COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Monday, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer honored Bill Richards, a farmer from Circleville, with the 2013 ODNR Hall of Fame award, the department’s highest honor. Zehringer presented the award to Richards at the annual meeting for the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Columbus. 

“Bill Richards has been a champion of using the most innovative science and technology that allows farmers to have productive farming practices that do not harm the environment,” said Zehringer. “As an agricultural and conservation pioneer, he continues to educate others about the importance of soil conservation and preserving resources through natural resource management efforts.”

Throughout his life, Richards has educated farmers around the nation and the world about the importance of managing their land in a productive way while still protecting the environment. For more than 40 years, this no-till farming pioneer and his family have utilized the no-till process on their Circleville farm to improve their crop yields while limiting soil and nutrient runoff.

Richards also served as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service from 1990 to 1993, and his foresight and dedication have helped change the attitudes of farmers across the country about the relationship between successful farming and responsible conservation practices.

“It is the moral duty of the farmer today to use the very best technology available to enhance the farm’s productivity and to protect the environment,” said Richards. “It’s the right thing to do, and I am very humbled that my life’s work has been recognized with this award.”

Richards also received the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame award in 1994, and a few years ago he was awarded with the No-Till Farmer of the Year award.

Other notable recipients of the ODNR Hall of Fame award include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, the legendary Johnny Appleseed, Ohio-born explorer John Wesley Powell, botanist Lucy Braun and farming conservation advocate Bob Evans.

The ODNR Hall of Fame awards program was established in 1966, and it is a top honor for individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving and protecting the state’s water, soil, woodlands, wildlife and mineral resources.