The LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District held its 61st annual meeting on March 7. The event was held this year at the Carriage House, a reception center near Topeka owned and operated by the Steve Jones family.
The group of around 125 conservation-minded people came from all over LaGrange County. The Jones family provided a meal of salad, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pie to start the evening off. Dinner was followed by a program in which district conservation, grant related and financial operations over the last year were reviewed by board members and staff, conservation awards for 2012 were distributed, and door prizes given out to guests whose names were drawn. Qualified voters were asked to participate in an election for one board member, and R.D. Wolheter was chosen by the group to serve another three year term as SWCD supervisor.
The following individuals were recognized with various conservation awards this year:
Pasture Walk hosts for 2012 included Jim Courtright of Hudson, Floyd Mast of LaGrange, Ernest Miller of LaGrange, Willard Yoder of Topeka, Dan Chupp of Jones, Mich., and Harley Schrock of Topeka.
Daniel Troyer and Andy Green of Midway Farms near Valentine were recognized with LaGrange County’s 2012 River Friendly Farmer Award.
The 2012 County Soil Judging Contest, participated in by Lakeland, Westview, Prairie Heights and Angola high schools, was hosted this year by Gary and Jackie Myers Triangle Farms near Howe. First place went to Prairie Heights Team 1, coached by Ron Noll, consisting of Evan Gunthorp, Joanna Claudy, Joshua Perkins, and Jason Perkins. Second place in the senior division of this contest was won by Westview Team 1, coached by Paul Baker and consisting of Reed Oesch, Parker Fought, Colton Feller and Nelson Grate. Third place was taken by Prairie Heights Team 2, consisting of Tim Carnahan, Nicholas Delancey, Alexandria Claudy and Rene Lewis.
In the Junior Division, Westview Team 1 made up of Marcus Troyer, Roman Miller, Todd Wisler, and Derek Miller took first place, and Westview Team 2, made up of Jared Yoder, Andy Miller, and Mahlon Troyer took second place.
Top scoring individuals were Reed Oesch of Westview for the senior division and Marcus Troyer for the junior division.
A nine-county area contest was also hosted this year by LaGrange County. The contest was held on the farm of Marvin and Rosemary Miller in Milford Township. Westview and Prairie Heights both participated in this area contest.
Other conservation award winners recognized during the evening included Kelsey Younce, who won grand champion in the Soil and Water Conservation Division with her 4-H project last summer. Also, Stephen Garman of near South Milford was awarded Young Conservation Farmer of the Year. Judy Fetters, longtime teacher at Wolcott Mills Elementary School, was recognized as the 2012 Conservation Teacher of the Year. NRCS District Conservationist Derek Thompson and Paul Yoder of rural Topeka were both awarded Conservation Cooperators of the Year.
Mahlon Dunkel of rural LaGrange was recognized for extensive wildlife habitat development on his farm this last year in cooperation with USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pheasants Forever Chapter 592, and the LaGrange County SWCD. Dunkel in turn awarded LaGrange County’s Long Term Conservation Service Award to Cyril and Jean Anderson from near Scott. District Manager Martin Franke recognized long-time SWCD Program Assistant Julie Diehm with a Special Conservation Service Award for 20+ years of service to the district, both as staff and as a conservation volunteer.