Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Alberta soil conservationist nominated to Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame

Posted: March 6, 2013

Alberta conservation leader, John Hermans, has been honored for his lifetime of achievement and leadership in soil and water conservation by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC). Hermans was inducted into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame in Ottawa, March 5, 2013.

Throughout his career John provided strong leadership and guidance to extension and research efforts aimed at soil conservation and sustainable practices in agriculture. "Few people have made a greater commitment in Alberta to maintaining the quality of soils and water than John Hermans," says Josie Van Lent, SCCC vice president, who presented Hermans with his award.

Hermans, retired from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), lives in Edmonton, Alberta. He attended the University of Alberta and graduated with a B.Sc. in Agriculture with Distinction, and a M.Sc. in Soil Science. John taught at the Vermilion College, the Forestry School in Hinton and worked with the Irrigation Division before accepting a position as the Provincial Soil Conservation Supervisor with ARD.

Serving as a manager with ARD, John formed the Conservation and Development Branch in 1983. The Branch provided a provincial focus for soil and water conservation in Alberta. The mandate of the Branch included soil and water awareness, extension, research and soil and water monitoring. He coordinated the development of Alberta's Agro-climate climatic Information Service and guided the development and management of several federal-provincial environmental sustainable agriculture programs.

"John has been a strong supporter of SCCC and soil conservation, having served on the board of directors for 12 years", says Don McCabe, president of SCCC. "John was a leader in promoting National Soil Conservation week in Alberta and throughout Canada."

He has received many awards. They include: A Soil and Water Conservation Society award for developing soil conservation awareness films including "Gone with the Wind" and "Oh Gulley, Where's the Soil"; AIA Distinguished Agrologist Award; Premier's Award of Excellence - Alberta's Reduced Tillage Initiative; Premier's Award of Excellence - North American Waterfowl Management Plan; Growing Alberta Leadership Award; Alberta Emerald Foundation; Award, Premier's Award of Excellence-Coalbed Methane, Natural Gas in Coal consultation process; and inducted as a member of the Green Team - Growing Alberta.

Hermans has been a long-time active volunteer in his community and the province, serving on the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. He has served as secretary/treasurer of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta and as a national board member. In 1989 he volunteered to serve as the President of the Alberta Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

The Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by SCCC to recognize the contributions of Canadians to the conservation ethic in Canada, says Glen Shaw, executive director of SCCC. "Nominees for induction can be farmers or those directly employed in agriculture or soil conservation related activities, but also scientists, extension workers, educators, writers or anyone who has made a significant contribution through their dedication to promoting conservation. Their accomplishments and contributions may be on a national, provincial, regional or local level."

SCCC is a leading player in National Soil Conservation Week, held April 21-27, 2013. Information on current soil conservation efforts including acknowledgement of "soil champions" will be highlighted on the SCCC Web site at www.soilcc.ca.