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President's Award

Each year the Colorado Foundation for Water Education bestows the President's Award on a Coloradoan who meets a predetermined set of criteria. The awardee generally has a body of work in the field of water resources benefiting the Colorado public; a reputation among peers; a commitment to balanced and accurate information; among other qualities. Past recipients include John Fetcher (2007) and Ken and Ruth Wright (2008), Dick Bratton (2009), Russ George (2010), Nolan Doesken (2011), Representative Diane Hoppe and Senator Lewis Entz (2012), Jim Isgar (2013) and Alan Hamel (2014). The award is presented at an invitational reception held each spring.
In 2010, CFWE introduced the Emerging Leader Award to honor recent work by a young Colorado professional to strengthen and improve water education in the state. Past winners include Eric Hecox(2010), Hannah Holm (2011), Amy Beatie (2013) and Sean Cronin (2014).

2016 President's Reception


 CFWE's annual President's Award Reception gala and fundraiser

Friday, May 20, 2016 6:00 PM
Space Gallery, Denver

Thank you for joining us on May 20 for a special evening in celebration of water education. 

 hickelooper Diane Hoppe Leadership Award: Governor John Hickenlooper
Emerging Leader Award: Heather Dutton, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District


Read more: 2016 President's Reception

2015 President's Reception


The Colorado Foundation for Water Education thanks all who supported us at the 2015 President's Award Reception. Where we honored Jim Lochhead with the President's Award and Greg Kernohan with the Emerging Leader Award. Find photos from the night here.


Jim Lochhead, 2015 President's Award

Colorado and California have gone head to head over the waters of the Colorado River since the early 20th century. The Entire length of the river from its source in Rocky Mountain National Park to Mexico's delta reflects Jim's personal and professional lifeline. Continue reading about Jim Lochhead.

 kernohan award

Greg Kernohan, 2015 Emerging Leader Award

Greg Kernohan helps farmers and cities address water needs while benefitting waterfowl. For more than15 years, he’s served as manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in Colorado.  He’s been both  entrepreneurial and innovative in leading the South Platte Wetlands Focus Area Committee, managing the Union Mutual Ditch Company, and participating for the last 10 years as a member of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, most recently as its vice-chair. Continue reading about Greg Kernohan. 

Read more: 2015 President's Reception

Jim Isgar, 2013 president's Award Winner

Congratulations to Jim Isgar, receiving the President's Award, and Amy Beatie, receiving the Emerging Leader Award. Find photos from the 2013 President's Award reception on Facebook.


Jim Isgar, 2013 President's Award

Looking at Jim Isgar, a bit grizzled from recent chemotherapy treatments to battle cancer, I see a generous man who stands as tall as Mt. Hesperus. Due north of Isgar’s family farm and ranch, Mt. Hesperus in southwestern Colorado’s La Plata Mountains is one of four mountains considered sacred to the Navajo. Isgar irrigates off the La Plata River outside of Breen, southwest of Durango. Like his father, Art, he has served on the H.H. Ditch Company board of directors, including 25 years as its president. Continue reading about Jim Isgar


Amy Beatie, 2013 Emerging Leader Award

Amy Beatie fights drought by putting water back into parched Colorado streams for fish, wildlife and people. In the summer of 2012, when Western Slope streams were running precariously low, the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust she leads helped to hold some of the hardest-hit waters together.

“In February of 2012, the snow wasn’t catching up,” says Beatie. “In March we realized the snow wasn’t coming at all.  It looked like a bad drought would hit every basin in the state.”

In 2003, another crucially short water year, the Colorado General Assembly enacted a short-term water lease statute to aid the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s instream flow program in drought years. Continue reading about Amy Beatie

Alan Hamel, 2014 President's Award Winner



Alan Hamel, 2014 President's Award
Caring for People and Watersheds

Growing up in Pueblo in the 1950s, Alan Hamel liked to swin in the Arkansas River. His father, Bob, owned an automobile repair business. His mother, Jean, worked as a psychiatric technician at the state hospital. in those days, Pueblo was a gritty industrial town largely dependent on Colorado Fuel and Iron, its steel and iron mill the principal employer. Ethnically diverse, a town of working men and women located at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Foundation Creek, Pueblo had a long history of manufacturing rails for the narrow gauges that opened up the Colorado Rockies for mining, timbering, settlement and recreation. Read more about Alan Hamel



 Sean Cronin, 2014 Emerging Leader Award
Shifting Rivers, Changing Course

Sean Cronin got used to planning for drought in his former job as a water resources manager for the City of Greeley, but since the devastating September 2013 flood in northern Colorado, he's been coping with way too much water.

