2018 Rod Nilsestuen Award for Working Lands Preservation: Jimmy VandenBrook

An older white man in a suit with light blue shirt and tie.

During his 35-year career, Jim (Jimmy) VandenBrook continually worked to find solutions to conserve our valuable land and water resources. His dedicated focus brought people together and fostered dialogue as they searched for answers to some of the most challenging issues facing agricultural and natural resources in Wisconsin.

Working for 26 years at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in the Agricultural Resource Management division, Jimmy was essential to the development and implementation of several policy initiatives.

“[Jim] displayed great knowledge of the subject matter and his communications skills helped advance the initiatives with the wide array of interested parties,” said supporter Tom Lyon. “While steadfast in his beliefs about how to preserve Wisconsin’s land and water, he presented the issues in a way that brought people together.”

After retirement from DATCP, Jimmy didn’t stop pursuing his passion. He became the Executive Director of Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association until May 2018, where he brought together agricultural, business, government, community, environmental, and academic leaders for a two-year, in-depth, collaborative study called The Food, Land and Water Project. The findings of the study along with a report detailing action steps for the future were presented at a statewide conference in October 2017.

Thank you, Jimmy, for dedicating your career to conserving Wisconsin’s valuable land and water resources! Gathering Waters is proud to present Jimmy with the 2018 Rod Nilsestuen Working Lands Preservation Award in honor of his decades of dedication to protecting working lands.