Missouri Farmer Recognized As National Conservation Leader
Chariton County farmer Kenny Reichert was recognized as one of the nation’s conservation leaders January 29 at the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Reichert, who owns and operates a farm near Brunswick and is chair of the Chariton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board of Supervisors, received the Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award from Jason Weller, acting chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The award recognizes an individual who provides superior service to the conservation community in promoting and leading conservation on private lands. The late Olin Sims was a Wyoming rancher and NACD president whose life was distinguished by years of volunteerism to conservation.
“Like Olin Sims, Kenny Reichert sees conservation of natural resources as more than something you just do for yourself and for the benefit of your own farm or ranch. It’s something you do to benefit your neighbors, community, state and country,” Weller said.
Reichert has been practicing and advocating no-till planting for nearly 30 years, and has served a key role in promoting conservation activities through NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Reichert’s efforts have been key in getting farmers in his area to implement practices that are helping to improve water quality in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Reichert also has become an untiring promoter of soil health. He guided the Chariton County SWCD board in organizing two workshops to promote soil-health-building practices like cover crops. More than 300 people attended the workshops.
Reichert also steered the Chariton County SWCD’s efforts in working with NRCS, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the University of Missouri and private businesses to develop a soil health demonstration farm. The farm is one of two in the nation that is testing which cover crops perform best at improving soil health and water quality.
“I have never seen as much excitement as there is now with cover crops,” Reichert says. “We’re just revisiting the days of my grandfather. They were using cover crops without knowing the science behind why they worked. Now we have the technology and research to back up why they make such good sense.”
To help alleviate fears of his fellow farmers who were concerned with the costs and effectiveness of completely changing their farming practices, Reichert represented his district in encouraging the Missouri Soil and Water Districts Commission to implement a pilot cost-share program in Chariton County for cover crops.
Reichert says he is honored to receive the Olin Sims award, but adds that he doesn’t view what he does as anything special.
“To me, I’m just doing what I should be doing,” he says. “And it isn’t just me doing these things; it’s the (Chariton County) board. I just happen to be chairman and am out front.”