2020 Awardees

Sara Creech

Sara Creech is owner and operator of Blue Yonder Organic Farm in beautiful central Indiana. Sara founded the farm in 2012 after losing her husband to cancer. During his fight, they researched the role of nutrition and how healthy foods can impact human health. What began as a garden project for growing quality healthy produce for her family, has grown into a fully functioning direct-market farm growing grass-fed beef, lamb, and eggs, as well as a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, maple syrup, and honey. Sara also offers her products at area Farmers Markets and has established a CSA for locals in the community.

Not only is Sara providing a service to her community with the locally sourced products she raises, but she opens her farm to help new farmers see various farming and conservation practices. Sara is active in several organizations including Women 4 the Land, Indiana Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and Operation Groundwork. In 2018, she was the first woman voted to serve on her local Soil and Water Conservation District Board. Sara was a featured speaker at the Indiana Forage Council's 2019 Annual Meeting and has been featured in Indiana Prairie Farmer. She is also the 2017 recipient of the Loughmiller Good Steward Award.

Karen Brinkman

Karen Brinkman, Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships and Initiatives in Missouri. In the last three years she built Missouri's program and conservation partnerships with: Local SWCD/DNR, MDC, QU/PF, Farm Bureau, MO Cattlemen's, MFA, MO Soybean, MO Corn, MO Rice, University MO Extension Grassland/Soil Health Initiative as well as others.

These partnerships have brought millions of dollars to Missouri for Programs, Staff and advancements of partners programs through NRCS Grants while working side by side with NRCS. Through Karen's work the need has been identified and partners have come together and bought into the program and have seen the statewide benefits for their staff and producers they serve. In addition, NRCS has seen the benefit to our producers and the conservation of our natural resources.

Karen supported WIN at the local, state and national level. Several Missouri WIN Members were recruited by Karen as she knew the benefit the program held in advancement of their career. With Karen's influence Missouri has been able to send staff to these conferences.

Karen was a formal as well as an Informal mentor to many of us and an excellent supervisor. She always had an open door to those seeking advice professionally and personally. Karen personally exemplified that you do not give up even when things are not going the way you feel they should be either personally or professionally. Her positive attitude had a way of encouraging others.