Soil and water district presents awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor   
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 10:15
GRAND RAPIDS - Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt were recognized with the Farm Beautification award; Karen Deutschman and Joel Himelhan were presented the Backyard Conservationist Award; Josh Kieffer was recognized as the 2013 Friend of the District; while Ken Stearns and Sons was recognized as the Cooperator of the Year.
The awards were made as the Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual awards banquet and election on Thursday at Nazareth Hall.
Elmwood High School graduate Shelby George earned this year's $1,000 scholarship from the organization.
Dennis Ferrell and Lee Sundermeier, current members of the board of supervisors were returned to office for another term in the elections held just prior to the banquet.
Many of those in attendance said they were impressed by the featured speaker AJ Digby. He is an Otsego student who also represents the United States on the Paralympic Track and Field team.
According to the introduction of the award to the Pratts of Perrysburg, their "family farm is steeped in local family history."
The farmstead entered into the Pratt family by Doug's great-great grandfather in 1815 as part of a land pact following the War of 1812 and the founding of Perrysburg.
It was announced, "While the flag pole is flying our current American flag, one from 1812 can also been seen flying on special occasions."
Continuing on their selection, the announcement stated, "When remodeling and updating the home, care was taken to keep much of the original workmanship, layout and materials. Foundation stones were added to an accent wall, as well as used for all of the terraced beds. Heirloom plants were relocated, including the peony bed that dates back to at least 1929. Plants begin blooming in the spring with crocus and continue through the late fall with the roses. Reclaimed lumber from both the house and barns was used for trim."
The award was designed to encourage farmers' pride in their farmsteads. It was established in 1975 by the late Harold and Iva Lou Bordner. Their estate continues to sponsor the award.
This was the second year for the backyard conservationist award to be presented. Rudolph residents Deutschman and Himelhan were selected
Their introduction read, in part, noting, "they have done a beautiful job landscaping their new home all while incorporating practices which conserve natural resources."
The selection committee noted that conservation practices are the heart of the landscape for this home site. The backyard includes both flower and vegetable gardens along with facilities to collect rainwater in both rain barrels and an underground cistern.
There are also multiple working compost bins which speed the process of turning garden and food waste into valuable organic material. They also recently established a windbreak to protect the plants and soil, as well as reduce heating and cooling costs in their home.
Kieffer, an agronomist for Luckey Farmers Inc. at the Sugar Ridge facility, was selected as this year's Friend of the District for his work with the district over the last few years, especially with nutrient management techniques. His introduction called him "a key contributor to the recent success of the WLEB-NRP program."
His efforts are considered "instrumental to the success and acceptance of precision nutrient management out in the field."
The Perry Township operation of the Stearns family was selected as the "Cooperator of the Year" by the WSWCD.
The family operation involves row crops, small grains, and an excavation business. That business includes not only their farming but also the installation of numerous conservation structures for fellow Wood County producers each year.
They use reduced tillage and no-tillage practices in their farming operation. They have installed rock chutes, erosion control structures, surface drains, and utilized the districts rental equipment on their farm. They also have installed more than 10 acres of buffers along streams.
Recently Stearns and Sons participated in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program enrolling acreage into nutrient management with variable rate application, cover crops and strip tillage, through the WSWCD
Though not able to attend the banquet, Shelby George of Wayne is the recipient of the annual $1,000 scholarship. George is a senior at University of Northwestern Ohio, in Lima.
She has an associate's degree and is completing her bachelor's degree, majoring in agricultural business.
Bernie Scott, also a member of the board, was recognized for his recent inductions into both the Wood County and Ohio Agricultural Halls of Fame.
Digby is a Tontogany resident who lost his legs as an infant due to a rare birth condition. After receiving his first prostheses as a 1-year-old, he has grown up with a strong determination to accomplish things on his own, sharing his competitive attitude.
He achieved what he called an "awe inspiring experience," when he heard the United States national anthem played while he was standing atop the podium as a gold medalist at the World Junior Championships in Puerto Rico at the International Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports event.
He spoke of his faith and his ongoing struggle to climb every ladder of success.
"My ladder has no legs," he said telling all those gathered to "Push yourself. You can reach your goals."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 11:30

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