In 2014, EFO began its Public Servant Award to recognize an individual embodying the traits and attributes of the consummate public servant, i.e., an individual who routinely goes above and beyond his or her job description in providing service to the regulated community in general and EFO members in particular.  In 2016, the award was renamed the James R. Barnett Public Servant Award to honor EFO’s founding President in recognition of his outstanding leadership and protecting natural resources.  He exhibited the attributes of a true public servant and advocate for comprehensive and insightful management of these resources.  

A public servant’s qualifying actions for the award can be in the nature of a career of excellent service or for a single meaningful act, or any combination of the two.  Local, state and federal government employees, officers, and elected officials are eligible for the award.  Nominations must be made by an EFO member, be in writing and provide a detailed statement as to the basis of the nomination, including example(s) of the nominee’s actions warranting the award.  EFO’s Chairman appoints an Awards Committee charged with recommending one or more individuals to the Board for recognition at each year’s annual meeting.

2018 Winner:  Derek Smithee

Derek was with the OWRB over 30 years and lead the OWRB’s Water Quality Programs Division since 1995. In that role, he has managed the promulgation of Oklahoma’s Water Quality Standards and Standards Implementation rules, lake monitoring work including diagnostic and feasibility studies as well as restorations, and much of Oklahoma’s surface and groundwater monitoring programs.

Derek served on numerous state and federal water policy workgroups including the National USDA/EPA Nutrient Criteria Advisory Committee, EPA’s National Large Rivers Workgroup, Bacteria/Recreation Workgroup, Oklahoma’s Water Quality Monitoring Council, Oklahoma’s 303(d)/305(b) Workgroup, the Oklahoma Department Environmental Quality’s Water Rules Committee, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s CAFO Rules Committee, the WQS Implementation Advisory Committee, and others.

Derek received his B.S. from Oklahoma State University in Zoology in 1983 while playing football for Coach Jimmy Johnson and working at the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. He received his M.S. from the University of Oklahoma in 1987 in Environmental Science. He began work for the Oklahoma State Department of Health in 1984, transferred to the OWRB in 1987 as WQS Coordinator and has been Water Quality Programs Division Chief since 1995.

He has served the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, and the people of the State of Oklahoma with Distinction and Honor.  He was a great friend to EFO.

Public Servant Award Winners