Congratulations to the 2018 Winners!

On March 1, 2018, farmers, practitioners and agribusiness professionals walked the green carpet to receive awards for their significant contributions to agricultural conservation in the Saginaw Bay watershed. More than 140 people attended the inaugural event, including leaders of The Nature Conservancy and agricultural industry.

Four of the award recipients--Wayne "Lee" Wackerle Jr., Chad Dzurka, Dan Ritter and Steve Tait--were selected from a pool of nominees submitted by their peers. The remaining awards were presented to professionals in agribusiness, agencies and conservation organizations for their enthusiastic support of key conservation programs. All recipients were selected by a committee with members from: Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Bureau, Michigan Agri-Business Association, Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, and the Delta Institute.

Click to watch highlights from the 2018 Saginaw Bay Agricultural Conservation Awards

Click on an image or name below to watch a brief video for each awardee. 

Conservation Excellence Award: Agribusiness
Chad Gruden, on behalf of J.J. Metz,
Crop Productions Services-Linwood


Conservation Excellence Award: Contributor
Paul Sweeney, Ecosystem Services Exchange

  Conservation Newcomer Award 
          Chad Dzurka, Dzurka Brothers Farms

Conservation Veteran Award
Wayne "Lee" Wackerle Jr., Wackerle Farms

  Conservation Innovation Award 
                      Dan Ritter, Ritter Farms

Conservation Impact Award
Steve Tait, Tait Farms

Thank you to our 2018 sponsors: 
Cook Family Foundation, Midland Brewing Company, 
Michigan Sugar Company, The Andersons, Inc., 
and Ecosystem Services Exchange 

Visit for more information on
The Nature Conservancy's work in the Saginaw Bay watershed.

Visit for all Saginaw Bay watershed-related events.

Contact: Mary Fales | 517.316.2278