Hall of Honor

The District created a “Hall of Honor” in 2003 as a way to permanently recognize the men and women who have made significant and long-term contributions to the conservation ethic here in Westmoreland County. Plaques honoring each inductee are displayed in the main meeting room at the District’s headquarters.

 

Hall of Honor

2003

Gilbert J. “Gib” Hutter

Pioneer Conservationist

Gilbert J. “Gib” Hutter, of Mt. Pleasant Township, was a pioneer in using modern conservation practices on his dairy farm and inspiring others to do the same on farms and other open spaces throughout the region. As a Director of the Westmoreland Conservation District for 24 years (starting in 1965), he served as Vice Chairman and Chairman. Hundreds of landowners became official “Cooperators” with the District in conserving the land and water during his tenure. Hutter led in creating and implementing the District’s first master plan and was instrumental in the installation of the Jacobs Creek flood control and prevention project that protects Scottdale and Everson. He helped create Donohoe Center, housing various agriculture groups and was able to expand the District’s involvement with many local organizations involved in conservation and farming. He will be remembered for his love of the land and his willingness to convert that love into constructive labor.

Hall of Honor

2004

Paul Heyworth

Promoter of Thought & Action

Paul Heyworth, born and raised on a farm in New England, settled in Greensburg, PA during the early 1960s to raise his family. As a talented newspaperman whose niche was the editorial side, Paul got thousands of people thinking and talking about conservation. Friendly and bold, he delighted in sparking lively discussions about conservation issues and ethics. He raised hard questions, challenged core beliefs, and championed new perspectives. Paul served the Westmoreland Conservation District as Vice Chairman from 1968-1970 and as an Associate Director from 1975-2004. For the District, he promoted a strong, positive media relationship and the development of professional communication tools. His work helped create new conservation advocates, generate financial support, and create public policies that benefited the Westmoreland Conservation District and districts across Pennsylvania. His passion for conservation and the environment energized others to take action to promote stable soil, clean streams, productive farms, healthy forests, and sustainable communities.

Hall of Honor

2005

Elwood Leslie

Professional Management

Elwood Leslie set a course for the Westmoreland Conservation District that has remained relevant for more than three decades. As the first full-time employee hired to lead the young organization, Elwood created and built the core conservation programs the District continues to be best known for – erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and education. During Elwood’s tenure (1970-1984), many of the major conservation initiatives we now take for granted first took shape, including the Clean Streams Act and the Jacobs Creek Flood Control Project. Elwood also helped to launch several local watershed associations, and he created one of the first Environmental Information Centers in the region. With his genial style and tireless energy, Elwood was a very effective ambassador for conservation. He often was invited to speak at national conferences, and is even credited with helping to organize a conservation district in the western US. Under his guidance, the Westmoreland Conservation District won its first Goodyear award, recognizing it as the best conservation district in the nation (1977).

Hall of Honor

2005

Frank E. Skacel Sr.

Outstanding Financial Steward

Frank E. Skacel Sr. treated the District funds with as much scrutiny and care as he did his own family’s finances. For the two full decades that he served as the District’s treasurer, Frank personally reviewed each and every check that was written. Before he would authorize a check with his signature, he had to be satisfied that there was a good reason for every expenditure, and that the District had received a good value for every dollar spent. To be sure, Frank’s frugal management of District funds from 1975 to 1995 went a long way toward building the solid financial base that continues to benefit the organization even today. His 26 years of outstanding service to conservation – which also included assuming the responsibilities of District director from 1968 to 1995, and vice chairman from 1972 to 1980 earned Frank the distinction of being named as the Westmoreland Conservation District’s first and only Director Emeritus.

Hall of Honor

2006

Ann Rudd Saxman

Designer and Shaper of Landscapes

For nearly 50 years, Ann Rudd Saxman could be found, shovel in hand, at most every important landscape project in this region – from the gentle tending of the natural areas at Fallingwater, to the planning and planting of the arboretum at the Greensburg Garden Center.

A skilled horticultural designer and trained botanist, she was a consumate volunteer who also worked professionally to create landscapes for industry, churches, schools, libraries, and private homeowners throughout our region. Many of these landscapes remain today.

But it was her personal passion for conservation – especially soil and water conservation, composting, and open space preservation – that had the most lasting effect on the landscape of our county.

Ann’s progressive thinking and enthusiasm helped to launch important new conservation initiatives. Her compelling belief that, in gardening as well as in the community, nothing should be wasted led her to become a driving force in establishing municipal composting in our county.