As excutive director of the St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District, Sean is helping to piece together relationships necessary to construct more resilient water systems and riverine habitat for the near and long term. Read more about Sean Cronin




Diane Hoppe and Lewis Entz, 2012 President's Award Winners



In celebrating its 10th Anniversary, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education presented its President's Award for lifetime achievement in water education to Senator Lewis Entz and Representative Diane Hoppe. We enjoyed keynote remarks from Senator Mark Udall. Missed it? View photos from the event.

In the spring of the devastating 2002 drought, Representative Diane Hoppe and Senator Lewis Entz steered CFWE into existence.  In the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s water projects bill they co-sponsored that year, the General Assembly established this new statewide non-profit water education organization “to promote a better understanding of water issues through educational opportunities and resources so Colorado citizens will understand water as a limited resource and will make informed decisions.”

Chairs of the House and Senate water and agriculture committees respectively, Hoppe and Entz served on the Foundation’s first Board of Trustees, Hoppe as President.  As the drought deepened into 2003, so did the need to communicate personally with Coloradans about the realities of water use and conservation in a water scarce land.

Together with the other members of the original Board under the leadership of Executive Director Karla Brown, they spurred development of the River Basin Tours, the Water Leaders’ Program, the Citizen’s Guide series to essential water topics and Headwaters magazine, a periodical featuring on the ground stories of water use and conservation.  In the magazine’s inaugural Fall 2003 edition, Hoppe wrote:

"In this issue we recount the 2002 drought—its severity and what it says about our vulnerability to future droughts  . . . growth, legal developments, drought, floods and the use of water in the everyday lives of Coloradans are some of the very public and personal themes we will explore in every issue."

-by Justice Greg Hobbs

Read more about Representative Diane Hoppe and Senator Lewis Entz.


Nolan Doesken, 2011 President's Award Winner

Nolan Doesken, CFWE's 2011 President's Award winner.Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s State Climatologist, proclaims the weather like a prophet the scriptures or the farmer a rain cloud. As an outstanding water educator, Nolan travels throughout Colorado, showing how its climate shapes our great land, wildlife and people. The Climate Center that Nolan heads at Colorado State University is responsible for monitoring and tracking climatic conditions
throughout the state. The agricultural, municipal and recreational economies depend upon the careful conservation and use of our state’s often scare water supply.

Read more about Nolan and his great work...

Congratulations to State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, receiving the President’s Award and Hannah Holm of Mesa County Water Association, receiving the Emerging Leader Award.
Thank you to our sponsors for the evening...

Russ George, 2010 President's Award Winner

Water and its use have been part of Russell George’s life from the time he was spreading it on fields on the 4th-generation family farmstead near Rifle, where his father Walter George served as president of the local ditch company. His interest in irrigated farming led Russ to consider a career in agricultural sciences, but “when it became obvious I wasn’t cut out for science,” he set his sights on a law degree, which he completed at Harvard Law School in 1971. “At that time,” he observes, “there were no programs focusing on water law.” One became a water lawyer by just jumping into it, and he sought help from some of the best – legendary Frank Delaney and “Blue” Balcomb. Russ married Neal Ellen Moore after law school and they returned to Rifle where Neal began a teaching career, Russ opened a general law practice with a preference for water cases and they began raising four sons.

In 1992 he entered politics, and was elected to the Colorado General Assembly. Russ is very much a “Jeffersonian Republican” with a conviction that government works best at the local and state levels where “it has more meaning for people.” His dedication led his peers to name him “Legislator of the Year” twice, and in 1999 he became Speaker of the House. In 2000, Governor Owens asked him to direct the Division of Wildlife and after four years there, he became the director of the Department of Natural Resources – home of nearly every state agency associated with water.

At DNR, his commitments to fair water allocation and well-coordinated good governance came together in his advocacy for the 2005 “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act.” Concerned about the litigation over stalled water projects – Two Forks, Homestake II, Union Park – he began to pose the idea at meetings around the state of a statewide negotiating process. “Roundtables” in each of the states’ eight river basins (and a ninth for the “metropolitan sink”) would be charged with completing needs assessments to meet future water demands, and an “Interbasin Compact Committee” made up of roundtable representatives and agency appointees would seek mutually beneficial ways to move water between basins.

Russ gives a lot of credit for this legislation to West Slope attorney Peter Nichols and Governor Owens, and legislators like Josh Penry and Jim Isgar who shepherded its passage, but there is general agreement in the water community that his reputation for fair governance gave this “evolutionary act” the impetus to pass the Assembly on the first try. Now in its fifth year, the IBCC has still not been really “tested”, but there is growing agreement that the basin roundtables are a resounding success.

Today, Russ has moved to the directorship of the Department of Transportation, where he says he is trying to develop some of the same kind of open collaborative structure. But his greatest legacy to the state may well be the new public processes for addressing the complex challenges of future water supplies in this “land where life is written in water.”

 - Biography by George Sibley