INDIANAPOLIS — Greenfield resident and former USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist Jane Hardisty is a recent recipient of one of Indiana’s top honors — the Sagamore of the Wabash.
The award from Gov. Eric J. Holcomb was presented at Hardisty’s retirement dinner on Feb. 23 by Indiana State Department of Agriculture deputy director Melissa Rekeweg and Division of Soil Conservation director Jordan Seger to recognize her outstanding leadership in agriculture and conservation and in 43 years of public service.
Kevin Wickey, NRCS regional conservationist and Hardisty’s former supervisor, spoke at the dinner, saying while it was impossible to sum up her career, he could try to give a few highlights of her past 17 years as head of the Indiana NRCS.
Under Hardisty’s leadership, nearly $1 billion in financial and technical assistance was directed to Hoosier farmers and other landowners that helped install more than 500,000 conservation practices to address natural resource issues, such as erosion, flooding, and invasive plants on some 17 million acres of farmland.
Hardisty provided $36 million in disaster recovery, helping communities repair streams, dams, bridges and roads after natural disasters. In addition to working land conservation efforts, NRCS has protected nearly 80,000 acres of wetlands, floodplains, grasslands and forests through conservation easements and is working with landowners to restore them for generations to come.
Hardisty also was instrumental in protecting several nature preserves and wildlife areas like Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Kankakee Sands Preserve near Morocco and Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve near Ft. Wayne.
The Sagamore is an honorary award created by the state during the term of Gov. Ralph F. Gates in the mid-1940s. Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians and citizens who have contributed greatly to Hoosier heritage.