The AWRA-Colorado Section scholarships are given in memory of Rich Herbert, a former member of the Colorado Section and the National AWRA board of directors. Rich had a great interest in water-resources education and was instrumental in establishing the Colorado Section scholarship fund.
Rich began his career in hydrology in 1976 with the Bureau of Land Management in Denver, and became State Hydrologist two years later. In 1980, he transferred to the Colorado District of the U.S Geological Survey. He moved to the Louisiana District office in 1982, and while there, became active in AWRA. He was President of the Louisiana Section during 1983-84 and was elected to the National AWRA board as West-South-Central Director in 1985.
Returning to Colorado, Rich continued on the national board as Mountain District Director from 1986 to 1988. He served on many committees, including the Conference Planning Committee, which he chaired in 1988, and the Education Committee, which he chaired in 1989. In recognition of his contributions to AWRA, Rich was given the President’s Award for Outstanding Service in 1989. He also received the Icko Iben Award for promotion of communication among water-resource disciplines in 1991.
Of his many accomplishments, Rich was most proud of his role in developing the Water-Resources Education Initiative. He had long been concerned about the lack of interest in water science and the lack of awareness about water-resources issues among secondary and elementary students. In 1989, he instigated a joint AWRA/USGS program to promote water-resources education at these levels and to help teachers develop appropriate and interesting curricula. Within five years the Education Initiative had expanded to include four more federal agencies, including the U.S. EPA and the Corps of Engineers, as well as the National Science Teachers Association. The products of the Education Initiative continue to be widely used and highly regarded.
As a member of the committee planning the AWRA national meeting in Denver in 1990, Rich convinced the national board to contribute part of the proceeds of an auction to the Colorado District to establish a scholarship fund. Awards from this fund were made available to undergraduate and graduate students at Colorado Universities and Colleges who were pursuing research in any aspect of water resources. The first award from this fund was made in 1991.
Rich left Colorado to become Chief of the USGS Kansas District in 1992. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1993, and died 8 months later, in March 1994. At the Colorado District annual meeting, just days after his death, the membership and directors voted to dedicate what had by then become an annual award as the Rich Herbert Memorial Scholarship, in honor of his inspiration and essential contribution.