And she was one of the earliest advocates for the preservation of open space. In 1960, at her urging, the Westmoreland County Commissioners set aside a large tract of undeveloped land for a nature park that has since been named in her honor. In the process of preserving this land, Ann also set in motion another important initiative – the county park system.

Ann’s respect for soil, plants, and everything in the natural world was contagious and, through her volunteer service with many organizations, including the Westmoreland Conservation District (Associate Director, 1969-1990), her classroom teaching, community slide shows, and local radio program, she touched many lives and inspired generations of community leaders who are continuing her legacy.

Hall of Honor

2008

P. Roy Kemerer

Empowering Youth

Generations of 4-H members, young farmers, and aspiring conservationists grew in their knowledge and love of the land because of the tutelage of P. Roy Kemerer. Roy sowed many lasting seeds in the lives of young people and in the future of our community. He gave freely of his time, energy and guidance to area youth, his church, local agricultural organizations, and the District, despite the heavy daily demands of his own 102-acre model conservation dairy farm in Pleasant Unity. His influence extended beyond Westmoreland County, to the larger nation through his service with the National Young Farmers organization, and even internationally, as he and his wife Thelma often hosted agriculture exchange students from as far away as Australia, Kenya, Germany, Uruguay, and Switzerland in their home. Roy was a man whose words were few, but whose commitments were genuine and deep. His service as a District Director spanned two full decades (1988-2008), and is the second-longest volunteer service commitment in the history of the organization. His influence continues to be felt, in the daily practice and continuing example of the generations of lives that he touched.

Hall of Honor

2012

J. Roy Houston

Enduring Friendship

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

-G. Randolf

J. Roy Houston was a truly great friend to the Westmoreland Conservation District.

His introduction to our organization in the late 1960s may have been orchestrated (his boss at Peoples Natural Gas wanted employees to get involved with local organizations), but once the connection was made, it proved to be a perfect match. Friendship took hold quickly. And held tight for the next four decades.

Roy became the District’s chairman and its greatest champion, using his affable nature to draw others to the conservation cause. Long before social media, Roy counted his friends in the hundreds, and many of them became our friends simply because they liked him, and he liked us.

Roy’s habit of keeping his conversations light and his commitments sincere helped the young conservation district make friends in new arenas, too, including the foundation community, government, economic development, business, and the growing number of likeminded agencies. In partnerships with each, the District blossomed during his chairmanship (1970-2010), growing from one employee to 15…from one conservation program to seven…and from a handful of volunteers to a support base of nearly 100 individuals.

Roy’s friendship with the District helped him learn many things about soil, water, forests, and farms. But the one thing he always knew – and indeed, taught us – is that the most important resource of all is friendship.

 

Hall of Honor

2014

Dorothy Stoner

Conservation and
Dairy Farming Advocate

Dorothy Stoner was a passionate advocate for conservation and dairy farming.

For upwards of 50 years, Dorothy and her
husband Richard ran a model 260-acre dairy
farm in Unity Township where they incorporated state-of-the-art conservation measures and best management practices to keep their cows healthy and the surrounding land and water – including the headwaters of Sewickley Creek – clean. The depth of their commitment to conservation led the District to name them Conservation Farmer of the Year in 2001.

Dorothy wanted more than anything to keep area dairy farming viable. She worked diligently toward that goal and she took her message to all who would listen.

She promoted the value of conservation practices to other farmers.

She advocated with legislators and government officials through the boards she served on, including the Farm Service Agency and the Westmoreland Conservation District (director, 1995-2006; associate director, 2009-2011), that farmers should receive the same supports available to other small businesses.

And she planned for the future. Over the years, she hosted hundreds of elementary school students at her farm, where they discovered that milk comes from cows, not the supermarket, what life is like on a dairy farm, and the joys of choosing agriculture as a profession.

Dorothy gained broad support for her message because she spoke with passion, and with the authority of experience. It also didn’t hurt that her delivery included her characteristic broad smile, gentle tone, and more often than not, a few of the just-out-of-the-oven sweets she loved to bake.

Dorothy gained broad support for her message because she spoke with passion, and with the authority of experience. It also didn’t hurt that her delivery included her characteristic broad smile, gentle tone, and more often than not, a few of the just-out-of-the-oven sweets she loved to bake.

Dorothy Stoner portrait BW