CANFIELD, Ohio – Springfield Township farmer Carl Chuey received the Mahoning Soil and Water Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year award when the district held its annual meeting Nov. 18.
Chuey, who is also a biology professor at Youngstown State University, was surprised when his name was announced as winner of the coveted award.
“I’m so happy to have this recognition, but there are three people responsible for me being up here,” he said to a crowd at A La Cart Catering in Canfield.
Chuey went on to recognize his parents, whom he says taught him stewardship of the land on their Hereford Lane Farm in North Jackson and how to grow plants, can vegetables and use materials to make something useful.
“Together they sacrificed quite a bit to send me to college to get the training I needed” to become a biologist, he said.
He also praised his brother, James, who does the daily farmwork “so I can be off at the university,” he said.
Farm input. Chuey said his education and career give him insight into the importance of plants and natural resources on the farm, and he makes sure his input is heard.
“[Brother James] farms around trees I like no matter where they are,” he joked, noting the brothers’ property has trees standing in fencelines and in the middle of fields.
One such example are two shingle oaks Carl refused to remove, in order to keep a seed source for the tree variety on the farm. Those two trees stand in the middle of a farm field, Chuey said.
“We’ve got to keep these things around us,” he said.
The brothers have cooperated with the district for a number of years to construct 10 ponds, install grassed waterways, improve soil condition and add wildlife habitat.
They also have their farm enrolled in the American Tree Farm System and practice crop rotation and experiment with alternative crops like sunflowers, buckwheat and lupine beans.
Funding cuts. A sales tax renewal failure in Mahoning County puts the district’s programming at stake, according to Duane Moff of Ellsworth Township. Moff serves as vice chair of the SWCD board of supervisors.
Moff said the district’s budget from the county for next year currently is at zero, which would earn the board the state minimum disbursement of $40,000 for operations.
“This next year could be pretty challenging for us as supervisors, employees and cooperators,” he explained.
Year’s accomplishments. A slide presentation highlighted district accomplishments in the past year.
Key initiatives include 232 farm acres in conservation plans, 35 acres of timber stand improvement and 3 acres of tree plantings.
The county has 20 acres of land donated for agricultural easements, with another 150-plus acres pending.
The district also wrote a watershed plan for Mill Creek, supervised clean-up at Yellow Creek, and is involved with stream monitoring.
An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant for $470,000 is pending.
Urban help. Based on the 2000 Census, Mahoning County has 14 urban areas, including municipalities and urban-designated townships.
Those areas have 95 active development sites, adding an extra 978 acres to total 4,978 acres developed in the county since 1992.
Urban conservationist Don Garver’s projects in those areas include 585 acres of erosion reduction, 14 approved storm water pollution prevention plans, and 121 erosion and sediment control evaluations.
The district also highlighted its educational outreach, including school and community groups addressed, involvement in soil and water fairs and workshops, fish and tree sales and pond clinics.
Elections. Terry Abrams, deputy executive director of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of the Mahoning Valley, was elected to the board of supervisors.
Dairyman Gary Ruggles Jr. of North Jackson was re-elected.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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