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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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.
Congratulations to Jim Carr and Kyle Mustard for being re-elected to serve another three year term beginning Jan 1, 2023 on the Highland SWCD Board of Supervisors. Special thanks for Andrew Davis for also running in this years election. An SWCD Supervisor or candidate is a respected conservation leader that represents Highland County residents in charting the course for soil and water conservation and natural resources management.
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.
Nathan Burns was hired this spring as the District Resource Specialist for the Highland SWCD. He is a 2019 graduate from Lynchburg-Clay High School, and a 2022 graduate from the University of Rio Grande, where he has earned a bachelors degree in Environmental Science. Before collage ended, he spent the summer of 2021 interning with the Highland NRCS where he worked with them as well as worked with the Highland SWCD surveying and laying out waterways. He was hired right out of college. In his free time, he likes to work on his family farm, as well as spending time outdoors kayaking, fishing, and hunting. He was drawn to SWCD because of his farming background and his interest in helping to creating a more productive and suitable farmland for farmers throughout the district. He is excited to apply his skills to help create a heathier and more productive crop land for the county.
Congratulations to District Technician Chuck Williams and Supervisor Jim Carr for their 20 years of service! They were both recently recognized for their dedicated service to the Highland SWCD during the Ohio Federation Partnership Meeting held in Columbus.
AREA 5 SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR
A special presentation was held during the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD) Area 5 Winter meeting on December 1, 2021 to honor Board member Larry Shannon as the Supervisor of the Year as he prepares to retire from his duties at the end of 2021. In 1995 Larry began his conservation crusade by becoming a Supervisor on the Highland SWCD Board among fellow Board members; Craig Adams, Tom Pulse, Paul Cockerill, and Bob Garmin. He quickly stepped into the executive role serving as the vice-chairman for 16 years and he has spent the last 7 years of his career by being the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, which added an element of respect and guidance to his plate. Larry has served 27 years on the Board and has devoted much of his time and knowledge to support the SWCD programs. Even though his leadership will be missed, the Supervisors and Staff would like to thank Larry for his outstanding tenure on the Board.
Spring Clean-up for Earth Day
April 22 marked the annual celebration of Earth Day. The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) partnered with other communities in the East Fork Little Miami River Watershed and organized a stream clean-up in Lynchburg on April 23, 2022, in recognition of Earth Day. Volunteers from the local Boy Scout Troop #120 rallied together to do their part to collect litter and keep it from polluting their local streams. It was encouraging to see everyone do their part to raise environmental awareness. Earth Day is a great opportunity to do something positive for the environment but it’s even better to keep it going year-round, so let’s make everyday Earth Day!
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.
Lynchburg-Clay Envirothon Team Honored at Annual Meeting
The Lynchburg-Clay Gold Envirothon team competed at the Ohio Envirothon at Lake Erie College in June. The two-day competition tested the knowledge of the students on aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and an oral presentation on a current environmental topic. Since the Lynchburg-Clay team placed third overall in the Ohio Envriothon and received 1st place with their oral presentation, the Highland SWCD presented each member with a commemorative key chain for their outstanding accomplishments during the annual meeting on Oct 13. Pictured; L-R - Highland SWCD Board member Jeff Roehm, Coach Lara Hamilton, Sam Hamilton, Sydney Hamilton, and Addisyn Downing. Other team members include; Bridget Wilkin, and Matthew Gossett.
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.
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:
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.