Awards were recently presented to several farmers, landowners, teachers and others to recognize them for their outstanding efforts to help protect and preserve Iowa's soil and water resources. The honors were presented September 8 at the 2010 annual meeting of the Conservation Districts of Iowa organization, held in Des Moines.
The Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Award was presented to Cathy Johannsen of Harlan, who uses a number of conservation practices on her family farm in Shelby County in western Iowa. She also serves as a commissioner in the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District. The Outstanding Conservation District Commissioner Award is sponsored by Wallaces Farmer magazine.
Iowa's Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner
The nomination form filled out by those people in the Harlan SWCD who know Cathy Johannsen and serve with her, says: "Cathy is a remarkable individual who is always willing to serve her district and her community. When it comes to representing the district at meetings and events, Cathy can be counted on. She rarely, if ever, says no. Cathy is a leader and she chairs or supports numerous district goals. A retired teacher, Cathy serves on the scholarship committee of the Harlan SWCD where she carefully reads and evaluates every application."
"She is a judge for the poster contest and attends the school assembly to present the award and then visits with students. Cathy presents conservation programs at the outdoor classroom on Conservation Day. Cathy presents the windbreak award and promotes the many values of farm windbreaks."
Four years ago Cathy helped organize a group called "Women, Land & Legacy" and she is still very active—planning meetings, arranging for food and decorations, getting local business support and being the Master of Ceremonies for the annual meeting. Cathy serves on the advisory board for the Prairie Rose Water Quality Project and chairs the meetings. In 2010, Cathy gave many hours to serving on the Conservation Districts of Iowa's Commissioner Advisory Team and developed information for the presenters at the 2010 Spring Regional Meetings for CDI. Cathy has also given several presentations at regional CDI meetings and at the orientation meetings for new commissioners.
Other winners in 2010 Iowa Soil Conservation Awards program
A number of other awards were also presented at the CDI annual meeting. "Iowa's farmers have become national leaders in soil conservation practices, reducing field erosion by more than 30% over the last 20 years," noted Tim Palmer, CDI president and a farmer from Madison County.
The Iowa Farm Bureau recognized the soil-saving farmers in the state for 2010 who do an outstanding job of protecting the environment. Farming near Ottumwa in southeast Iowa, Emery and Julie Rouw received the 2010 Iowa State Soil Conservation Award. The Rouws were honored for their use of as many as 11 on-farm conservation practices, including grass waterways, terraces, trees, farm ponds, grass filter strips, strip till and phosphate fertilizer injection.
Eight other regional award winners -- farmers and landowners -- were also honored for their dedication to protecting the environment. The regional winners are Paula and Larry Schuller of Ireton, Frank and Ellen Seimens of Renwick, Chris Finneman of Clarksville, Ordell and Grace Sorenson of Waterville, the Milton E. Mueller Trust of Walnut, Raymond Smith of Laurel, Dorothy Tesdell and John Donelson of Kalona and Mike and Connie Standley of Lennox.
"We're grateful, but we didn't do all this soil conservation and water quality protection work for the recognition," says Emery Rouw, who has been a county soil commissioner since 2000, in addition to farming. "We're doing what we feel is necessary to ensure a future for generations of farmers to come. The value of soil and water conservation is something my father drilled into me at a young age." Rouw also credits his son, Nathan, and the employees at the county soil and water conservation district office, for their assistance and cooperation. Rouw calls the award he and his wife received "a group effort."
"The Rouws are a great example of the pro-active, on-farm conservation that's going on in Iowa," says Rick Robinson, environmental policy director for Iowa Farm Bureau. "Iowa leads the nation in acres devoted to grass filter and buffer strips, which help reduce erosion and keep sentiment out of streams. Iowa is also among the national leaders in no-till, conservation tillage, restored wetlands and many other conservation practices, which is why Iowa has been able to reduce soil erosion on cropland by more than 2.4 tons per acre since the early 1980s."