Barb McWhorter, State Forester with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in West Virginia, has been awarded the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture Outstanding Partner Award for her instrumental role in the development and initial implementation of our Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement project. AMJV Coordinator Todd Fearer presented Barb with the award at the West Virginia NRCS State Technical Committee meeting in Morgantown on January 25th. The AMJV Management Board voted in 2016 to create this award to recognize partners who go above-and-beyond in their contributions to and support of our Joint Venture activities, but whose efforts are largely behind the scenes.
Barb is the first recipient of this award for her invaluable insight and advice with respect to NRCS procedures and conservation practices that informed multiple aspects of the project proposal. Along with her vital help on the proposal, she helped staff understand how the project needed to be designed for compatibility with NRCS’ operations. After the JV was awarded a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, she continued to be an asset by working not only with West Virginia NRCS staff, but also with partners to promote the project and ensure successful on the ground implementation. She graciously served as a mentor to Kyle Aldinger, our West Virginia RCPP Coordinator, helping him get established in the Morgantown NRCS office and making sure he was supported by staff and provided with the necessary tools and training to successfully execute his position.
There is no doubt Barb’s efforts have greatly increased the pace at which the Cerulean Warbler RCPP work is being delivered in West Virginia. The actual on the ground conservation impact has occurred more quickly, and will be of greater value for the species based on the time and effort Barb has invested. Throughout both the proposal development and project implementation, she has gone above and beyond to assist JV partners, and has always been gracious and professional at every step. Even when faced with challenges or potential roadblocks, she would invariably end a conversation by stating some variation of “We’ll find a way to get it done.” She accomplished all of this while occasionally serving as de facto biologist or resource conservationist during times of NRCS staff turnover. For all of this outstanding support, the AMJV is pleased to recognize her with this outstanding partner award.