Ben Berlinger, retired Area Range Specialist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), received the Commissioner of Agriculture's Award for Conservation Excellence at the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts 75th annual meeting and conference in Colorado Springs on Tuesday.

For more than 40 years, Berlinger has been dedicated to supporting the next generation of Colorado citizens in beginning careers in natural resources management, ranching and farming. He's touched many lives and positively affected thousands of young people considering careers in agriculture or natural resources management.  

Hundreds of Colorado range managers of all ages credit Berlinger with helping them find their way in their careers.

He began his career with NRCS in 1975 and even in retirement continues to oversee week-long summer camps, workshops, and competitions such as Camp Rocky, FFA Rangeland Judging, Envirothon and the Society of Range Management High School Youth Forum. Year after year, more than 300 high school FFA students participate in Rangeland Judging competitions led by Berlinger.

As part of the award, a Colorado State flag that was flown above the state Capitol in honor of Berlinger was presented to him. The flag flew on Oct. 25 and also presented to him was a certificate  signed by Gov. Jared Polis to commemorate Berlinger’s contributions.   

Additional information about the award:

it is awarded to a Conservation District Supervisor/Conservation Partner who has demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following areas:

-Leadership that brings dollars and resources to the district and to benefit the land.
-Volunteers in service for the conservation community.
-Serves in various capacities and assists in sustaining Colorado’s agricultural industry.
-Strives to further the collective goals of the conservation community to benefit more of Colorado’s natural resources.
-Successful in developing conservation partnerships.
-Provides a vision for the future of agriculture and the conservation movement.
-Fosters future conservation leaders.
-Practices good conservation on their own land.