Rick, Kyle and Brett Kisling of Diven Springs Farm took home top honors at the 2022 Annual Meeting by being named the 2022 Cooperator of the year by the Highland SWCD supervisors and staff. The Kisling's were selected due to their devotion to agricultural and the determination to improve soil health and water quality throughout their pastureland operation. They have worked diligently to install much needed conservation practices on their farms and are well-respected leaders in the agricultural industry. Diven Springs Farm serves as an example of how to incorporate best management practices that will protect our natural resources.
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The Highland SWCD had the pleasure of having Katie Cook, a sophomore from Greenfield McClain High School, job shadow the USDA Service Center on May 8, 2023. Katie's interest in soils led her to seek out the District as a possible career path. We wish her the very best in her future endeavors!
Earth Day - Lake Cleanup The Highland SWCD had a wonderful Earth Day partnering with Rocky Fork State Park and the Highland Harvesters 4-H Club! The group did their part to clean up the area by picking up trash along the lake edges. A special thanks to Park Naturalist Joshua Pennington, for spending the morning with us!
Congratulations to District Operations Manager for receiving her 20 year service award at the OFSWCD Annual Partnership Meeting held in Columbus on Feb 21, 2023. Thanks Pam for your many years of service and dedication to the Highland SWCD.
Ag Outlook Event
On February 3, 2023 the Highland County Extension and the Workforce Development and Community Services Division of Southern State Community College partnered together to host the 2023 Agriculture Outlook Meeting: Planted with a Purpose. During this free educational opportunity, participants learned about the carbon credit programs, grazing management plans, and they heard from local USDA and Soil and Water Conservation District personnel about upcoming programs available in the year. The event was well attended and may become an annual event in the future.
Highland SWCD's 80th Anniversary!
Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan presented the SWCD Supervisors and Staff with a proclamation in celebration of the District being the first SWCD organized in the state of Ohio 80 years ago, therefore, declaring Oct. 13, 2022 Soil and Water Conservation Day.
Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award - Brown Farms
Nathan and Jennifer Brown of Brown Farms in Hillsboro, Ohio and was recently selected as the Farm Family Award for Area 5 in Ohio. They have three children Coy, Luke and Ella. The Highland SWCD nominated Brown Farms for the Farm Family Award due to their outstanding on-going conservation efforts to enhance their operation. The Brown’s farm 1200 acres of primarily corn, soybeans, and hay using no-till, cover crops, waterways, and crop rotation. Their operation also includes a 50 head cow/calf herd that includes rotational grazing and other pastureland management practices. The Brown’s have partnered with the Highland SWCD for multiple field days and educational tours, in which their land was used as an example of effective best management practices. Brown Farms is an inspirational part of conservation in the County and was named Highland SWCD Cooperator of the Year in 2019. Nathan and his family strive to improve soil health throughout their operation to ensure the land will be left in better condition for the next generation. Nathan and Jennifer was awarded the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award on Sept. 22, during the Farm Science Review.
8th Highland Co. Farm Tour a Great Success
The 8th Annual Highland County Farm Tour took place on Sept. 17, 2022. The farm tour was a result of a collaborative effort between Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District. The event was greatly attended in the Berrysville area.
The tour featured beautiful, diverse farms and provided beneficial information on local sustainable agriculture. The first tour stop was Maplecrest Farms; featuring presentations on beef production strategies, management of annual forages and pastureland and profitable farm diversification into the retail meat market by John and Joanie Grimes. The second stop featured Dead Broke Farm, which offered a unique up-close look at the benefits of incorporating conservation practices in pastureland, a program on managing black vultures, farm pond solutions and a cutting horse training demonstration.
In addition to touring these beautiful farms, participants also enjoyed a delicious catered lunch provided by the Highland County Farm Bureau that was served by Maplecrest Meats and More. The Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank Rural King of Hillsboro for providing bottled water, and everyone else that helped to ensure the event was a great success.
Ag Producers Can Help Protect Water Quality in Three East Fork Little Miami River Basin Watersheds Through USDA’s National Water Quality Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers an opportunity for agricultural producers in three Ohio watersheds in the East Fork Little Miami River Basin to apply for assistance installing conservation practices that protect water quality through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).
NRCS conservation professionals will provide one-on-one personalized advice to help farmers determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to address a broad range of natural resource concerns, including water quality. All applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis. Applications that provide the greatest environmental benefit will be selected for funding and NRCS will provide financial assistance to selected applicants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Conservation actions include practices that promote soil health, reduce erosion, and lessen nutrient runoff, such as cover crops, reduced tillage, and nutrient management; waste management systems that treat agricultural waste and livestock manure; and wetland restoration that increases wildlife habitat, mitigates flooding, and improves water quality. These practices not only benefit natural resources but enhance agricultural productivity and profitability by improving soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.
“Farmers recognize the importance of water quality,” said State Conservationist for Ohio Terry Cosby. “These voluntary initiatives provide them with the tools to implement and accelerate on-farm conservation practices to improve the watershed. Local partnerships, like the one that Ohio NRCS has fostered with the area SWCDs, are invaluable in getting farmers the resources they need to deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.”
