TORRINGTON – Denise Lucero of Torrington has won the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Science Cooperator Award.
Lucero, 60, is the administration and education coordinator for the North Platte Valley, South Goshen, and Lingle-Ft. Laramie conservation districts - three of the 34 such districts in Wyoming.
The mission of the conservation districts is to lead in the conservation of soil and water resources, which includes controlling soil erosion and promoting water quality and wise use.
“This was a surprise,” Lucero said. “I still don’t really know why they even picked me.”
A letter from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture congratulating Lucero for the award cited her research about which combination of laboratory tests would best suit Goshen County residents’ water needs. Lucero also coordinated the collection of samples - which included labeling, packaging and delivery.
“You are willing to go the extra mile,” the letter read, “to make the residents of your districts get the information and help they need to get their water tested and understand the results.”
Lucero said part of her job is to assist with annual water testing on domestic wells. The tests include analysis of sodium, potassium, carbonate, fluoride and total alkalinity, among other measures.
“Water is life,” she said. “I think every single day when I’m here what an honor it is to be able to work with these amazing people just to do the little things that I do every day.”
Lucero accepted the award at the Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo on Aug. 16.
The Science Cooperator Award goes to an individual who works with the Analytical Services Laboratory in Laramie. The lab has Environmental Protection Agency certification to test drinking water. Laboratory staff nominated Lucero for the award.
Lucero said she worked for 16 years at a biological lab in Montana.
“Knowing about water, the bacteria, the biological parts of water, it’s code in me somehow,” she said.
Lucero stressed that despite the award going to her, the accomplishments of the conservation district are a group effort.
“To me, this job isn’t that you can come here every day and just do the menial things. You have to think a little outside the box,” she said. “There are so many people that are so inspiring to me. I feel like it’s a dream-come-true sort of job.”