• By Ryan McGeeney •
The Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference and the Judd Hill Foundation recently honored one of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s longest-serving conservation experts, presenting Mike Daniels with the 2021 Outstanding Conservationist Award.
Daniels, Extension soil and water conservation specialist for the Division of Agriculture, received the award as part of the annual Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference. While the conference is typically held on the Arkansas State University campus in Jonesboro, Arkansas, this year’s conference was conducted virtually.
Kevin Cochran introduced Daniels near the end of the conference, which was streamed. Cochran is an assistant state conservationist for field operations with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“The Outstanding Conservationist Award is presented to an individual who is a leader in the field of conservation agriculture,” Cochran said. “For the past 24 years, he has served as a soil and water conservation specialist” with the Division of Agriculture.
“During this time he has implemented numerous programs and research activity to better assist agriculture producers and conservation professionals. He is a true innovator in the field of conservation agriculture.”
Among Daniels’ many accomplishments, he co-founded the Arkansas Discovery Farms Program, which uses edge-of-field water quality monitoring to help growers manage nutrients and other inputs effectively — avoiding both unnecessary pollution and unnecessary input costs.
Daniels said the recognition of his peers affected him profoundly.
“I have long felt that the Arkansas Soil and Water Conference at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro is the state’s premier educational event for soil and water conservation,” Daniels said. “To have my efforts recognized by this conference is truly an honor and extremely humbling.
“I want to sincerely thank the conference organizers and the Judd Hill Foundation for their recognition as well as my colleagues in the Division of Agriculture, and especially to our wonderful conservation partners and farmers, with whom I have the great pleasure to work, and without whom this award would not be possible, nor nearly as meaningful.”
Cochran said the award is designed to highlight the significant efforts of those providing leadership within the conservation community.
“Our goal as a committee is to annually recognize individuals in the agricultural community who are torchbearers in the area of conservation,” he said. “The years of dedication in developing and supporting activities like the Arkansas Discovery Farms program is a perfect example of the work Dr. Daniels has done.”
Ryan McGeeney is a communications specialist with the University of Arkansas. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.