks, who have unselfishly shared time and expertise, and consistently and willingly extended a helping hand.

Oiestad has served America for 41 years, beginning with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he was a squad leader. He largely responsible for the safety of his squad, which depended on him to detect enemy threats before they could harm the troops. “This kind of competent, unselfish leadership has been a hallmark of his career,” said Chuck Roloff, NRCS district conservationist in Big Timber, who nominated Oiestad for the award.

During his NRCS career, Oiestad has worked “in the field,” helping private landowners identify their natural resource concerns, providing them information and helping them implement solutions. He has worked closely with the local Upper Musselshell Conservation District and many other entities to accomplish voluntary natural resource conservation on private lands. Oiestad has many successes on his resume, including developing sustainable grazing systems for native rangeland, assisting Hutterite colonies move their large animal confinement operations away from local streams and rivers, and helping the community recover from severe flooding.

“John has earned the respect of the agricultural community in Wheatland County, Montana. He is valued and respected by his peers for his calm, competent, positive approach to his work, providing a role model that many of us look up to, leading by his example,” Roloff said. “He shuns the limelight, letting the results speak for themselves.”