Monday, September 24, 2012
Five Ohio Farm Families Awarded for Conservation Efforts
LONDON, OH - Ohio's top five conservation farm families for 2012 were recognized during a ceremony at Farm Science Review in London for their long-standing dedication to natural resource conservation on their farms. The annual Conservation Farm Family Award is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Soil and Water Resources, Ohio Farmer magazine and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
Among the families honored were Bret, Beth, Gene and Mary Margraf from Seneca County, Davis and Bette Denman of Trumbull County, Joe Celuch and Brenda Butler of Muskingum County, Gene and Johnita Baumgardner of Madison County and Wayne and Mary McLaughlin of Fairfield County.
Since its inception in 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Award has recognized 151 Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts of conserving soil, water, woodland and wildlife and other natural resources on their farms. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, including opening their farms to groups such as schools, clubs and other organizations.
"The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award recognizes farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment while producing the food and fiber crops that are an important part of Ohio's economy," said Karl Gebhardt, chief of ODNR's Division of Soil and Water Resources and coordinator of the program. "The practices farmers use to prevent soil erosion and water pollution benefits all Ohioans and illustrates what individuals can do to conserve natural resources."
In addition to receiving $400 from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families are also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and receive plaques from Hancor Inc. Ohio Farmer magazine has sponsored the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award since the program began in 1984. Nominations for the award may be submitted annually between January and May.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.
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For further information, contact:
Bethany McCorkle, ODNR Office of Communications
Editor's Note: The profiles of the 2012 Conservation Farm Family Award winners are listed below.
Area 1 Winner - Bret, Beth, Gene and Mary Margraf farm more than 1,200 acres in Seneca and Wyandot counties. Their major crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. They have been district cooperators for more than 30 years. The conservation practices they have implemented include no-till, cover crops, crop rotation, grassed waterways and filter strips. They have also restored a wetland on their farm, installed subsurface drainage and implemented a manure management plan for livestock manures they receive. In 2011, the Margrafs were awarded with the No-Till Farmers of the Year award. They regularly invite local producers to view cover crops and offer assistance when a producer wants to establish a cover crop for the first time. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, they said, "There is always more that can be done to protect our resources of land and water. We should be attentive to this responsibility every day."
Area 2 Winner - Davis and Bette Denman and their family farm more than 1,600 acres in Trumbull County. Their primary crops are corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, and they also raise dairy cows. Conservation techniques utilized include no-till, precision nutrient management, crop rotation, cover crops and grassed waterways. The Denmans have hosted government officials, educators, school students and public tours as part of the Soil and Water Conservation District's (SWCD) annual farm foliage event. In 2011, Davis was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the National Beef Board. He also serves as a trustee on the American Dairy Association, Dairy Farmers of America and the Mid-East Milk Marketing Board. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, Davis said, "Conservation practices need to be done, but they need to be practical as well as economically viable."
Area 3 Winner - Joe Celuch and Brenda Butler farm more than 400 acres in Muskingum County. Their major crops are alfalfa and mixed grasses, and they also raise cattle. Conservation techniques utilized include soil amendments, rotational grazing, no-till, grassed waterways, filter strips, stream exclusion fencing and multiple stormwater management practices to reduce runoff. They have hosted a program that focuses on Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts and water quality practices. More than 200 community members and elected officials attended a conservation tour at their farm to see the practices they have implemented. Joe and Brenda have been district cooperators for eight years. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, Joe and Brenda said, "We are temporary stewards of the land during our lifetimes ... Simply remember that Mother Earth will return with interest every good committed to her care."
Area 4 Winner - Gene and Johnita Baumgardner farm more than 2,100 acres in Fayette, Madison and Fairfield counties. Their primary crops include corn and soybeans, and they raise cows and calves. Conservation techniques utilized include no-till, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips and stream exclusion fencing. The Baumgardners have been district cooperators for 35 years. They have hosted numerous SWCD meetings, provided land judging contest pits and have hosted two Fairfield County conservation days. Gene also serves as the Ohio Corn Growers representative to the State Technical Committee for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). When asked to describe his conservation philosophy, Gene said, "We are temporary stewards of the land, and we are doing our best to preserve, enhance and promote sound agricultural practices for our children and grandchildren."
Area 5 Winner - Wayne and Mary McLaughlin farm 345 acres in Fairfield County. Their major crops are hay and corn, and they raise cattle. The conservation techniques they have utilized include filter strips, contour strips, crop rotation and cover crops. In 1975, the McLaughlins received the Fairfield Cooperator of the Year award, and 37 years later they will receive the award again. Mary served as a 4-H advisor for more than 40 years. Three generations of McLaughlins have been conservation leaders in the community, and they continue to protect the land for future generations. Wayne and Mary have been district cooperators for 50 years. When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, Wayne said, "Three generations of McLaughlins have seen the power of erosion of the farms around them, and they see their role as stewards of the soil."