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Purdue Agriculture in Focus

Purdue Agriculture in Focus

May-June 2008

Agriculture Professor Receives National River Hero Award

DahlBernie Dahl, Program Chair of Landscape Architecture, Purdue University College of Agriculture, and a current director and past president of the Banks of the Wabash, Inc, is one of five national winners honored in May at the 2008 National River Rally held in Huron, Ohio.

Bernie is pictured here with Ron James (left), executive director of the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission. The River Network’s annual River Hero award celebrates rivers and those who protect them by recognizing some of the victories and honoring those who provide the Network with leadership and inspiration along the way. The award is open to any individual (board member, staff, volunteer or private citizen) who has successfully worked with a river conservation organization to improve a river and its watershed and who over the years has made a sustained contribution to the conservation of the river. Click here for a list of past recipients.

As Ron James said in nominating Dahl for a 2008 River Hero award, “Bernie casts a wide net of river-centric activities but is being nominated specifically for his efforts with the Banks of the Wabash, Inc., an organization which has as its mission to preserve, enhance and promote the significant historic, cultural, recreational and archaeological resources of the Wabash River Corridor and to improve the quality of life in communities along the corridor, create regional identity, pursue economic advancement and promote heritage tourism.  Bernie was a significant force in this organization’s creation and served as its president for the last decade; during its explosive growth as a regional river non-profit.”

Kenneth Einselen, President, Banks of the Wabash, Inc., says of our Hoosier River Hero Award recipient “Bernie Dahl has invested his life and career in the Wabash River . . . [his impact] upon the Wabash River, the lives of his many students, and that [‘spreading influence’ among] many communities today and in the future cannot be measured.”

Dahl's work as program chair for a top 10 landscape architecture school, has broadened his influence to more than 1000 graduates over a period of nearly 35 years. Purdue has allowed him to meld his passion in community assistance and service learning projects. Over the past 20 years Dahl, through this program, has conducted over 150 projects in over 120 communities with the overwhelming number proposing improving watersheds through public enhancement. Many of the communities are targeted because they traditionally would not engage the services of a landscape architect. This enabled Dahl and the Purdue classes the opportunity to educate communities of 560 to 130,000 about the benefits of the preservation of the riparian corridor, the maintenance of filters, and the broader mission of the entire corridor.

It was an honor for three of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts staff to be present at the 2008 River Heroes banquet to see a Hoosier receive this national award for his work and love of the Wabash River. Congratulations to Bernie Dahl from the IASWCD and our 92 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.