After 30 years of working as Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District as administrator and
program coordinator, Nicki Kale is retiring Friday with a great sense of satisfaction with what has been
accomplished during her tenure.
The district, charged with promoting the conservation of soil and water quality, offers related
environmental education for all ages.
Kale’s leadership led to the majority of environmental education outreach to school children. She said as
soon as she started as a program coordinator in 1989, she was asked to develop educational programs.
“And we have had a lot of fun doing this and covered a lot of ground,” she added.
The agency offers a variety of hands-on classroom (Pre-K-12) programs covering conservation topics that
meet the Ohio Academic Content Standards. Under her leadership, the district’s programming started with
teacher workshops including instituting the Black Swamp Teachers Extravaganza. They also developed free
in-class visits to share the message of water and soil conservation.
The district has expanded educational opportunities to include high school outreach programs such as
Envirothon, a program supported by the National Conservation Foundation. Kale said participating in
planning committees for Envirothon have been greatly rewarding and they were proud to have hosted a
state conference a few years ago.
Envirothon goals fit well with the goals of the district in teaching understanding of groundwater and
surface water systems, its connection to a healthy ecosystem, best management practices as well as
understanding the social, economic, political impacts of natural resources management and decision
Kale said in years past they had three schools in their 21-county district go to Envirothon state
competition. They are Otsego, Bowling Green and Elmwood.
“We love to see kids get involved in water and soil conservation issues because they participated in
these programs,” she said.
The newest teacher program this year is the June 11 Black Swamp Educators workshop called Water Quality;
It’s Everyone’s Business. Hosted at the University of Toledo Lake Erie Center on Bay Shore Road near
Oregon, it focuses on water quality activities that Kale said bring the facts alive in the classroom.
For landowners and farmers, the district is involved in several conservation programs.
Most recently, they have been hosting H2Ohio informational meetings, a new state program that seeks to
share with farmers and land owners land management practices such as volunteer nutrient management and
drainage water management, crop rotation and tillage, among others.
Almost from the beginning of her tenure, Kale said they have been encouraging farmers to try no-till crop
plantings by renting seed drills from the district to find out how that equipment works on their land
before deciding to purchase no-till equipment of their own.
Kale said that people who want to learn about WSWCD programs can visit the website at
http://www.woodswcd.com. They offer workshops, tours, field days, clinics and programs on a variety of
The Soil and Water Conservation districts were begun in 1935 when the county was in the middle of the
worst man-made ecological disaster — the Dust Bowl.
The Wood County district was chartered in 1949. Originally a part of the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources, their leadership was transferred to the Ohio Department of Agriculture six years ago.
An open house for Kale will be held Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Wood County Soil and Water District office, 1616 E. Wooster St., Suite 32.
(Kale’s name spelling has been corrected in this