The Carson Valley Conservationist of the Year award has been renamed in memory of John "Johnny" Indiano, longtime Carson Valley rancher.
The new John Indiano Service Award was announced at the Carson Valley Conservation District annual meeting earlier this month at the J.T. Basque Restaurant in Gardnerville.
Indiano, who died in July, was posthumously named the 2002 Conservationist of the Year. His wife of nearly 50 years, Barbara, received the award on his behalf at the meeting.
"He did so much for the community and in the realm of conservation, it seemed only fitting," said James Settelmeyer, district chairman.
"Anybody who contributes 40 years to community service without pay deserves it."
Indiano was more than a rancher. He kept Carson Valley's ditches running for decades and was a teacher to generations of Carson Valley boys and girls in the 4-H Club. He provided lambs for 4-H Club projects.
Indiano died July 20 of congestive heart failure. He was 81. His widow said it is "overwhelming" to learn the award was renamed to honor her husband.
"We are so deeply touched and honored," she said. "He had such a love for the land and animals.
"Through the years he did everything he could to keep (the land) vital and producing," she said. "He was always trying new things to better the yield."
He would be surprised by the award, she said.
"He would be just as overwhelmed as we are," she said. "It is something he never would have expected.
"He was a humble man and wasn't looking for any recognition."
Indiano was born in 1920 to Basque immigrants. His father worked as a shepherd and his mother was a maid.
Shortly after moving to Carson Valley, Indiano graduated from Douglas County High School, where he was an athlete and member of the Future Farmers of America and Block D.
He worked on valley ranches including the Heybourne Ranch, the Hollister property until it sold for the Genoa Lakes Golf Course, the ranch where Willow Bend now sits and the Schneider Ranch in Jacks Valley.
Indiano served as equipment manager as well as on its board of directors. the organization named him Conservationist of the Year in 1965 and 1997.
He was inducted into the state Farm Bureau Hall of Fame in 1996. Indiano served on the conservation district's board of directors until May, when he resigned for health reasons.
"He was just a wonderful man," said Settelmeyer. "The district and the Valley was truly lucky to have him."
Since 1958, the conservationist award has been given to members in the Carson Valley, who showed outstanding progress in the areas of water and soil conservation.