Cora Jane Spiller, the wife of Col. Robert Spiller of Oakland, is receiving the Dr. Dero Downing Environmental Stewardship Award because she has set an example to others in the community, using her time and person finances to help educate and further a positive effect her natural surroundings.
Mrs. Spiller has purchased more than 5,000 trees over the years from the Kentucky Division of Forestry at the rate of 500 a year. She takes 250 each year to the Oakland Elementary School, along with information for the planting of the trees and facts about their history and growth. These trees are given to the students to take home and plant. The Woman’s Club of Smiths Grove distributes the other 250 trees throughout the area. The project began in 2000, when Mrs. Spiller found that Red Oak and Redbud trees had been used for the firewood in a slave cabin on her farm – She wanted to bring these back to the area. She has distributed 1,000 seedlings of each of these trees and 3,000 other native Kentucky trees.
Mrs. Spiller’s nomination was one of two selected by reviewed by the awards committee. Mr. Fred Alcott also was nominated for the award.
Alcott served as the USDA District Soil Conservationist in Warren County for more than 25 years. He worked with local farmers to conserve soil and maintain water quality for crop land and livestock operations. After retirement, he continues to assist people and has been involved in assisting farmers in foreign countries as a mission effort.
The Dr. Dero Downing Environmental Stewardship Award was named for former Western Kentucky University President Dero Goodman Downing, who made it a point to demonstrate care for his surroundings, sharing the importance of such actions with students, faculty and all he met.
The award is presented annually by the County through its Divisions of Stormwater Management and Environmental Planning & Assistance.