Section Awards

Grass Roots
2009 Recipient:  Vaden Aldridge

Vaden AldridgeVaden Aldridge is the 2009 recipient of the Natural Resources Conservation Service category of the Grass Roots Awards. He is the District Conservationist serving as the team leader for the NRCS in Eldorado.

He has used NRCS programs as an opportunity to develop grazing plans and work on conservation. Over the course of his 27-year career, he has provided assistance on all types of grazing systems from short duration to deferred rotation and cell grazing systems on over 250,000 acres.

He has provided assistance to producers on Brush Management; Water development; Fencing; Grazing Management; Prescribed Burning; Annual Deer Censusing and harvest recommendations.

When Surmount was released, early applications were applied in Schleicher County. Approximately 41,000 acres have been treated with Surmount in Schleicher County. Vaden executed trials to compare Surmount following wildfire; Surmount after prescribed burn; and side-by-side Tordon and Surmount trials.

Vaden is one of the West Texas leaders on the Continuous Conservation Reserve Riparian Buffer Program. He has written 7, CP-22 Riparian Buffer contracts covering 760 acres.

His contract experience and responsibility has included writing and administering the following types of cost share contracts: Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program; Great Plains Conservation Program Contracts; Environmental Quality Incentive Program Contracts; Conservation Reserve Program; and Continuous Conservation Reserve Program.

Within the 4 county team he is responsible for there have been a total of 632 EQIP contracts on 600,000 acres totaling 7.8 million dollars. He has written 41 University of Texas plans from 1988 to the present on 470,000 acres.

He is a Trained facilitator and was an instructor in the Team Building Training within USDA. He has presented over 160 County Wide Radio Programs; written over 125 feature articles and given 40 presentations or programs on conservation and technical issues.

Vaden assisted with establishing a bi-annual youth conservation newspaper called The "Conservation Roundup." Articles written by Vaden frequently appeared in that important educational newspaper that was distributed to schools across Texas.

He has written range articles for the Eldorado Success, Livestock Weekly and the San Angelo Standard Times. He participated in 2 television programs to promote local events in Ozona.

Vaden has served as a key trainer for new range conservationist. He has provided excellent training to 8 young NRCS employees in a 5-year time span. Five of the 8 have already become District Conservationist. He encourages his team members to write progressive conservation plans. In this year alone, the two NRCS employees working in the Eldorado Field Office have written 16 plans each as of June. The Eldorado Team is a model for others as they work very hard, accomplish excellent work and enjoy working together very much. Vaden is the leader that sets the tone.

Vaden assisted in getting local landowners involved in the Cinco Chapter of the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burn Association. He also provides support and helps train members of that organization. He held 6 prescribed burning training sessions.

He was a 4-H leader for 7 years. His teams won the state roundup range and pasture judging twice and plant I.D. once. He helped establish the Crockett County Deerfest Association. Vaden has organized annual 6th grade field days for 20 years; he helps with the annual fall conservation tour, and provides assistance to schools for earth day activities.

Vaden was a member of SRM from 1977 through 2000. He is coming back to the Texas Section this year. He is a past member of Lions and Rotary clubs. He was a commentator for the Ozona basketball and football teams for 5 years. Vaden was a presenter at the Texas 4-H State Water Camp for 5 years.

In his 27 years of service, he has served in the Gonzales, Ozona, Spearman, Odessa and Eldorado Field Offices, covering 6 land resource areas. He has worked with cattle, sheep and goats. Gonzales County was the leading cow/calf producing county in Texas. Crockett County was the leading sheep producing county in Texas.

Vaden excels at everything he does. He is very organized, very technical and very dedicated to providing the best assistance to producers that he can possibly provide. He is an outdoorsman in tune with the needs of ranchers and hunters alike. The employees he has trained are excelling at a young age. He is a very encouraging supervisor and is widely respected by NRCS employees across Texas as well as ranchers across Texas. He has been asked to serve on numerous state and national teams on a wide variety of issues because of the excellent work he does.


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