More than 100 ranchers, landowners and people interested in protecting wildlife and the environment, attended the 71st annual meeting of the Marion County Conservation District Feb. 24 at Eastmoor United Methodist Church in Marion.
In addition to the annual poster contest, a new contest was added.
“The board of supervisors decided to start a photo contest of conservation practices for Marion County youth under 18 years of age in 2017,” said Jackie Hett, one of the MCCD supervisors.
Students were encouraged to take pictures capturing images that could win first place at the county level and then compete at state.
Hett presented the first-place award to Karsen Kroupa. The entry has been entered in the state contest, too.
“Karsen’s photo shows some (of his family’s) cattle they feed out through the late fall and winter months at their home near Mud Creek,” she said. “This photo provides a great example of runoff control and using conservation practices with livestock production.”
Hett said cover crop keeps runoff from reaching the creek and the natural tree line is being preserved to aide with stream bank stabilization.
The poster contest winner was Anani Ensley of Marion. Damien Svitak, treasurer and MCCD supervisor, said her first-place award will be forwarded to the statewide competition.
Two Banker Awards recognized the work of George Wait of Springfield, Mo., and Greg Wait of Prairie Village. They were co-recipients of the 2017 of the Kansas Bankers Association Soil Conservation Award for Marion County.
The other Kansas Bankers Water Quality Award was presented to Ray Redger of Newton.
Presenting the Waits with the award was Tyler Ottensmeier, Marion County Key Banker. He said the two have tracts of land near Peabody.
“The Waits were encouraged by their tenants to look into conservation practices years ago,” he said. “They began small with a few waterways and terraces. They could see the benefit to the land and long-term sustainability of the operation from these first practices.”
Ottensmeier noted the Watts have installed conservation practices on most of their tracts. To date, they have about 30 acres of waterways, nine acres of other permanent vegetation seeding, 11 grade stabilization structures, more than 11 miles of terraces and 1,000-plus feet of diversions.
“They continue to investigate ways to improve the resources on their lands and are currently working on installing additional conservation measures,” Ottensmeier said.
Redger said he co-owns and operates land in Logan Township northwest of Durham.
“When Ray decided to come back and farm the family farm, he noted that a lot of gullies were washing away topsoil from the farmland,” Ottensmeier said.
Redger said it concerned him, and so he contacted the conservation office to develop a plan to control erosion.
“He began applying his conservation systems with the installation of nearly 19 acres of waterways in 2010,” Ottensmeier said. “While waiting for the waterways to establish, he practiced mulch tillage, keeping residue on the surface during critical erosion periods.”
Redger said he started terracing in 2015 and installed the conservation system in 2017—completing control of all gullies on the cropland fields.
Ronnie and Susan Carlson of Lincolnville received the 2017 Continuation Award for the work they had done on their land in 1996.
Presenting them with the award, Alan Vogel said they had installed conservation practices on all of their highly erodible lands in an effort to control excessive erosion.
“Since that time,” he added, “Ronnie and Susan have continued to promote the conservation ethic. Ronnie has served on the conservation district board, including several terms as vice-chairman.”
Ronnie Carlson continues to operate a dirt contractor business, installing conservation practices on other producers’ land in Marion and surrounding counties, Vogel added.
“Ronnie and Susan work to pass the conservation ethic on to their family members as they encourage their sons to implement conservation on their lands,” Vogel said.
Gary Duerksen of Lehigh received the organization’s Service Award for his years as a member of the district board, including as treasurer.
Candy Thomas, a regional soil health specialist in Kansas and Nebraska, started her career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in 1994, and later held titles of resource conservationist and district conservationist.
Thomas said in 2010 she was a training instructor and national conservation boot camp coordinator.
In 2013, Thomas said she transferred to the Kansas NRCS state office in Salina as the Kansas State Office and was promoted to regional soil health specialist.
“As a regional soil health specialist in Kansas and Nebraska, I assist farmers and ranchers with indicator of soil health and trains NRCS staff on the benefits of soil management systems.”