Mast takes Holmes County roots to D.C.; Holmes SWCD honors Stitzleins


WALNUT CREEK, Ohio – “Conservation is the right thing to do. We just have the use of the land for a little while, then someone else takes over.”
Ken Stitzlein made this statement as he received the Holmes County Conservation Award at the 58th annual meeting of the Holmes Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
The meeting was held Nov. 17 at the Carlisle Village Inn in Walnut Creek.
Stitzlein and his wife, Dorothy, live in Ashland County just over the line, but three of the four farms that Ken farms are in Holmes County. He farms 580 acres, 300 of which is tillable, with 80 acres in pasture.
Walks the walk. The Stitzleins were early adopters of no-till in the early 1970s. He currently no-tills corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
Stitzlein keeps about 40 brood cows on 80 acres of pasture and finishes about 120 steers each year. Several years ago, he installed an access lane to provide a firm base for cattle to access the pasture.
In addition, a stream crossing was designed to allow cattle access across a stream to their pasture without disturbing the stream bottom. The water runs under a tile at the access point.
Stitzlein also constructed a waterway in one of his soybean fields this year and conducted a timber stand improvement project several years ago.
Off to Washington. Special recognition was given to Gary Mast, who was a part of the Holmes SWCD for more than 23 years. In August, he accepted a position as special assistant to Bruce Knight, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Prior to this, he had also served as president of the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Current Holmes SWCD board member Jim Croskey presented Mast with a framed farm scene, which Mast said he will hang in his office in Washington.
Following footsteps. In accepting the print, Mast said he agrees with Stitzlein, that “conservation is the right thing to do.
“I appreciate all the early leaders we have had here in conservation and some of the mentors I have had through the years, among them Murray Gerber, Frank Shutt, Larry Alexander, Dale Schlegel, Wilbur Yoder and Paul Boyd. We have had good leadership, a good staff and good community support.”
Election of supervisors was held prior to the banquet. Jim Croskey was elected to a three-year term, and Jason Schuch was elected to a two-year term, filling the unexpired term of Gary Mast.
Education efforts. Each year, the district coordinates the Tom Graham fifth grade conservation tour. Following the tour, students are asked to write an essay about what they have learned. Essays are entered with no names for judging.
Students submitting the top three essays receive trophies and the first place winner reads the essay at the banquet. Ryan and Brandon Graham, sons of the late Tom Graham, a soil scientist in whose memory the tour was re-named, assisted with the presentation.
Winning trophies were Lindsey Mast, daughter of Leon and Lois Mast, a student at Walnut Creek Elementary, first place; Hayley Kick, daughter of David and Nancy Kick, a student at Lakeville Elementary, second place; and Cameron Mast, son of Don and Sherilyn Mast, a student at Walnut Creek Elementary, third place.
Chuck Reynolds presented the Earth Team Volunteer Award to Jeff Pratt for his volunteer work on various projects, such as taking stream samples as a part of the Alpine Nutrient Trading Program.
Michelle Wood, program administrator, highlighted some of the district’s accomplishments during the past year.


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