Submitted by Eaton Conservation District

(Photo Provided)


Eaton Conservation District (ECD) held their annual meeting on June 27 at Miller Farm, Eaton Rapids, for an ice cream social to celebrate their dedicated partners, supporters and volunteers. At the meeting, a number of people were presented awards for their exceptional contributions during the past year.

Jim Droscha was recognized with the Legacy Award. Jim recently retired from the Eaton Conservation Board of Directors, having served for nearly 30 years and as treasurer much of that time. Jim has been a guiding light for the district as nobody else has. ECD is deeply grateful for all that he has given to the district.

Conservationist of the year Award was presented to Ken and Laura Coats who worked extensively with Casey Carpenter, Agricultural Specialist for the District, to get his farm verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). The Coats have been an enthusiastic supporter of the MAEAP program throughout the process.

Partner of the Year was presented to both Gary Pruden and Erin Pavloski.

Gary Pruden of Pheasants Forever has supported the district for many years. This year, he has partnered with the district to expand the wildlife habitat work at the Potterville State Game Area. In addition, Pheasants Forever co-hosted the Pollinator Habitat Workshop in March.

Erin Pavloski of The University of Olivet has been a great partner on the MiCorps grant, a program which brings students and volunteers together to monitor the Thornapple Watershed for water quality by surveying macroinvertebrates. In addition, Erin supervised two interns for the District this Spring, which helped provide additional programing that would not have otherwise been made available to Eaton County.
Dale Waddle and Abby Deneau were each recognized as Volunteer of the Year for their significant contributions to Eaton Conservation District programs.

Dale Waddle’s help with the tree sale and the native plant sale was key to both events’ success. She also volunteers in the office and recently joined the District as an Associate Board Director.

Abby Deneau of Lansing Area Neighborhood Ecology has been a valuable source of knowledge and expertise regarding native and invasive plant species. She volunteered her time at the Arbor Day Tree Planting and Wildflower Walk, as well as a day of workshops for the Science Adventure Camp. In addition, she has helped the district with creating and promoting events on the District social media.

Educators of the Year was presented jointly to Ken Poff and Holly Schaeffer.

Ken and Holly designed, organized and managed a community celebration of Earth Day, in partnership with the District, Potter Park Zoo, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Corn Growers Association, held at Riddle Elementary School and Barnes & Noble Bookstore (Lansing Mall), Students at Riddle School received tree seedlings by “Smokey the Bear” together with the lesson that planting trees will help the environment. At Barnes & Noble Bookstore, books on the environment were displayed, customers were greeted by Holly dressed as “Miss Frizzle”, relevant age- appropriate books were read to children, and additional tree seedlings were distributed to attendees to plant in support of the environment.

The work of Eaton Conservation District is ongoing. If you wish to learn more about conservation efforts in Eaton County and how you can participate, visit the website at, sign up for the newsletter and follow the District on Facebook.and Instagram @EatonConservationDistrict.