Mary Kniffen was recognized as the Conservation Teacher of the Year at the annual convention of SWCD Directors held in October 2018 at the Omni Hotel in Ft. Worth.  Helping Mary celebrate her award are, left to right:  Lisa Brown, Menard County AgriLife Extension Agent; Louise Jennings, wife of Director Jennings; Chris Casaday, NRCS District Conservationist/Menard Field Office;  J. W. Jennings, Menard County SWCD Vice Chairman; Mary Kniffen; husband Billy Kniffen, MCSWCD Director; Charlotte Albrecht, MCSWCD Business Manager; Kendria Ray, Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board Area II Field Rep.

2018 Texas Conservation Teacher of the Year

Mary Kniffen

In recognition of her years of excellence in teaching local students and her continuing commitment to conservation, Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District #215 recognized local educator Mary Kniffen as Menard's 2018 Teacher of the Year.  Kniffen was then awarded the top teacher spot in the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board's Area II region, comprised of 52 SWCDs. 

Her outstanding achievements earned her the ultimate statewide title of 2018 Texas Conservation Teacher of the Year.  In October 2018, friends, family and co-workers travelled to Ft. Worth to support Kniffen as she accepted her award at TSSWCB's 78th Annual State Meeting held at the Omni Hotel.  

Kniffen actively works with local 4-H members and Jr. Master Gardeners to teach them the importance of ethics, leadership, responsibility, conservation, community and the outdoors.


She works with local schools to encourage cross curriculum involving gardening and school subjects such as math and science.


In 2005, Kniffen started Jr. Master Gardeners in Menard County. The group went on to win Texas Group of the Year, National Jr. Master Gardeners Service Achievement Award and Small Group of the Year. She was recognized with the Marva Ebeck Jr. Master Gardeners Leader of the Year Award in 2010.


Three years ago she added the Morning Glory Seedlings which allows students from kindergarten to third grade to participate in Jr. Master Gardeners. Kniffen continues to be a leader in teaching our future generations the importance of conservation and stewardship.

The annual Texas Conservation Awards Program is sponsored by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and the Association of Texas SWCDs (ATSWCD).  Texas' 216 SWCDs are encouraged to participate in the program, which recognizes conservationists in a variety of categories, "to acknowledge, recognize and honor those who dedicate themselves and their talents to the conservation and wise use of our renewable natural resources".    

Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District #215   P O Box 665  Menard, TX 76859  325-396-4708

Office location:  106 Bevans St., Menard, TX 76859