February 16th marked the 75th annual meeting for the SWCD here in Vanderburgh County. We were the first District formed in the State back in 1941! Being the 75th means it is our Diamond anniversary, and to celebrate this fact, we gave away an unusual door prize…a set of diamond earrings donated by local jeweler Bryan Turley, owner of Turley Mfg. Jewelers located in downtown Evansville.
The theme of the meeting was Pollinator Habitats, and to emphasize this, The Donut Bank donated a sheet cake for the evening decorated in a habitat with bees and monarch butterflies. The decoration for this was hand piped and turned out beautifully. It was also delicious!
As usual, the purpose of the meeting is to elect new supervisors, and present our annual report to the public. Approximately 120 people from the surrounding area showed up for the festivities which included dinner of beef, chicken, sides and desert. The outgoing supervisor this time was Steve Helfrich, our chairman, who has served us well for six years. Our thanks and appreciation go out to him for all the time he spent helping guide the District in service to the community. His presence will be missed for sure.
The newly elected supervisor replacing Steve is Joe Schalasky of Seton Harvest. His term started immediately and will run for three years. He is a former Friend of Conservation award winner from 2009 and operates a CSA on the west side for the Daughters of Charity.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Don Neyhouse of Bayer Crop Science. He consults with farmers on crop protection products, crop production and weed resistance. He is more importantly, for our purposes, a Bee Ambassador promoting bee health through science and education. As you probably know, bees are becoming an issue of concern nationally and are the focus of SWCD and NRCS programs.
Don spoke for 30 minutes on the subject illuminating the plight of the bees and informing the crowd on ways to assist in helping save them.
The evening was also an opportunity for local awards to be doled out to deserving persons friendly to the conservation movement. The community conservation award went to Superior Ag Co-op for its service towards cover crop placement in our community…approximately 4500 to 5000 acres, and its nutrient and pest management planning as well.
The Conservation Educators Award was given to John Foster and Wesselman Woods Nature Society for its 964 educational programs for children and adults which reached nearly 42,000 people in our community.
The River Friendly Farmer award was shared this year by Kent and Daniel Lamey who employed over 500 acres of fabulous cover crop this past year as well as numerous conservation field programs such as waterways, no till planting, nutrient and pest management and WASCOBS.
Finally the Conservation Farmer of the Year award was presented to Rexing and Rexing Partnership for their decades of on the ground conservation such as no till, cover crop, filter strips, WASCOBS, grassed waterways, terraces and seven acres of pollinator habitat! The award is sponsored by Farm Credit Services.
At the end of the night the numerous door prizes were given out and the diamond earrings were scooped up by Mary Farney! We would like to once again thank all of our generous sponsors for their wonderful donations to the cause of water quality and soil health! Our local community sponsors include Turley Mfg. Jewelers, Straub Outdoor Power, Spudz-N-Stuff, tractor Supply Co., Hornville Tavern, Superior Ag Co-op, Daylight Farm Supply, Raben Tire, Donut Bank, Combs Landscape and Nursery, Western Ribeye and Ribs and the Gerst Haus.