Becoming a master of conservation

MILLERSBURG, Ohio – The Holmes Soil and Water Conservation District is the only conservation district in Ohio offering a master conservationist program.

Modeled after similar master gardener programs, the program is specifically for those interested in conservation and environmental issues, said Michelle Wood, conservation district program administrator.

The 15.5 hours of instruction includes class room work, speakers and field trips. The deadline to apply for the August program is July 24.

Instructors include farmers, researchers, OSU Extension personnel, Soil and Water Conservation District personnel and Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel.

Topics include intensive grazing, conservation tillage, no-till, wetlands and wildlife, nonpoint source pollution and watershed planning.

Further topics include ecosystems, soils, agriculture management practices, logging management practices and water quality.

Field trips to farms, wetlands and woodlands are also part of the program.

“We’re hoping for a multiplier effect – that people [participating in the program] will let others know about the conservation issues facing us today,” Wood said.

Wood said that by having a career in conservation, she hears interesting facts from speakers and thinks others would appreciate similar information about new developments and research. She said the program will expose people to conservation information that they may not hear otherwise.

Farmers can also learn new practices from each other during the program, she said.

Teaching children. Tom Machamer of Wooster, Ohio, said he has two young children who like to play in the creek, forest and field and he wants to learn more about conservation so he can pass the information to his children. This will be his first time participating in the program.

Machamer has a greenhouse and 50-acre tree farm. He is hoping to learn ways to improve his timber harvest so there is not as much soil erosion, he said.

The county offered the program in 1993 and 1994 with help from an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant. When the grant expired, however, the program also stopped.

The previous program attracted teachers, farmers and citizens from all over the state, Wood said.

Dave Woodring, a tree farmer in Millersburg, Ohio, participated in the program during its first year in 1993 and plans on participating again this year.

He said during the original program, he was most interested in learning about grass waterways, water diversion and wildlife in the Killbuck watershed.

The program taught him the most up-to-date conservation practices that he was then able to share with students in his natural resource conservation class, which he teaches through a vocational agriculture program in Holmes County, Woodring said.

Details. Next year’s master conservationist program will have different topics and speakers so this year’s participants can retake the program if they would like to learn more.

The program consists of classroom sessions Aug. 5, 19 and 26, 6:30-9 p.m., in Millersburg, Ohio. Field trips are Aug. 19 and 24, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Holmes County.

The program is being offered on a tuition-reimbursement basis. The $50 registration fee will be reimbursed if the registrant participates in all sessions. One Ashland University credit will be available for $126. Registration is limited to 25.

For more information call 330-674-2811.

(You can contact Kristy Alger at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at


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