The three watersheds within Ohio’s East Fork Little Miami River Basin where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to address resource concerns and improve water quality include:
The Highland Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors will be holding their regular monthly Board meeting on Thursday, June 8, 2023 instead of the regular scheduled second Wednesday of the month. The Board meeting will be held at the USDA Service Center located at 514 Harry Sauner Rd. Hillsboro and is open to the public.
2nd Place Lynchburg-Clay Gold Team: Lara Hamilton, Advisor, Kelsey McPherson, Abigail Shepherd, Sydney Hamilton, & Abbigail Manning
Local HS Students Compete in Area Envirothon
The Area 5 Soil and Water Conservation Districts held their Annual Envirothon on April 25, 2023, at Lake Hope State Park in New Plymouth, Ohio. The competition is designed to stimulate, reinforce and enhance interest in the environment and natural resources among high school students.
Each student on an Envirothon team is challenged to test their knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues. The following schools proudly represented Highland County by participating in this year’s contest; Lynchburg Clay High School coached by Lara Hamilton, Hillsboro FFA coached by Libby McNeal and McClain FFA coached by Mike Sykes.
A total of 43 teams took place in the Area Envirothon. The Lynchburg Clay Gold team won second in the competition and the McClain FFA team placed fifth, making both teams eligible to compete in the State contest to be held on June 11-13 at Defiance College.
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2023 Officers Elected
The Highland SWCD Board of Supervisors elected officer at the Jan 11 Board Meeting; (L-R) Jeff Roehm, Vice-Chairman, Jim Carr, Fiscal Agent, Kyle Mustard, Chairman, Dan Chambers & Chris Cox Members
The SWCD Board will hold their regular monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month in 2023. The meetings will be held at 8 am in the Service Center located at 514 Harry Sauner Rd. in Hillsboro and are open to the public.
2023 Highland County Farm Tour
The Highland SWCD and the Highland County Farm Bureau are excited to announce that plans for the 9th Annual Highland County Farm Tour are underway! Please mark your calendars for the date of September 16, 2023 for this years Tour! This event will showcase farms in the community and allow people the opportunity to learn first hand by visiting their facilities. Once the event is finalized, we will post information on the farm stops on the SWCD and Farm Bureau websites. Visit www.highlandswcd.com or www.ofbf.org/counties/highland periodically for more details.
2022 County Soils Winners Every year the Highland SWCD holds a soil judging competition for the five county school FFA Chapters. The competition allows the students to evaluate soil pits to determine soil properties, limitations, recommended conservation practices, and appropriate land uses for either an urban or rural setting. Students also had to complete two written test. One consisted of questions on a packet given to them from the Web Soil Survey and the other tests general knowledge of soils. In the Ag soil judging contest, students evaluate the soil based on its suitability for agriculture, forestry, pasture and wildlife uses. In the urban soil judging contest, students determine the soil’s ability to be used for roads, lawns, gardens and landscaping, home building sites and septic systems. This year the competition was held September 15 at Elm's Farm. Evan Davis graciously volunteered his time and equipment to dig the soil pits for the competition. The County winners received a plaque that was donated by Farm Credit Mid-America. Pictured above;
Hunter Miller as the top individual in the Urban category,
Cade Sponcil as the top individual in the Ag category, and Amanda Lovedahl representing Farm Credit Mid-America.
Rocky Fork Funding Awarded
Lead Partner, Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded funding for the Rocky Fork Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which is one of three projects awarded in the state. The RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. With the help of various partners including Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Parks and Watercraft & Division of Wildlife, City of Hillsboro-Drinking Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant, and US Fish and Wildlife Service the project will protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed.
The Rocky Fork Watershed drains approximately 92,350 acres of land, with 46,650 acres of cropland that directly outlets into the Rocky Fork Lake, thus making it a highly sensitive area. The primary objectives of the RCPP is to protect water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion to alleviate algal blooms n the Rocky Fork Watershed region. The project will be carried out over the next five years with water monitoring being conducted through the life of the project to document trends and conditions. With sediment being the biggest challenge for Rocky Fork Lake, partnering with the ODNR Parks and Watercraft dredging operation, will maximize the benefits of reducing sediment from reaching the lake.
This innovative project will implement a series of agricultural best management practices that will have an enormous positive effect on the economic and social development of the Rocky Fork Watershed, as well as, protect the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water supply and provide prescribed habitat for Ohio’s diminished Bobwhite Quail population and other at-risk species. Project goals for conservation practices include the installation cover crops, nutrient management, grassed waterways, and certain prescribed wildlife management practices that improve habitat for targeted species.
If you are in the Rocky Fork Watershed and would like more information on the program you may contact the NRCS/SWCD office at 937-393-1922 ext 3.
All Highland Soil and Water Conservation District programs and services are offered on a non-discriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.