Virginia Watershed Restoration Specialist
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
On behalf of the Virginia State Dairymen's Association, I would like to nominate Libby Norris for the 2013 Erchul Environmental Leadership Award. Libby has been a valuable asset to the dairy industry in Virginia. Her ability to relate to producers has enabled her to help farmers maintain and improve water quality. Libby has also provided active outreach to the dairy industry through the "Farmers to the Bay" trip. Libby has also organized and led many grants and projects in the Shenandoah Valley that have worked towards improving water quality.
As NRCS's Smith Creek coordinator for USDA's showcase watershed in Va., I have had a first hand view of Libby Norris's skills at working with landowners to promote conservation implementation. You can tell very quickly that conservation practices are more than just words on paper to her. She also has a unique way of making landowners feel comfortable and not overwhelmed with the BMP jargon.
As agencies promoting conservation, we each have our limitations or program rules. I remember five agencies sitting on picnic tables in a farmers front yard in Smith Creek as each presented their respective program information. I noticed her standing back, listening to the landowner questions. She ultimately took the landowners concerns and molded each agencies support into a project plan where CBF filled in the gaps to meet the landowners goals. This project will be the largest stream exclusion and stream bank restoration project in Smith Creek to date.
As coordinator, people have asked me what strategy we implemented to increase BMP implementation in Smith Creek. Nothing revolutionary is my response and I tell them this story. I can think of no person better deserving of the Erchul Environmental Leadership Award and I respectfully submitted the name of Libby Norris for your consideration.
Libby Norris told me a story once about a cattle farmer she worked with who had pastures along the Shenandoah River. As they walked together through his fields, he said “you environmentalists float down the river and point fingers at me for letting my cattle drink out of the stream. But you never bother to come up here and see things from where I’m standing.” Libby bothers to listen, and as a result, she designs conservation practices that work for the farmer and water quality. She has also led efforts that demonstrate how conservation agencies and non-profits can work collaboratively, most recently in the Smith Creek watershed where nearly seven miles of livestock stream exclusion have been installed in the past three years. She is adept at securing funding from numerous sources for a project, in a process that is seamless for the farmer, and she has developed resources for other conservation professionals to do the same. She has introduced hundreds of Virginia farmers to watermen on Tangier Island, and has served as a bridge between the environmental community and farmers in support of state and federal cost share programs. She is not only good at her job, she is by far one of the most well-respected people I know.
As an Extension Specialist in the Shenandoah Valley, I have worked with Libby Norris on a number of environmental and educational projects. I first worked with Libby on Farmers- to-the-Bay and Watermen-to-the-Valley exchanges that were developed to encourage better understanding and foster collaboration to address the water quality and environmental issues facing farmers and watermen in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Libby always established good rapport with the farmers and watermen, and they appreciated her knowledge of conservation and deep commitment to practical solutions to environmental challenges. Additionally, Libby has been a tremendous resource for Valley high school teachers and students interested in farming, environmental resource management, and hands-on educational experiences like tree planting, water quality monitoring, and riparian area restoration projects. Libby's conservation ethic is exemplary and she is most deserving of the recognition for environmental excellence.
I am nominating Ms. Libby Norris, Virginia Watershed Restoration Specialist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the 2013 Erchul Environmental Leadership Award.
Joe Maroon and I hired Ms. Norris many years ago as the first restoration scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Virginia. Through her leadership, Ms. Norris took a fledgling initiative and built it into an award-winning conservation program, one that has led to improved water quality, acres and acres of habitat restoration, new relationships among watermen, environmentalists, and farmers, and partnerships with other advocacy groups as well as state and federal agencies. She has leveraged funds in extraordinary ways—no one can stretch a dollar further than Ms. Norris—to the benefit of Virginia’s environment and agricultural heritage.
No one is more deserving than Ms. Norris of this award. She is the epitome of how one person can quietly, determinatively, and powerfully make a difference by respecting both friends and adversaries so as to accomplish fundamental environmental improvement.
