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.

2016: James R. Barnett

Now, on this occasion the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma does hereby express appreciation for James R. Barnett’s many years of service to the citizens of Oklahoma. Through his outstanding leadership and service in preserving and protecting Oklahoma’s natural resources, James R. Barnett has exhibited the attributes of a true public servant and advocate for comprehensive and insightful management of these resources. It is therefore, with immense gratitude and appreciation, that the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma does hereby, on this the 23rd day of February, 2016, commend and honor James R. Barnett as an exemplary Public Servant.

– Kathryn Crenwelge, Chairman Environmental Federation of Oklahoma

2015:  Drew Kershen, University of Oklahoma Professor of Law Emeritus.

This year’s EFO Public Servant Award goes to Drew Kershen, University of Oklahoma Professor of Law Emeritus.

Professor Kershen has served the state of Oklahoma and its people and businesses for over 44 years. He is notably a recognized expert in water law, environmental law, and agricultural law, holding the Earl Sneed Centennial Professorship at OU and having served as the Altheimer Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas.

He received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Agricultural Law Association, and his numerous awards, publications, and positions of public service reflect a lifetime dedication to the constitutional rule of law, students at all levels, and the interests of the public. He has for many years served, and continues to serve, as a consultant to law firms in Oklahoma which have represented the interests of Oklahoma farm families and Oklahoma commerce and industries.

Professor Kershen holds his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame University and law and graduate-law degrees from the University of Texas and Harvard University.


2014 : Jerry L. Barnett – past General Counsel for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board

Jerry L. Barnett – past General Counsel for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board


2013: Steven A. Thompson – past Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality