DONALD AND SHARI OPDAHL RECOGNIZED AS 2019 POPE SWCD OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST OF THE YEAR
The Pope SWCD would like to congratulate this year’s Outstanding Conservationist, Don and Shari Opdahl. Don is an employee of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (seed, biotech, and noxious weed unit) for the past 28 years. Shari is a retired music teacher of 34 years and most recently worked at Glacial Hills Elementary school.
The Opdahl’s operate an 820 acre corn and soybean farm south of Starbuck, Minnesota. The entire farm is on a 4 year rotation for grid soil sampling. The Opdahl’s have implemented 9 water and sediment control basins starting in 2015.They also installed approximately 20 water quality inlets on the remaining open intakes on their farm. They converted 1 open intake to a rock inlet design. Don and his family have been very supportive of the Pope SWCD and NRCS. They have on at least 2 occasions allowed our office to use their sites for educational program tours.
Don and Shari are very deserving of this recognition as the 2019 Outstanding Conservationists of the Year. They addressed their erosion concerns by implementing structural practices but were receptive and did implement new management to their tillage program. Their entire operation was reviewed under the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification program and did meet the criteria for certification once the tillage was adjusted, intakes were closed, and structures were installed. Don is a fourth generation Pope County farmer who hopes to pass this farm off to the fifth generation, his son. These investments Don and Shari have made will have a large impact on the future of the farm. Congrats again to the Don and Shari Opdahl Family on their efforts to improve their land for future generations.
They will be recognized in December at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual conference in Bloomington, Minnesota and by our County Board. Congratulations to the Opdahl Family on this well deserved recognition.
SHANE AND JESSICA BLAIR RECOGNIZED AS 2018 POPE SWCD OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST OF THE YEAR
The Pope SWCD has selected this year’s County Outstanding Conservationist of the Year. The Shane and Jessica Blair Family are this year’s recipient of this award. They are from Starbuck and have four children Morgan, Parker, Owen, and Dawson.
The Blair’s operation a 546 acre diversified farm with approximately 200 polypay ewes, 400 market lambs, 60 British White and Herford Angus Cross Cows, 60 market steers, and 60 crossbred market hogs and crops. They utilize no-till on 100% of their operation. They have converted all of their highly erodible land to native pasture and utilize cover crops through the farm especially cover crops in cash crops and cover crops with small grains. They have integrated cover crops as a way to extend the grazing season for their cattle and sheep herds. They have been able to graze as late as December in some paddocks.
They have planted a shelter belt to address wind erosion around the farm and to provide shelter for the livestock. They have a robust rotational grazing system which utilizes public lands in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy. They also have a grazing plan to improve cover on a parcel enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. They have divided most of their acres into paddocks and they leave the livestock on the site no longer than 6 days. The goal is to leave 1/2 of the forage behind and they rest each paddock for no less than 45 days. They typically put the cattle on a paddock first and then introduce the sheep. They have found some great results in using this method. The Blair’s have been working with the NRCS grazing specialist, Jeff Duchene and NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Melissa Behrens since 2008. Since 2008 with the assistance of NRCS staff and the EQIP program the Blairs have worked to convert their entire operation including pasture planning, cover crop plans, and a grazing system establishment.
The Blairs are using soil test and have maintained all their buffers on the property. They also have a parcel currently enrolled in the CREP program.
The Blairs were Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certified in 2018 through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. They intend to use the MAWQCP certification for marketing their products through their Fire Rock Brand. They strive to work with nature to provide fresh, healthy local food. They use extended season rotational grazing, cover crops, and no-till farming methods to prevent soil erosion and increase organic matter on their land.
The Blairs are active in their community including the Sustainable Farming Association, 4-H, Homeschoolers group, and Shane currently serves on the Blue Mounds Township Board.
They have participated and hosted tours at their farm and been members on panels promoting and sharing with others about the conservation practices they have implemented.
Shane and Jessica Blair are excellent stewards of the land and we are proud to nominate them for this recognition. The Blairs will be honored at a County Board Meeting in November and at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Convention in December. Congrats to the Blair Family.
