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USDA HONORS DEE RIVER RANCH FOR CONSERVATION WORK

Montgomery, Ala. -- U.S. Department of Agriculture's Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Gary Mast presented the 2008 Excellence in Conservation Award to Mike and Annie Dee of Dee River Ranch, Aliceville, Alabama.

The award ceremony was held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Convention Center during the national observance of Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 27 to May 4, 2008. Alabama's Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, Ron Sparks, and NRCS Acting State Conservationist, Zona Beaty, joined Deputy Under Secretary Mast in recognizing the leadership, accomplishments and cooperative efforts of Dee River Ranch.

“True conservation of our natural resources can be achieved only when groups and individuals put their commitment to conservation into action,” said Mast. “Annie and Mike Dee share their knowledge of conservation with communities and individuals across Alabama regularly and with distinction.”

The NRCS Excellence in Conservation Award as a national award is the highest award the agency gives to honor those outside the Federal government for their work in conservation. This is the first time two Alabama citizens have won this award. The award is given annually and recognizes the voluntary contributions of non-governmental individuals, groups, and Tribes through their conservation efforts in areas of technical assistance, programs delivery, technology transfer, outreach, or communication.

“Mike and Annie Dee are the epitome of a family farm. They strive every day to be good stewards of the land. They are certainly worthy of this national award” said Sparks.

“It has been a great pleasure to work with these folks over the course of the years,” said Beaty. “Their knowledge and expertise in using innovative technology have positioned them to be leaders in the agricultural community in Alabama. We are very pleased their communication and outreach efforts are being recognized by this award.”

Soil and Water Stewardship Week is one of the world's largest conservation-related observances to increase public awareness of conservation and stewardship, stressing the importance of partnerships in conservation. Since 1955, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) has sponsored the national Stewardship Week program.

Since its inception in the 1930's, NRCS' conservation delivery system continues a unique partnership, delivering conservation that respects local needs, while accommodating state and national interests. For more information on NRCS, the conservation partnership, and conservation programs available in your community, stop by your local USDA service center, or visit NRCS online at www.nrcs. usda.gov.

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