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Conservation Showcase

Minnesota's Conservation Showcase

During the conference, presentations were translated into 5 different languages.

11th Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference

The 11th Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference (IMFC) took place January 30-31, 2016 at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  For the last 11 years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been a partner in this outreach effort.  Close to 300 people participated in this January weekend event. 

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Gary Watson with faculty and other members of the Marshall community were in attendance at the inaugural event.

1st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King

January 18, 2016 was a special day for Gary Watson, Assistant State Conservationist – Field Operations, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service in Marshall, Minnesota.  On this day, Watson celebrated Martin Luther King (MLK) day MLK by participating in the 1st Dr. Martin Luther King, Living the Dream continuing to progress as a community at Southwest Minnesota State University. 

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Buffalo Field Office Volunteer

Volunteering at USDA-NRCS Leads to Career in Conservation

It has been said that sometimes you have to seek out opportunities to further your experiences in life.  Such was the case with Katelyn Mattila, a University of Wyoming, Laramie graduate. After graduating and moving back to Minnesota, Katelyn began the search for a career that would allow her to follow her passion with conservation. 

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Tom Finnegan-producer  & Dean Thomas-Area 6 Soil Health Technician

Improving Dobbins Creek through the MRBI

Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has named five initial watersheds eligible for dedicated funding through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Dobbins Creek, located in Mower County was one of the selected watersheds.

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Bruce Barnum

Barnum signs his first CStP Contract

Bruce Barnum learned about the Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP) by reading an article in the local Mower Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) newsletter.  After reading the newsletter he made contact with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Austin field office to find out more about this NRCS program.    

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Post harvest of Aspen stand for Golden-winged warbler habitat.

Improving the habitat through EQIP

Jeremy Uecker manages the Dale T. Kraft Trust located in Kerrick Township, Pine County, Minnesota.  The trust includes a total of 510 acres with approximately 120 acres of the land in pasture, and the remaining acres in woodland and wetlands.

In August 2013, Uecker completed an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funded Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) plan written by Dennis Thompson, a registered technical service provider.  This gave the Trust a foundation from which they could manage their forested land.

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Winton Nelson, retired Ag teacher and Jacob Stitch, District Conservationist, Litchfield

Ag teaching career put to good use on Meeker County farm

The motto of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization is:  Leaning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.  This is a motto that Winton Nelson, retired Ag teacher has come to live by in Meeker County, Minnesota. Today he is actively farming and is putting his Ag teaching background to use on his Meeker County farm.

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Darwin Roberts, a corn and soybean farmer in Martin County and Reginald Liddell, District Conservati

Conservation connection in Martin County, Minnesota

Darwin Roberts, a corn and soybean farmer in Martin County, Minnesota knows the importance of soil and water conservation in southern Minnesota.  His passion and understanding for the land led him to serving as a supervisor for the Martin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).  For the last 11 years, Roberts has worked tirelessly to let others know about the importance of utilizing soil and water resources in Martin County.  Through this experience, Roberts has been able to showcase conservation on his own farm.

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of Jim Smith, NRCS technician, Owatonna field office and Howard Schoenfeld, Steele county farmer

Equipped to make a difference on the land in Steele County, Minnesota

Jim Smith, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil conservation technician believes NRCS’ mission of “Helping People Help the Land.”  Over the last 13 years, he has worked with the NRCS as a technician in Steel County, Minnesota.  For Smith, it’s natural for him to want to help farmers solve their natural resource conservation concerns.  Such was the case for Smith in providing technical assistance Steele County farmer, Howard Schoenfeld. 

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Brian DeVetter, NRCS District Conservationist and Luke Scherger,from Dodge County, MN.

Dodge County Animal Mortality Facility

Luke Scherger operates a 1300 acre farm in Wasijoa Township, Dodge County and raises corn and soybeans along with raising contract hogs from wean to finish.   After a few years of raising hogs, the incinerator that he used on the farm for managing the hog mortalities needed to be replaced.  Fortunately, he had a good understanding of the local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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John Peterson, along with his wife Mary and mother Lorraine

Improving Forest Land in Independence Township, Minnesota

John Peterson, along with help from his wife Mary and mother Lorraine, have spent the past 30 years improving their forestland.  The farm has been in the Peterson family since 1899 and is located in Independence Township, near Haughey Lake in Hennepin County.  Peterson’s long love affair with trees and the woods began when he was a child in the 1960s as his family spent a considerable amount of time in the woods cutting firewood and harvesting trees for the mill.

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Pollinator Habitat in Swift County, Minnesota

Pollinator Habitat in Swift County, Minnesota

The work of pollinators has value beyond providing food and resources for people.  Pollinators help keep plant communities healthy and productive.  When the pollinators are lost, bushes and trees may continue to flower and look normal for decades.  By the time someone notices that they are not reproducing, it may be well be too late to reintroduce a pollinator and preserve the ecosystem.

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Barney Rieck, gets assistance from his local NRCS Conservation Office.

