DAVIS, Calif, Feb. 12, 2020 – Emma Chow, District Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Santa Maria, California, has been named the winner of the 2020 Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence for her outstanding efforts as a conservation planner.
The National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) recognized Chow at the National Association of Conservation Districts 74th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas last night. “Emma Chow’s dedication to the conservation message and desire to help her community grow stronger is astounding and an inspiration to us all,” said Mike Brown, co-chair of the NCPP.
The planner award is presented annually to one conservation field staff member who demonstrates a high standard of conservation planning and implementation for customers as well as sharing his/her expertise with others.
California’s NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez said Chow consistently demonstrates a proud conservation ethic and is devoted to improving the conservation planning process for private landowners. “She builds relationships with her customers, actively listens to their needs and uses her expertise in natural resources management to help them achieve their productivity and sustainability goals.”
Chow began her career with NRCS in 2009 after graduating from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to promote conservation.
Her job as a district conservationist has given her a wide array of experiences with vineyards, orchards, forestland, organics, urban farming and other specialty crops in Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin, Napa, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties.
Following the catastrophic Tubbs Fire, Chow immediately mobilized staff to help customers whose property had burned. Her efforts to help control soil erosion after the fires led to changes in the forest community as landowners began to see their property as part of the health of the entire watershed.
Chow has led many educational events for youth and adults and is involved in several local and state organizations.
Outreach to underserved and nontraditional groups is a priority for Chow. She has developed outreach materials and organized events for groups such as the Chumash Tribe, the Spanish speaking community, organic, small and specialty crop farmers and many others.
“Chow exemplifies the qualities we want to see in a good conservation planner,” said Suarez.
NCPP was formed in 2015 to emphasize the critical role that conservation planning plays in advancing voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. For more information visit www.ncpp.info.