NB_190_22_14 - NB 190-22-14 ECS - NRCS Biologist Awards
NB 190-22-14 ECS - NRCS Biologist Awards
National Bulletin: 190-22-14  
Date: July 6, 2022 
Subject: ECS - NRCS Biologist Awards  

Purpose.   To announce the 2022 NRCS Biologist Awards.     
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2022  
Background.   Traditionally, in years that NRCS holds a gathering of NRCS Biologists, an award is presented to at least one NRCS fish or wildlife biologist or ecologist to honor special achievements in the biology discipline field. National Bulletin 190-22-4 solicited nominations for NRCS Biologist Awards. Although a National State Biologist’s Workshop was submitted for approval in 2022, to date approval has not been received.        

Because it is unlikely the workshop will be approved for 2022 and because several excellent nominations were received, the awards team has chosen to recognize 2022 recipients of the NRCS Biologist Awards in this National Bulletin.

Ritch Nelson, State Biologist in Lincoln, Nebraska is NRCS 2022 Biologist of the Year. Ritch is recognized for career-spanning achievements combining his broad expertise in the biology discipline with excellent interpersonal skills that have facilitated great working relationships with employees, and numerous state and federal agencies and wildlife organizations. He constantly advocates for wildlife management, ensuring species habitat needs are met through his training, guidance, and oversite of wildlife planning in Nebraska NRCS. He works tirelessly to answer field office staff and partner questions about wildlife technical issues, habitat evaluations, and programs that benefit wildlife. Ritch is a role model and mentor to many of the field biologists working for partner agencies in Nebraska, which makes his impacted acres for conservation unmeasurable. He excels at clearly, effectively, and confidently communicating programs to NRCS’ varied partners. Ritch presents wildlife training to NRCS Staff and partners in a challenging and entertaining way.

A very close Biologist of the Year runner-up is Troy Mallach, State Biologist in Alexandria, Louisiana. Over the past year, Troy has worked with several partners in developing and/or making new practices available in Louisiana to improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Troy teaches the Wetlands Identification course in Louisiana and this year hosted a Central National Technology Support Center session titled, Farmed Wetland Hydrology Indicators – Gauge Analysis. Troy assisted at the national level developing the competency model and career guide for the Wildlife Biologist (0486) job series and on the Wetland Restoration Conservation Practice Standard (657) revision team. Troy serves as the President of the Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists (the Louisiana Chapter of The Wildlife Society.) Troy received another award this year for his coastal restoration efforts in support of the Cameron-Creole Freshwater Introduction project in southwest Louisiana which restored the function, value, and sustainability of 22,510 acres of marsh and open water habitats.

Barry Hart, Ecologist in Milan, Tennessee receives an Honorable Mention for his work with Harbison's hawthorn (Crataegus harbisonii), an extremely rare native plant thought to be possibly extirpated. Barry discovered a previously unknown colony of the species while doing reconnaissance surveys for an Ecological Site Description, noting that it was different from any hawthorn he had ever seen. After keying out the specimens, Barry sought confirmation of his identification from local experts. Barry then helped found the Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance and has become a liaison between NRCS and other conservation and management agencies. After working with local NRCS staff to establish a relationship with the landowner, Barry obtained permission to do further study resulting in a new total of more than 100 specimens now identified.

Contact.   For further information, please contact Danielle Flynn, National Biologist, at 202-690-0856 or Danielle.Flynn@usda.gov.    


  Deputy Chief, Science and Technology  

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