Sprague enters SE National Association of Conservation Districts Hall-of-Fame

Published 3:21 pm Friday, September 18, 2009

In a ceremony held in Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 24, Sprague received this award for his life-long dedication to conservation.

His outstanding work with conservation districts at both the local and state levels in three states, as well as his service on the national level, were recognized through this prestigious award.

Among his accomplishments Sprague was credited with starting Delaware&squo;s erosion and sediment control program through districts which provided the first technical district employees.&bsp; With the Philadelphia EPA he wrote the first 319 nonpoint source program and 319 NPS grant in the country.&bsp; This program has provided millions of dollars to conservation districts across the nation. &bsp;

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In New York, while working for the State Conservation Committee, he was instrumental in forming the Hudson River Coalition of Conservation Districts, which continues today with its own director and major watershed projects.&bsp; &bsp;

With NACD, Sprague headed up the first National Urban Conservation Conference in Kansas City, MO. and later led the conferences held in Philadelphia, PA. and Los Angles, CA., started the National Forestry Notes, helped form the National Watershed Coalition, helped develop the working relationship with NACD and the Cannon Envirothon, Project Food Land and People and Ag in the classroom. &bsp;

In North Carolina, Sprague is known by all 100 Conservation Districts as a leader capable of finding resources when times were rough and guiding district programs to achieve success. &bsp;

Prior to taking Polk&squo;s AEDD position, Sprague spent almost nine years as chief of District Programs for the NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources, responsible for overseeing the state&squo;s 96 Soil & Water Districts; developing policies at the state and national level; and establishing working relationships and agreements with federal, state and local government agencies. In that position, Sprague worked closely with the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District, helping the county with its grant programs, Voluntary and Enhanced Agricultural Districts, and farmland preservation efforts.

Sprague said he was attracted to the Polk AEDD position for the chance to get back to the local level.

&dquo;When you&squo;re at the state and national level, you can lose that one-on-one perspective. Sometimes it&squo;s better to lead by example and county government is where things really happen,&dquo; said Sprague when he started his position here. &dquo;I see this position as a chance to roll up my sleeves again, get to work and have an impact that can be seen and felt.&dquo;

Polk County commissioners have applauded Sprague for the progress he has made in protecting and enhancing agriculture business opportunities since he started his position here in August of 2008.

In a recent update to county commissioners, Sprague reviewed a long list of accomplishments here, including expanded tailgate markets, entreprenurial business programs for farmers, agricultural grants, more certified organic producers and more.

Sprague said he has a long list of goals for his second year here, including the creation of an agricultural degree program at ICC, more value-added farm businesses and a regional farm market.