SMITHVILLE, Ohio — The Wayne Soil and Water Conservation District held its 70th annual meeting Nov. 16, at The Barn Restaurant in Smithville.
On May 7, 1947, a small group of landowners met for the organizational meeting of the Wayne Soil Conservation District and the Wayne SWCD was born.
Among those five, founding members was Ezra Steiner, a dairy farmer in Wayne County, whose legacy is reflected in this year’s conservation farm winner.
Conservation Farm Award
Pine Tree Dairy, of Marshallville, was recognized as the 2017 Conservation Farm Award winner. The Steiner family milks 650 cows and farms 2,400 acres in Wayne County.
In 2012, following the completion of their new facility in Marshallville, the Steiners constructed two concrete manure pits (holding around 2 million gallons each) and a 6 million gallon liquid manure storage pit.
The freestalls were equipped with a sand lane flush system to control manure and recycle sand, and leachate from bunker silos is also collected to prevent runoff.
Matt Steiner, who says he is retired from the family dairy, said the family has increased its focus on cover crops and preserving the soil.
Steiner reflected on a bit of wisdom passed down from his grandfather, Ezra Steiner, and now passed on to his own children, “If you take care of the cows, they will take care of you.”
Conservation Education Award
Conservation is an everyday observance in the second-grade classroom of Heidi Breudigam, who received the Conservation Education Award.
She has taught for 17 years at Hazel Harvey Elementary, in Doylestown, and has taught second grade for 14 years.
All of her science lessons are hands-on. When she can’t bring her students outdoors, she brings the outdoors to them. In her classroom, you will find bins full of nests, seeds, things from nature, as well as Henry Yertle, the classroom turtle.
Over the years Breudigam has received grants from the Wayne County Retired Teachers Association, Excellence in Education and Project Wild that have allowed her to install raised bed gardens, a mini-wetland and bird feeding stations with birdhouses.
Because of her efforts, Hazel Harvey was certified as a Wild School Site by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Breudigam and her students also track the migration of the Monarch butterflies and observe the growth of Red Empire tulips as part of the Journey North online research site.
“I believe it is my job, as an educator, to instruct and model conservation,” Breudigam said. “Education is my passion.”
Breudigam also likes to explore all over Ohio and the Eastern United States, taking pictures of her adventures and bringing back “treasures” to share with her students.
Election of supervisors
At the end of the evening, one supervisor was elected to the Wayne SWCD board of supervisors to fill the expiring term of Fred Myers, who is retiring after 24 years with the Wayne SWCD. Jeff Gochnauer joins John Redick, Matt Peart, Scott Stoller and Dustin Ramsier on the five-member board.
Coverage from last year’s banquet: Wayne SWCD honors individuals for their conservation efforts
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