Libby Norris has spent more than 11 years representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley farm community. Her goal has been to meet, understand, and engage farmers in conservation projects that reduce pollution and improve the health of farm streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
As a Bay advocate with multiple biology degrees, Libby focuses on water quality, but she understands fully that good conservation must also benefit the farmer and his operation. Because of her knowledge and genuine conviction that conservation must be a win-win, she is always mindful of farmers’ individual situations, needs, and constraints in pursuing affordable, cost-effective conservation practices. That’s one reason Libby has been so successful in working with hundreds of farmers on scores of projects to fence livestock from farm streams, establish rotational grazing, plant riparian buffers, restore wetlands, and use other conservation practices. The projects not only have improved water quality but, for example, have helped farmers improve their herd health and pasture management.
But Libby also succeeds because of her natural friendliness, sensitivity, and integrity. Farmers respect and trust Libby because she respects and trusts farmers. She is an incredibly effective ambassador for clean water and Bay stewardship in the farm community. And through CBF’s “Farmer to the Bay” program, which she created a decade ago to take Shenandoah farmers on weekend trips to Tangier Island, Libby is an effective ambassador for the farm community among Virginia watermen. She is the consummate bridge-builder, creating a legacy of healthy farms and a healthy Bay.
Please accept my nomination for Ms. Libby Norris, Virginia Restoration Scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the 2013 Erchul Environmental Leadership Award. I have known and worked with Ms. Norris for many years and in many different capacities. I can say, without hesitation, that she is a committed conservationist who has led numerous efforts to engage multiple agencies and partners in environmental restoration on working lands. Her leadership has resulted in dialogues and cooperative efforts between the environmental and agricultural communities at unprecedented levels and with unparalleled success. She has played a leadership role in award winning projects including the Rappahannock Land Protection Partnership, which received a Partners in Conservation Award from the Secretary of the Interior in 2009. The Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded the Chesapeake Bay Foundation an Earth Team Partners award for Ms. Norris's efforts to engage hundreds of volunteers in the installation of stream buffers in the Shenandoah Valley. Ms. Norris's commitment to both clean water and viable farms, her vision and leadership in building bridges among communities, and her success in making on-the ground conservation goals a reality are a model for Bay restoration efforts around the watershed. The impacts she has had on the protection of Virginia's land and water is significant and worthy of recognition.
There is no one who more deserves the 2013 Erchul Environmental Leadership Award then Libby Norris. Libby’s on-the-ground conservation work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in the Shenandoah Valley combines optimism, environmental knowledge, and a down to earth approach that resonates with farmers. Her technical knowledge of state and federal Best Management Practices, combined with concern about Virginia’s water quality, gives her the credibility to get the job done. In the Valley, Libby is a wonderful partner who includes the state, federal and local groups necessary to find funding for and complete projects. A recent example is the Clean Streams Initiative she worked on in the Valley, helping bring together partners from Friends of the North Fork and Shenandoah River, NRCS, to the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Virginia Tech. This grant combined outreach and education related to conservation practices with funds to ramp up stream exclusion in targeted counties in the Valley. She has worked with partners to try some innovative education strategies such as bringing Shenandoah Valley Farmers to the Bay to see how the waterman farm and vice versa. She has led Smith Creek trips and is always game to try anything innovative to help water quality.
Shenandoah Riverkeeper would like to Nominate Libby Norris of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the Erchul Environmental Leadership Award. For years Libby has demonstrated that she can bridge the gap between an environmental organization and the farming community. This is no small gap and no small task. She has done it by working with landowners to promote farming practices that benefit the environment, and at the same time benefits the Shenandoah River. Libby, and her work, are highly respected throughout all factions of the community. I'm glad we have her working in the Shenandoah Valley.
Ms. Norris is an energetic conservation leader. I previously participated in Chesapeake Bay Foundation's, led by her, "Farmer to the Bay" trips and have greatly enjoyed this educational and unique opportunity for farmers to experience the Chesapeake Bay. Libby has a reputation as both a friendly, and tenacious, conservationist working hands-on with Virginia farmers.
I am President of Virginia Poultry Federation, and have worked with Libby Norris for several years. Libby deserves this award for her extraordinary efforts to work with farmers to implement conservation measures to protect water resources. She has spent many days and hours on farms and I have personally seen the results: award winning farming operations that set an example for farm stewardship. Libby has brought farmers to the Bay to see the importance of that extraordinary resource. She is a tremendous ambassador to the farm community, earning farmers' respect, and she has produced tangible water quality benefits through her efforts. Thank you.