The Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ (OFSWCD) conducted the association’s 75th Annual Conservation Partnership Conference, “From Dust to Diamonds,” this past February. The event’s attendance included over 600 conservation leaders representing the local, state and federal government, farmers, business owners and many more. The Annual Meeting is conducted yearly in downtown Columbus and is focused on conservation training, development, education and outreach.
During this year’s meeting, the following SWCDs were recognized for celebrating 75 years: Butler, Clark, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Highland, Monroe, Morrow, Noble, Tuscarawas, Clermont, Fairfield, Logan, Meigs and Miami. Rick Bryan, a former Lucas SWCD Supervisor and Tom Reininger, a former Hamilton SWCD Supervisor and OFSWCD Past President, were inducted into the OFSWCD Supervisors Hall of Fame. Noble SWCD’s retiring Program Administrator Jim Mizik and Harrison SWCD received the President’s Award for service and a number of individuals were recognized for their 20,30 and 40 years of service. The 75th Diamond Reception and Gala event on Tuesday evening brought many longtime current and past conservation partners together to celebrate successes throughout the 75 years including. Those who participated in this special celebration included: OFSWCD Hall of Fame Members, former OFSWCD Presidents and Auxiliary members, Division of Soil and Water Conservation Chiefs and staff, retired SWCD staff members, retired USDA-NRCS employees and members of the Ohio Legislature.
Each year, Farm Credit of Mid-America recognizes Ohio’s Cooperator of the Year. This year’s recipient was the Bishops’ of Hocking County for donating property to Hocking SWCD to use for conservation education. Brenda Siepmann from Clermont county and Anita Barnhart from Medina counties were recognized as the Teachers of the Year. Cuyahoga SWCD was recognized with the District of the Year for Excellence in Education. The Ohio Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Employees’ recognized Mike Sheeter of Jackson SWCD as the Supervisor of the Year and Susan Kuba of Delaware SWCD as Professional Employee of the Year. The USDA-NRCS recognized Earth Team Winners Sandusky, Gallia and Hocking counties for their excellent partnership efforts.
This year’s event included special guest speaker, Ernie Shea of Solutions from the Land. He shared with the audience the importance of the past and present – but also highlighted conservation efforts happening to ensure a strong and healthy future. Various training workshops included topics such as water quality, soil health and cover crops, special program outreach, staff retention and so much more. In addition, Ohio’s Envirothon program’s silent auction produced additional financial support to the High School Environmental Competition, which begins next month and concludes with the State competition in June at Cedarville University.
The event was sponsored by over 30 different supporters and the meeting’s annual Trade Show experienced a record number of exhibitors!