Five Pa. residents awarded for conservation work in Lawrence County


NEW CASTLE, Pa. – For Gary Fulkman, conservation is just something that’s always been at the forefront of his mind.
“Water runoff, fertilization, manure; I get involved in those issues all the time,” he said.
Fulkman and four others were recognized for their efforts in conservation at the Lawrence County Conservation District annual meeting Jan. 5.
Farmer of the Year. Fulkman is a field representative for Dairy Farmers of America and Dairy Marketing Service. He is also a part-time farmer and winner of the district’s Conservation Farmer of the Year award.
He is the owner and operator of Crystalaire Farms in Pulaski Township, pasturing about 35 dairy replacement animals under contract with an area milk producer.
Fencing. The pastures at Crystalaire Farms are divided into 11 3-acre paddocks. High-tensile fence is used to control animal access and movement and to restrict them from streams and ponds. The animals are watered through a centralized waterer.
A first cutting of hay is sometimes taken from four or five of the paddocks prior to animal grazing in the spring.
Fulkman started a rotational grazing system on his 110-acre farm about 10 years ago. He uses a rotating system for his crops and composts manure, too.
194 years. Fulkman’s farm has been in his family since 1812 and it was one of the first in Lawrence County to be enrolled in the Farmland Preservation Program.
Resource Management. Ed Petrus received the district’s Resource Management Award. He has been the district conservationist for Lawrence County, Mercer County, or both, since 1981.
Petrus has helped many landowners plan and implement soil and water conservation practices. He also works with the Lawrence and Mercer County Ag Land Preservation boards.
Public Official. Commissioner Steve Craig was honored with the Public Official’s Award for his support of the conservation district.
In the past, when Craig was head of the local planning commission, he worked with the conservation district by sharing an administrative assistant. Now, he maintains his relationship with the district by attending events sponsored by the district and its agencies.
Craig participates in the area ag/industry group, an organization that meets regularly to share direction and ideas.
He took part in a tour at the Bugle Point Elk operation and also viewed the district’s Growing Greener farm construction projects.
Educator. Amy Mergenthaler from the Mohawk school district received the conservation district’s Educator of the Year honor. At her school, Mergenthaler has developed trails and environmental areas and her students have earned top honors at the Lawrence County Envirothon.
Urban Conservationist. Randy Costello was named the Urban Conservationist of the Year.
He has been in charge of the New Castle Shade Tree Commission for several years. Some of Costello’s efforts in conservation can be seen in the city’s tree lawns.
Demonstrations. The annual meeting also featured demonstrations from four Lawrence County FFA chapters.
The Mohawk FFA chapter gave a presentation about compost heat. The Wilmington Area chapter demonstrated how to make biodiesel. The Laurel FFA explained the science behind athletic turf and the Union Area chapter gave a presentation on zoonotics.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at

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