Skip Hyberg Honored With Economist of the Year Award

Karis T. Gutter, deputy undersecretary, FFAS (left), and Joy Harwood, director, Economic Policy Analysis Staff (right), present the Economist of the Year Award to Skip Hyberg.

He is a quantitative and scientific force behind the nation’s largest conservation program.

Armed with two doctoral degrees, Skip Hyberg is an economist and a scientist who has linked both of those worlds together to design and implement the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

For nearly a decade’s worth of work invested into the monitoring, assessment and evaluation of the CRP program, Hyberg was awarded the 2013 USDA Economist of the Year Award.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Hyberg, about his nomination. “I know a lot of very good economists in USDA who have done a lot of good work. It’s great to be nominated with such a distinguished group.”

The award recognizes a USDA economist for excellence in developing, applying or educating about policy to support the USDA mission to provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. The honoree is selected based on contributions in the current calendar year.

Hyberg’s work expands efforts by government, private and non-profit organizations through a data-sharing process he developed to integrate FSA conservation data with soils, hydrologic, climatic, geologic, sociologic and economic data that he and other private and public-sector collaborators analyze.

“What distinguishes Skip’s work is his ability to blend economics with scientific expertise and to translate technical finding to policymakers,” said Joy Harwood, director of the Economic Analysis Policy Staff. “It is a rare and valuable skill that greatly enhances USDA’s ability to best target CRP conservation efforts.”

His work on carbon sequestration influenced the calculation of the Environmental Benefits Index, which is used to assess offers for CRP enrollment, while his work in collaboration with FSA colleagues and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service led to the Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative. Hyberg’s efforts have provided data and information that has enhanced Natural Resources Conservation Service’s conservation effects assessment program and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Integrated Landscape Modeling Program.

“The research that Dr. Hyberg has initiated has produced invaluable results for improving wildlife populations, soil, water and air quality,” said Thomas Franklin, senior director of Science and Policy at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “His actions have helped conceive the very popular and effective Voluntary Public Access Habitat Incentive Program that provided new recreational opportunities on millions of acres of farmland.”

For Hyberg, it’s all in a day’s work.

“I’m fortunate to work with some of the very best,” said Hyberg. “The Economic Analysis Policy Staff is a tremendous group and the best anyone could ask for.”

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