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Wisconsin Engineer’s Work Gets Top Recognition

Becoming a nationally recognized federal engineer is an accomplishment that did not happen overnight for John Ramsden. The engineer has devoted several years to protecting surface and groundwater resources while working for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

During his 18 years as the Wisconsin State Engineer, Ramsden has led a number of federal engineering efforts for water quality, watershed and flood protection, dam safety, and wetland and floodplain restoration.

Among Ramsden’s many accomplishments is his response to historic floods in southern Wisconsin in fall 2007 and spring 2008. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but stream corridors, farmland and wildlife habitat suffered extensive damage.

During both floods, Ramsden led the NRCS response effort by coordinating teams and managing dam repairs. These repairs were vital because dams help ensure that farms and communities are protected against floods.

Although Ramsden is credited for his leadership during the flood response, the bulk of his career has been dedicated to protecting water quality. Over the last two decades, Ramsden has worked diligently to help animal feed operations meet water quality regulations. He has been a champion of new technology such as digesters, manure separators, bedding recovery and manure treatment systems to help protect Wisconsin’s waterways from agricultural waste.

So, even though it may have come as a surprise to him, it was clear to others that Ramsden had earned recognition as the 2012 NRCS Federal Engineer of the Year. Wisconsin’s State Conservationist, Pat Leavenworth nominated Ramsden for the honor. A panel of peers selected Ramsden from among several other nominated NRCS engineers.

The NRCS Federal Engineer of the Year goes on each year to compete for the top prize: the National Federal Engineer Award. The award is sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Professional Engineers in Government Practice Division.

The final group consisted of 29 federal engineers selected from 93,000 nominations from various agencies around the U.S. Each engineer was evaluated based on factors such as education, humanitarian work and professional achievements.

Ramsden gives credit to mentors and co-workers who have helped him along the way. “What I have achieved is a result of working with others who’ve taught me and given me the opportunity to grow as an engineer,” he says.

John Ramsden (right) stands with NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist Pat Leavenworth at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on February 23, 2012.

John Ramsden (right) stands with NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist Pat Leavenworth at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on February 23, 2012.

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