September’s meeting of the RWBJV Management Board was bittersweet. During the meeting three long-time board members, Mike Onnen, Gloria Erickson, and Greg Reisdorff, were honored for their service. These individuals were involved with the Joint Venture for a total of over 57 years.
Mike Onnen served the RWBJV for 28 years. He was one of the initial members of the writing committee that drafted the Concept Plan for the RWBJV in 1991. Mike also assisted with drafting the first Implementation Plan in 1992. With the formation of the Management Board, Mike was asked to represent the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and continued in that role until his retirement in January 2019. During his tenure on the Board, Mike was instrumental in expanding the conservation options that are available to private landowners. This included arranging for the first conservation easement held by a Natural Resource District, working with Little Blue Natural Resources District Board to hold title to a portable tub/chute/alley system to increase grazing opportunities, as well as sponsoring several grants that provide cost-share options for pivot modifications to ensure pivots can cross restored wetlands.
Gloria Erickson joined the RWBJV Board in 1999 after being recognized as the Budweiser Sportsman of the Year. As part of this recognition, Gloria was provided $50,000 to direct to a conservation initiative of her choosing. Wanting to keep the project close to home, she reached out to her fellow commissioners on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and they identified the RWBJV as an option. After visiting with then-coordinator Steve Moran, Gloria committed the funding to the Joint Venture to help with the initial phases of the Lake Seldom project near Holdrege. Gloria also accepted a Board position representing private landowners, serving in that capacity for 20 years until she wanted to actively pursue the relaxation part of retirement.
Greg Reisdorff was the first representative of the Farm Service Agency to sit on the Joint Venture Management Board, beginning in 2010. Greg was instrumental in helping the RWBJV get access to the Field Boundary Layer, which allowed the RWBJV to develop direct mailings for different Conservation Reserve Programs across the state. Greg was also instrumental in the development of the Migratory Bird State Acres for Wildlife Conservation Reserve Program option for playa wetlands in Kansas and Nebraska. This program was so outside of the box at the time that it took three years of revisions to get Farm Service Agency approval from headquarters.
As the coordinator, I am going to miss their knowledge and commitment to the mission, as well as the friendships that were forged. Thank you, Mike, Gloria, and Greg, for the time, treasures, and talents that you invested in the RWBJV Partnership.
Photos by Niki Messmer, RWBJV