Tom Salzer
Tom Salzer

During a recent conversation with a long-standing member of our conservation district community, I began to think about a possible relationship between conservation district success and the people who have served in leadership positions. Let’s examine that thought.

It’s a given that some conservation districts have become quite successful if one measures success by the amount of funding received, by uptake of conservation services, and by the number of conservation district staff.

It’s a given that some conservation district supervisors have been active at the state level through sitting on the Washington State Conservation Commission or serving as an officer or director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts. Similarly, some conservation district staff have participated in the leadership of the Washington Association of District Employees.

Is there a causal link between these two things? Is the success of a conservation district driven, in part, by the broader perspective and greater leadership skills acquired by our state-level leaders? Or are our leaders a result of a conservation district achieving more success?

A possible relationship between district success and serving in leadership is interesting to consider. For example, take a moment to examine the list of WACD’s past presidents and the conservation districts they hailed from. Many of those conservation districts are now leading lights in our conservation district world. Were they so when their supervisor served as WACD president? I think the answer is: not always. That spurs the thought that perhaps the act of serving in leadership helped their district become more successful.

Naturally, I like that idea very much because it means that one way to help districts become more successful is to recruit more leaders from districts that have room to grow. I like it because it means that serving in leadership provides value not only to our statewide community but also to each leader’s home conservation district.

Below is our table of past presidents. By the way, if you know the information for the blank entries below, please do share that information with us.

Always yours for conservation,

Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director

WACD PresidentTermConservation District
Mike Mumford2022-Pend Oreille Conservation District
Jeanette Dorner2019-2022Pierce Conservation District
Tom Miller2017-2018Spokane County Conservation District
Mark Craven2016Snohomish Conservation District
Alan Stromberger *2013-2015Lincoln County Conservation District
David Guenther2011-2013Central Klickitat Conservation District
Chris Herron2009-2011Franklin Conservation District
Dean Longrie2007-2008Clark Conservation District
Fred Colvin2006-2007Thurston Conservation District
Paul Stoker2004-2006Othello Conservation District (now Grant CD)
Wade Troutman2001-2003Foster Creek Conservation District
Colleen Bennett2000-2002Central Klickitat Conservation District
Larry Cochran1997-1999Palouse Conservation District
Linda Arcuri1995-1997Pierce Conservation District
Bob Haberman1993-1995Kittitas County Conservation District
Ronald Juris1991-1993Eastern Klickitat Conservation District
J. Read Smith1989-1991Palouse - Rock Lake Conservation District
Howard Jaeger *1987-1989Cowlitz Conservation District
Gus Bremer1985-1987
Merrill Camp1983-1985Walla Walla County Conservation District
Gerald B. Digerness1981-1983Whatcom Conservation District
R. E. Cornelius, Sr. *1979-1981North Yakima Conservation District
Charles W. O'Neill, Jr.1977-1979
George Carstens1975-1977Lincoln County Conservation District (?)
John Snider, Jr.1973-1975Hi-Land Soil Conservation District (now North Yakima CD)
Wayne Reid *1971-1973Palouse Conservation District
Francis "Bud" Clerf1969-1971Kittitas County Conservation District
Conrad Hougen1967-1969Whatcom Conservation District
H. Scott Barr1965-1967Stevens County Conservation District
Robert Whitmore1963-1965South Palouse Conservation District
Robert F. Wiley1961-1963Ahtanum-Moxee Conservation District (now North Yakima CD)
James R. Setters1959-1961Palouse-Rock Lake Conservation District
Gay C. Digerness *1957-1959Whatcom Conservation District
Lyle Groundwater1957Thurston Conservation District
Oscar A. Camp1955-1956Whitman Conservation District
T. R. Hedges1953-1954Douglas Conservation District
Dave J. Doneen, Jr.1951-1952Whitman County (which district?)
Frank Carothers1950South Palouse Conservation District
Robert B. Webb1948-1949Wahkiakum Conservation District
J. W. Cornwall *1946-1947Latah-Rock Creek Conservation District (now Spokane)
R. L. Rutter, Jr.1944-1945Kittitas Conservation District
Henry J. Copeland1942-1943Walla Walla Conservation District


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