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.

2021:  Ed Fike 

Ed Fite served as the Administrator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) from September 1983 to June 30, 2016. After almost 33 years, members of the 2nd Session of the 55th Oklahoma State Legislature (May 2016) enacted a new law that consolidated the OSRC into the Grand River Dam Authority on July 1, 2016.  In his new role, Ed continues to pursue his passion for rivers and water as GRDA’s Vice-President for Rivers Operations and Water Quality.

He has served in the past as member of the National Association of State and Local River Managers Association and the River Federation.  He was also the only state representative appointed to the federal Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council, serving from 1995-2005 and was a board member of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board from 2005-2017. In addition to his daytime job, Ed serves as President of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, President of the Midwest Chapter-River Management Society, as Vice-Chairman of the Cherokee Nation Environmental Protection Commission, as Vice-Chairman of the Solid Waste Research Institute of Northeast Oklahoma and as board member of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and Save the Illinois River, Inc.

Ed regularly partners with federal/state/tribal/local agencies, communities, businesses and individuals to educate, promote the enjoyment, and mitigate impacts on these rivers and reservoirs. Ed was a key player and technical resource in successful defense of water quality and scenic rivers in the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Oklahoma vs. Arkansas/USEPA Case which effectively affirmed that downstream states’ water quality standards must be maintained and protected by upstream states.  This ruling provided the momentum needed to improve water quality in the Illinois River and subsequently allowed for the growth and economic development of northeast Oklahoma. 

In 2004, Ed was bestowed the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, the Cherokee Nation recognized him with their Cherokee National Statesmanship Award.  In 2016, he received the River Management Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to River Management. Later that same year, Ed’s commitment to preserve and enhance our state’s rivers/water was further recognized with two additional awards: Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Northeastern State University Alumni Association President’s Award for Community Service.

Ed is a certified swift water rescue technician instructor, federally-accredited floodplain manager.  He’s also member of the Tahlequah First Baptist Church where he serves as an Ordained Deacon and is member of the Tahlequah Kiwanis Club. And, finally, he’s a member of the reputed Illinois River Militia and Garden Club.

Everyone is Ed’s Couzin… and, he’s renowned for advocating to those who will lend an ear,” Please take pause daily to pick up two pieces of trash and properly dispose or recycle the materials… the synergy of our efforts will help preserve and protect our state’s aquatic and terrestrial environments.”


Public Servant Award Winners