TOM AND ANN BEUCKENS RECOGNIZED AS 2017 POPE SWCD OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST OF THE YEAR
Tom and Ann Beuckens of Starbuck were honored as outstanding conservationists at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, December 3-5, 2017 in Bloomington, Minn. They were selected by the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the award. They were also selected as one of eight area finalists in the state for their conservation work. They will be featured in an article in the Farmer Magazine in early 2018.
Each year, the state’s SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine.
According to Holly Kovarik, the Beuckens were recognized for a variety of reasons. Following is a summary of some of the reasons why they was chosen:
They operate an 850 acre farm raising soybeans and corn. Over the years, they have planted a shelterbelt, buffer strips, implemented 9 water and sediment control basins, grid sampled the operation for nutrient management, constructed a diversion structure, a grassed waterway, and converted 20 open intakes to water quality inlets. They have had sensitive areas enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program since 1988. The Beucken’s are active members in their community including: the Chamber of Commerce, Corn Growers, Starbuck Veterans Auxiliary, Pope County Flyers, Gladys Brang Foundation, and Pope County Pheasant Restoration Committee. The Beuckens are also a 2017 Minnesota Department of Ag Water Quality Certified Farm. The Beucken’s are good stewards and have improved and invested in their land for future generations.
“We’re really proud of the Beuckens and what they have done for conservation in Pope County,” said Kovarik. Congratulations to the Beuckens Family.
For more information on the program, contact Kovarik at the Pope SWCD, phone (320) 634-5327.
PAUL AND BARB KOUBSKY RECOGNIZED AS 2016 POPE SWCD OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST OF THE YEAR
Paul and Barb Koubsky will be honored as outstanding conservationists at a Dec. 6 luncheon at the annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) in Bloomington, Minn.
“We’re proud of the Koubskys for what they’ve done in conserving the natural resources in our area,” said Keith Nygaard, supervisor of the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, which nominated the Koubskys for the award. “It’s great to be able to recognize the work they’ve done locally. The Koubskys operate a diversified farm operation raising soybeans and corn with cover crops including rye and wheat. The operation includes 130 cow/calf pairs on a rotational grazing system including grazing the cover crops on 60-90 acres. Over the years they have planted shelterbelts and buffer strips, implemented a waste management system, grid sampled the operation for nutrient management, constructed 17 water and sediment control structures, treated invasive species including wild parsnip, and implemented cattle exclusion practices.
“We’re proud of the Paul and Barb Koubsky family for what they’ve done in conserving the natural resources in our area,” said Tom Talle supervisor of the Pope SWCD. The Koubsky’s are good stewards trying new practices in their diversified operation to improve the land for future generations.
MASWCD sponsors the Outstanding Conservationist Award, with support from The Farmer magazine.
Additional information on the event is available on the Association’s web site at www.maswcd.org.
DORRICH DAIRY RECOGNIZED AS 2015 POPE SWCD OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONISTS & STATE AREA FINALIST
The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) has named Dorrich Dairy, Glenwood, Minnesota as one of eight Area Finalists in the 2015 Outstanding Conservationist Award Program. Dorrich Dairy was recognized at a Dec. 8 luncheon at MASWCD’s 79th annual convention in Bloomington. The awards program recognizes farm families, individuals, conservation organizations, and other groups for their accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.
Of the eight finalists, one was announced as the State’s Outstanding Conservationist of the Year at the Dec. 8 luncheon.
“We’re proud of Dorrich Dairy and the Vold Family for what they’ve done in conserving the natural resources in our area,” said Tom Talle supervisor of the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, which nominated Dorrich Dairy and the Vold Family for the award. “It’s great to be able to recognize the work they’ve done locally. They’ve provided a wonderful example for us by implementing buffers, no-till, pest and nutrient management, wildlife practices, water reuse, cover crops, and much more,” he said. They are also very active in the community and provide education an outreach to the community to share their expertise about agriculture. Dorrich Dairy was also just recently recognized as the first operation certified in Pope County through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Ag Certainty program.
