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Success Story

Jerry Archuleta, Area Resource Conservationist for Planning, Awarded NCPP HHB Award

by Kayla Hladky
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Jerry Archuleta, Area Resource Conservationist for Planning, Awarded NCPP HHB Award

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The Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence recognizes individuals at the local, state, and national level for extraordinary achievements in and contributions to the soil and water conservation movement in the United States. This year the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) awarded Jerry Archuleta, Area Resource Conservationist for Planning with NRCS, as the Hugh Hammond Bennet Regional Planner of the Year.

“I think people like Jerry are exactly who Hugh Hammond Bennett had in mind to lead us when he created the Soil Conservation Service,” shared Chad Cherefko, NRCS Area 1 Conservationist. “From his unwavering commitment to the people he has crafted deep relationships with, the partnerships he has brought together to accomplish goals that none of us could have achieved alone, to landscapes that will forever bear the mark of his hands, many agree that Jerry is the conservationist we all dream to be.” 

Archuleta has been recognized with the Hugh Hammond Bennett Regional Planner award for several factors: his exceptional stakeholder communication skills, dedication to his working relationships, commitment to education and training, contributions to conservation planning and implementation, and his involvement in professional conservation organizations.

Archuleta’s dedication to conservation is not only reflected on the landscapes he has positively impacted and the relationships he has forged, but can also be witnessed through his tenure with the Natural Resource Conservation service as well. Archuleta, who was based out of the Pagosa Springs Field Office, retired at the end of 2023 after 35 years of service with NRCS. 

When considering nominations for this award, Archuleta was heavily advocated for on behalf of the NRCS staff and partners in the western part of the state. “That’s one of the most important things I can say about my career,” shared Archuleta. “I have been fortunate to work on some great teams, not just in Pagosa Springs, but across the area, and that's really what makes the job exciting and fulfilling. I am very humbled and very honored to receive this award.”

To summarize over 35 years of contributions to natural resource conservation in the state of Colorado is no easy feat, but Archuleta notes conservation planning and implementation have been a highlight. From forestry initiatives and stream restoration, to irrigation water management and watershed level projects, Archuleta notes, “That’s one of the most enjoyable and satisfying parts of the work: seeing issues getting resolved on the land. From the time you plan, going all the way through the process - working with those landowners, coming up with ideas, making sure it gets implemented correctly - to seeing it get addressed and the ability to see something get corrected based off what you have done, that’s what it’s all about.” 

Undoubtedly, Archuleta’s dedication to conservation planning and willingness to teach and guide others is a key reason why NCPP saw him fit to be recognized as a 2023 Regional Planner of the Year. “His ability to uphold the highest standards of conservation planning and teach us that the path to success is mastery of the craft, is something all of us cherish about him. There are very few who have had such a significant and lasting impact on conservation in Colorado and the generations of planners he has taught,” shared Cherefko.

For more information on the NCPP Hugh Hammond Bennett Awards, please visit their website at: