2021 Soil Conservation Teachers of the Year

ICEC and the Iowa Soil Conservation Awards Program, co-sponsored by the Iowa State Soil Conservation Committee and the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI), annually presents an award to two educators who are creating awareness of soil conservation and water quality in their classrooms. While awards are usually presented during the Annual Conference for Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners, the presentation this year was virtual.

2021 Conservation Teachers of the Year

Division I (K-8 teacher) Recipient: Amy Hoover, Guthrie Center Elementary School, Guthrie Center, Iowa

award winner
L-R: Tracy Bruun, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Field Representative for Southwest Iowa; Amy Hoover, award winner; Cletus Steensen, Guthrie Soil and Water Conservation District

Amy incorporates STEM activities with her 3rd grade students that focuses on conservation issues that can be seen locally and globally, like soil erosion, natural disaster devastation, hail damage to crops. water pollution, and more! As part of her social students and science lessons, she advocates and incorporates the local Soil and Water Conservation District poster contests each year.




Division II (9-12 teacher) Recipient: Doug Gaul, Manson Northwest Webster High School, Manson, Iowa

award winner
L-R: Ray Willhoite, Sac SWCD Commissioner; Doug Gaul, award winner; and Rick Steinkamp, Sac SWCD Commissioner

Doug’s dad is a farmer and his mother was a teacher, so being an Ag teacher came naturally! Doug teaches Crop Science and Environmental Science. Doug grew up on a rowcrop / livestock farm and still helps his dad and brother with their farming operations. Utilizing conservation practices like terraces, waterways, and no-till, Doug focuses his teaching on sustainability, erosion control, and being good stewards. Doug assists in the soils judging contest at the sub-district and district level, plus is on the state committee. He is the reason the SAC SWCD holds a yearly sub-district soils judging contest. At the sub-district contest, Doug takes the lead and prepares all the schools for the day’s events, even during COVID with a virtual sub-district contest. As an FFA instructor, Doug encourages his students to participate in a community service project which provides healthy meals to those in need. He encourages students to take on projects that teach them to live off the land – trapping, farming / gardening, and animal husbandry. Within the classroom his students learn how to raise fish and chickens, run a greenhouse where they grow vegetables and flowers, plant and manage corn and soybean test plots, plus maintain an arboretum on the edge of town. Doug’s students have advanced to the National Land Judging competition four times and he has had students go on to be soil scientists, agronomists, and farmers. All a testament to his teachings!