CANFIELD, Ohio — Last year, only 24 people attended the Mahoning Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual dinner banquet.
District administrator Kathi Vrable-Bryan, in her first year in the position, knew something had to change in order to get more residents to turn out to see how the district’s hard work and outreach affects everyone in the county.
A new approach — a breakfast banquet — was successfully held Sept. 19 at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield. Approximately 80 people attended.
The district’s coveted Cooperator of the Year award was presented to Daniel and Marianne Mastropietro of Mastropietro Winery in Ellsworth.
The Mastropietros first took an interest in SWCD programs about four years ago, when they contacted district staffers for help in determining soil types on their property before building a pond, according to technician Vince Trinckes.
Since then, the family has installed the pond and multiple grassed waterways on its winery and vineyard in an effort to control runoff and erosion, according to Trinckes.
“It’s really amazing what these guys have done, and they’ve done it all with conservation in mind,” Trinckes said.
Canfield High School science teacher Larry Davis received Educator of the Year honors for his work in creating hands-on biology and ecology lessons for his students. Davis has been an educator at Canfield for 32 years and coached the school’s Envirothon team to a sixth-place finish this year.
J.T. Whitehouse, a reporter for the county’s Town Crier newspapers, was recognized as a Friend to the District for his work in spotlighting the district’s programs.
Deb Gordon received the Volunteer of the Year award for her unpaid assistance in designing the Mahoning Valley AgriGuide, a brochure mapping some of the county’s farm markets.
District technician Vince Trinckes also took a surprise Employee of the Year award for his part-time work with the district.
“We can’t thank him enough for sharing his enthusiasm with the district and people of the county,” Vrable-Bryan said.
During the meeting, attendees heard a report on the district’s efforts over the past year, including creating of the Mahoning Valley AgriGuide; the Phase II poster and billboard campaign; and successful completion of a $363,000 Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant.
The district also boasts assistance in bringing into the county more than $550,000 in EQIP grassed waterway and CRP funds from USDA; donations of rain garden books to every branch of the county’s library; plus numerous workshops and presentations held throughout the year.
Chad Less of Green Township was elected to a three-year supervisor term to start in January.
Supervisors for the past year include Gary Ruggles Jr., chair; Joe Toporcer Sr., vice chair; Harold Campbell, secretary; Donald Cutrer, fiscal agent; and supervisor Jeff Wisler. Associate supervisors were Hugh Earnhart and Richard Scarsella.