Jason Boeckmann of Boeckmann Farms took home top honors at the 2021 Annual Meeting by being named the 2021 Cooperator of the year by the Highland SWCD supervisors and staff. Boeckmann was selected due to his devotion to agricultural and the determination to improve soil health and water quality throughout his farming operation. He has worked diligently with local landowners to install much needed conservation practices on their farms. Boeckmann is a well-respected leader in the agricultural industry and serves as an example of how to incorporate best management practices that will protect our natural resources.
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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.
SAVE THE DATE!
Mark your calendars for the 8th Annual Highland County Farm Tour to be held on September 17, 2022. This years event will showcase local farms and allow a hands on experience for those in attendance.
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!
Highland SWCD’s 79th Annual Meeting Held
The 79th Annual Meeting of the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was held on October 13th at the Back Room Paradise. During the meeting several awards were presented, including land judging, envirothon, and conservation poster contest winners recognized. Jason Boeckmann took home top honors at this years’ Annual Meeting by being named the 2021 Cooperator of the year by the Highland SWCD supervisors and staff. Boeckmann was selected due to his devotion to agricultural and the determination to improve soil health and water quality throughout his farming operation.
The election of Supervisors for the Board of the Highland Soil & Water Conservation District was also held during the 79th Annual Meeting. There were two candidates running this year for one available position serving a three-year term beginning January 2022. The candidates on the ballot were Alan Blackburn and Chris Cox. When the election results were tallied Chris Cox was elected to serve on the Highland SWCD Board of Supervisors with fellow members, Kyle Mustard, Jim Carr, Dan Chambers, and Jeff Roehm.
A special presentation was held during the meeting to honor Board member Larry Shannon as he prepares to retire from his duties as a Supervisor at the end of 2021. 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.
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.
Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award - White Clover Farms
Jim and Sheryl Linne own White Clover Farms in Hillsboro, Ohio and was recently awarded the Farm Family Award for Area 5 in Ohio during the Farm Science Review. They have two daughters Courtney and Caroline. White Clover Farm is 300 acres of pasture, woodland and hay. They converted conventional farmland into a 100% grass-fed beef operation. The operation uses holistic management to ensure improvement to the soils, and uses prescribed grazing to maximize the pasture’s potential. Jim partners with the Highland SWCD for grazing schools and farm tours, in which his land is used as an example of good conservation. Jim was named Highland County SWCD Cooperator of the Year in 2016. Jim and his family strongly believe in protecting natural resources and Ohio’s farmland. In 2019 the family worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Cardinal Land Conservancy to enroll the entire farm in the Agricultural Easement Program. Over the years Jim has established numerous conservation practices including exclusion fencing to protect the farms woodlands, livestock watering facilities and access roads to improve water quality and grazing management and critical area seedings to prevent soil erosion. As a retired physician and now full-time farmer, Jim has applied his time and knowledge to improving soil health on the farm to make it sustainable for future generations.
Public Input Needed - Complete a Short Survey
Annual and strategic long range planning are key elements of good board governance and is the cornerstone of organizational success for the Highland SWCD, therefore we are asking for public input via a short survey. Once all the concerns are gathered from the public, they will be streamlined to provide a consistent approach to the implementation of conservation programs in the current Farm Bill and provide viable input needed to create the Highland SWCD 5-year Long Range Strategic Plan. The SWCD has compiled a list of 6 critical natural resource concerns that outlines the areas to be addressed. From the identified concerns, we ask you to pick your highest ones to help us prioritize which of these issues require our immediate attention and the ones that are less urgent at this time. We ask you please fill out the short survey below and click submit to provide your valued input.
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.
2021 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 27-28 at the farm of Larry Shannon and Evan West 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; Amanda Lovedahl representing Farm Credit Mid-America.
Braden Wright as the top individual in the Urban category,
Cade Sponcil as the top individual in the Ag category, and District Technician Chuck Williams.
2021 HIGHLAND COUNTY FARM GREAT SUCCESS!
The 7th Annual Highland County Farm Tour took place on Sept. 18, 2021. The farm tour was a result of a collaborative effort between Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District. Over 110 people attended the event in the Highland area.
The tour featured beautiful, diverse farms and provided beneficial information on local sustainable agriculture. The tour consisted of stops at the following locations: Ken and Christa Davis Farm; featuring a drone spraying and seeding demonstration by Midwest Air; Wayne and Debbie Lewis Farm; which offered a unique up close look at a working dry fire hydrant and the opportunity see first-hand how army worms can affect your farming operation; Elms Farm; offered a hands-on experience of the value of using ultrasound in your cattle herd and in-field demonstrations of the benefits of incorporating conservation practices in pastureland.
In addition to learning about these unique farms, participants also enjoyed a catered lunch during the Highland County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting that was served by the Fairfield FFA. The Highland County Farm Bureau and Highland Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank The Nationwide, Barton-Bickle Group of Hillsboro for sponsoring the meal, to help ensure the event was a great success.
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:
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Brown, Clermont, Clinton and Highland counties rolled out the new Southwest Ohio Agricultural Conservation Menu (SOACM) website recently. The SOACM website was created to be a one-stop clearinghouse for all agriculture resource programs and will provide information needed to choose the right Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that will enhance your farming operation. Visit www.soacm.com for more details.
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.