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HeartLands Conservancy presents six Green Leaf Achievement Awards


From Illinois Business Journal news services

HeartLands Conservancy recognized the achievements of six individuals and organizations that are making a positive impact on the environment in Southwestern Illinois during the 2nd Annual Green Leaf Achievement Awards presentation.

The presentation took place during HeartLands Conservancy’s annual dinner in April.

The Green Leaf Achievement Awards celebrate achievements in different areas of environmental awareness—from individuals to groups to businesses—all making a local impact in conserving land, building greener communities, and engaging people with nature. Categories include Agriculture, Business/Industry, Community/County, Individual/Group, and Youth/Education. HeartLands Conservancy is excited to recognize the momentous efforts of those in this region that share our interests in protecting our precious natural resources and sustainable community development. “We are so grateful for all of the work of all of the finalists that have contributed to sustainability in Southwestern Illinois and were are pleased to honor them this evening,” said Mary Vandevord, Chief Operating Officer of HeartLands Conservancy.

2016 Green Leaf Achievement Award Winners:

Huelsmann’s Livestock Farm—David F. Huelsmann of Breese, received the Green Leaf Achievemet Award in Agriculture. The Huelsmanns applied for assistance from HeartLands Conservancy through the IEPA 319 cost share program and made structural improvements to their 250 head beef cattle farm in order to better manage the waste produced and to limit water runoff into streams. As a result, 317 pounds of phosphorus and 1,586 pounds of nitrogen will be reduced from entering nearby streams per year—improving water quality in the Lake Branch of the Shoal and Sugar Creek Watershed, a tributary to the Kaskaskia River.

Prairie State Generating Company of Marissa, wins the Business and Industry Green Leaf Achievement Award for their Beneficial Reuse Initiatives. As one of the newest, cleanest, and most efficient power plants in the country, Prairie State Generating Company provides for the reuse of three byproducts from the generation of energy at their plants. The power plant invested $8.2 million to implement two material handling upgrades to better handle these byproducts. As a result, 24,546 tons of gypsum, 116,073 tons of bottom ash, and 20,455 tons of fly ash were reused—avoiding landfill disposal and generating a revenue of $127,915; the overall value of the beneficial reuse activities including cost avoidance totals $3,389,498 for 2015.

Community/County Green Leaf Achievement Award goes to the City of Columbia for their Admiral Trost Development Park Master Plan. This unique plan for the 33-acre parcel of land bounded by development, creeks, and agricultural land is the city of Columbia’s next link in their extensive system of connected parks and trails. The plan includes wetland development that creates wildlife habitat and educational opportunities along loop trails and boardwalks. Ultimately, the Admiral Trost Development Park will combine an aesthetically functional park landscape, proactively address stormwater management, and increase the number of recreational soccer fields—creating a destination park for both residents and visitors to Columbia.

Sierra Club, Piasa Palisades’ Three Rivers Project wins the Individual/Group Green Leaf Achievement Award. The Three Rivers Project is creating vigorous environmental advocates throughout the Piasa Palisades region and has endeavored to protect the region’s three big rivers: the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri for the past 15 years. The group also works to protect wetlands and open space, help build healthy and sustainable communities, and work towards a clean energy future. The project has engaged 2,200 River Citizens to serve as stewards of the river, organized invasive species removal in Rock Spring Park, supports green infrastructure and development in the region, and helps to sponsor and organize various events in the community to promote sustainability and environmental awareness.

Two Green Leaf Achievement Awards in Youth/Education go to the Illinois RiverWatch Network—National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, East Alton, and Kim Petzing, Green Schools Coordinator in Madison County. The Illinois RiverWatch Network is a statewide, non-profit, volunteer stream monitoring program. Volunteers are trained and certified to monitor and protect a local stream. Volunteers contributed nearly 100 hours of time to monitoring water quality in 12 streams, of which none had been assessed by the state. RiverWatch goes beyond the state requirements for river monitoring and generates valuable water quality data and engages a wide variety of individuals and groups in education of stream habitat and macroinvertebrate monitoring.

Created in 1990, the Green Schools Program focuses on educating young people about the importance of recycling and sustainability and currently addresses a wide range of topics including air, consumerism, energy, food, green buildings, green economy, humanitarian/social justice, landscaping, plastic bags, solid waste, and wellness. Ms. Petzing works with over 80 schools in Madison County, impacting over 20,000 students through the development and coordination programs including a rain barrel design competition, recycling drives, flag monitoring, rain gauge monitoring, TREX plastic film recycling, tab top collection and competitions, a clean air bookmark design contest, shoe collections, Green Seed environmental grants, earth flag celebrations, Trashformation and Photo Voice competitions.

Daniel Stocker, trustee of the Margaret M. Butz estate that preserved 9 acres of land in the midst of vast development in St. Clair County, the Monroe County Fifth Grade Conservation Days that have impacted over 5,400 people in the past 18 years, and U-Studios for their continued focus on environmentally friendly architecture and use of energy saving materials and processes were also recognized as finalists for the 2016 Green Leaf Achievement Awards.

A beer tasting featuring organic locally brewed beer by Old Bakery Beer Company was a highlight of the evening. James Rogalsky, brewer and co-owner of the Alton, Illinois-based brewery, also discussed how they are utilizing local goods and employing sustainable business practices in their company as part of the dinner’s keynote address.

HeartLands Conservancy would like to recognize the sponsors of this event: EWR Architects, Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, The Material Works, Ltd., Clinton County Soil and Water Conservation District, Nelson & Nelson Attorneys at Law, P.C., Randolph County Soil and Water Conservation District, Civil Design, Inc., and Gateway FS, Inc.

HeartLands Conservancy looks forward to Field to Fork in July—where attendees will enjoy a 5+ course dinner prepared by a variety of local chefs, all to benefit land conservation in Southwestern Illinois! Those interested in membership, sponsorship, or ticket information can contact Kim O’Bryan, Development and Special Events Coordinator, at (618) 566-4451 ex. 10 or email

For more information regarding HeartLands Conservancy, to become a member, or to learn more about the work we do in Southwestern Illinois, visit or email

HeartLands Conservancy, serving Southwestern Illinois since 1989, is devoted to the conservation of land, to the preservation of green spaces, sustainable and environmentally friendly community planning, and engaging neighbors with nature. Visit

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