MASWCD sponsors the Outstanding Conservationist Award Program, with support from The Farmer magazine.
HALLS FAMILY RECOGNIZED AS 2014 STATE OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONISTS
The Halls Family was selected to represent Pope County by Pope SWCD at the 2014 Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts Convention held December 7-9th, 2014. They were one of 64 county conservationists being honored for their efforts in implementing conservation and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.
The Halls Family was awarded top honors at the Convention they were selected as this year’s State Conservationists and were awarded a print from the Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts and the Farmer Magazine.
The Halls Family was also honored by Pope County on December 16.
The Halls Family has been implementing projects and practices in the last several years including: 150 acres of cover crops that are used for rotational grazing, wildlife purposes, and wind erosion; conservation tillage on steeper slopes and highly erodible soils; 180 Chi-Angus cattle that graze on public and private lands in cooperation with other agencies while promoting soil health and a longer grazing season; raise club lambs and several head of sheep; invasive species management; soil tests in spring and fall; use of an aerial vehicle to scout areas for pest and nutrient management, and heat stress; two feedlot upgrade projects; riparian buffers around wetland areas; enrollment of 73.9 acres into a wetland restoration project; food plots for wildlife; and a member of the Simon Lake Challenge to rotate grazing on public and private lands.
The Halls Family is also very active in the community including Pope County Extension and 4-H, State Beef Board, Pope County Fair Board, Dairy Board, Glacial Ridge Cattlemen, State Cattleman’s Organization, West Central Sheep Producers, Simon Lake Challenge Steering Committee, Farmer Leader for grazing network, Pope Soil and Water Conservation District Board member, and volunteering at educational events to promote conservation projects they have implemented and used.
Congratulations to the Halls Family for their efforts
Outstanding Conservationist Criteria
PURPOSE : The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD), with support from The Farmer magazine, offers the the MASWCD Outstanding Conservationist Award to recognize individuals, conservation organizations, and others for outstanding accomplishments with implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources. Recognition will be given for accomplishments between July 1 of last year and June 30 of this year. Each year Pope Soil & Water Conservation District selects an Outstanding Conservationist of the Year.
ELIGIBILITY: In order for an entry to be included in the recognition program, the member district must have completed and submitted the District Capacity Award score sheet to the MASWCD office by the deadline.
SWCD supervisors, SWCD employees, and employees of our state and federal agency partners are not eligible for recognition through this program. If you would like to recognize an SWCD supervisor, please consult materials for the MASWCD Outstanding Supervisor Award. If you would like to recognize an SWCD employee, please consult materials for the Outstanding District Employee of the Year Award (administered by the Board of Water & Soil Resources).
Following is the criteria that we use in selecting the Outstanding Conservationist of the Year:
Forestry Improvement and Establishment
Wind Erosion Practices
Pasture Improvement and Management
Integrated Pest Management
Livestock & Manure Management Practices
Other Soil & Water Conservation Practices
Once selected the county winner(s) will compete with the 91 SWCD’s for overall Outstanding Conservationist of the Year. This award is given annually at the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation District Annual Convention in December.
Past Outstanding Conservationists of the Year:
|2019 Don and Shari Opdahl||2018 Shane and Jessica Blair|
|2017 Tom and Ann Beuckens||2016 Paul and Barb Koubsky|
|2015 Dorrich Dairy||2014 Halls Farm|
|2013 Dr. Bruce Brown||2012 Steffen and LuAnn Stadsvold|
|2011 Gregg and Denise Stoen||2010 Luverne and Mary Jo Forbord|
2009 Darrel and Brenda Danielson
Dennis and Lonnie Danielson
|2008 Nathan and Karla Johnson|
|2007 Pope County Pheasant Restoration||2006 Gerald and Joan Maus|
|2005 Linda and Daniel Jenniges||2004 Gary and Mavis Tebrake|