Connection to the land leads retiree to the Chisago Conservation Office

For the last 20 years, Barney Rieck  has owned and operated land near Wyoming, Minnesota.  Through conversations with local neighbors he learned that conservation technical assistance was available through the local Chisago Conservation Office.  This office contains the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. 

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Raising a successful cow/calf operation in rural Chippewa County.

Conservation planning leads to conservation application

Don Struxness, beef farmer from Milan, Minnesota knows the importance that water plays in raising a successful cow/calf operation in rural Chippewa County.  In the spring of 2011, Struxness reached out to the local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office at the USDA Service Center in Montevideo, Minnesota.  He was interested in improving his ability to get water to his 50 pair cow/calf operation on a 45 acre rented pasture.

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Kab Npauj Healing Garden

Kab Npauj Healing Garden

On May 17, 2015, approximately 120 local community members and friends attended the ground breaking ceremony for the “Kab Npauj Healing Garden” at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Dorothy Her, host and event organizer served as the moderator for the event. The garden was named after Dorthy Her’s middle name, “Kab Npauj.”  The proper pronunciation is “Ka Bao Healing Garden.”

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Seasonal-High Tunnel_extends growing season

Minnesota Seasonal High Tunnel extends Ag Producer’s growing season

Growing a crop in Minnesota can be a challenge due in part to the unpredictability of the weather. For agricultural producers who make a living growing vegetables timing is everything.  Becca Carlson, owner and operator of SEEDS Farm in rural Northfield, Minnesota knew that she could improve her farming situation by installing a Seasonal high tunnel.

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Success Stories

Grazing, Rice County, Minnesota

Lynne Reeck and Kate Wall bought a farm 15 years ago in Rice County, Minnesota.  It didn’t take them very long to figure out that it’s difficult to grow vegetables on heavy clay soil.   After some discussions with faculty at the University of Minnesota, Technical College in Rochester, MN they decided it was time to pursue other options for their farm.

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Success Stories

Conservation matters in Rice County, Minnesota

Ashley Gallagher, Rice Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) technician and Nicole Schaffer, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil conservationist are committed to serving the public in soil and conservation issues. 

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Sarah and Chloey

Volunteers gain valuable experience at NRCS

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”  For Lindsey Steinwachs, Wetland Specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Fergus Falls, MN, enthusiasm is what makes things happen.

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Beyercrest Farm

Beyercrest Farm Makes Transition to Organic and Grazing

Richard and Sharon Beyer’s herd of Holsteins have an outstanding record of success. As Registered Holstein Breeders, the Beyer family achieved a rolling herd average 30,000 pounds of milk per cow. However, when their son Rory came back to the farm after college and began to participate in management, he recognized that in order to support two families it would be necessary to make some adjustments. After doing some research and visiting with other farmers Rory concluded that a change to organic milk production with forages from pasture providing a majority of feed might help the family meet their goals.

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Sabrina Moore, Earth Team Volunteer

Google search leads to the Earth Team Volunteer Program

Who would have ever thought a simple google search to find out more about volunteering opportunities in Minnesota would lead to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team Volunteer Program (ETV)? This is what happened to Sabrina Moore of Roseville, Minnesota.

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Kate Paul next to pumpkins

EQIP Helps Fulfill Passions and Dreams in the Boondocks for Beginning Farmer

Kate Paul, a beginning farmer, became familiar with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) while starting up her own farm on her family’s land. This led to her wanting to know more about what NRCS had to offer her as a young, beginning farmer. Marge Sella, District Conservationist (DC) for NRCS in Virginia, MN, suggested that Paul work with her on developing a conservation plan for her 120 acre family farm, of which 4 acres are used for vegetable production for her Community Supported Farm.

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Working in the Seasonal High Tunnel

Farming matters on a Few Acres in Minnesota

Uproot Farm is a small vegetable farm just one hour north of the Twin Cities. This farm makes a living on five acres along with selling Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to clients in Minneapolis and Cambridge, MN.

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“Pete Berscheit stands next to one of his cows bale grazing on pasture during 20 below zero weather.

Todd County Beginning Farmer Address Natural Resource Concerns

In 2009, Russell Kleinschmidt, Todd County District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), helped Pete Berscheit make the decision to install a rotational grazing system. Kleinschmidt was able to explain additional benefits of rotational grazing including increased forage health and production. Rotationally grazing improves forage health and production by resting pastures and leaving adequate forage stubble height to allow quicker grass regrowth.

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Todd County Farm

Todd County Breakfast on the Farm

Twin Eagle Dairy in Clarissa, Minnesota, is owned and operated by the Pat and Jody Lunemann family. Their farm served as the host of the Todd County Breakfast on the Farm on July 20. This was an excellent outreach event that attracted over 650 people serving at least 2000 pancakes. Breakfast on the Farm is a wonderful tradition held every summer throughout the state of Minnesota. Rural and urban audiences come together on the farm to learn more about how agriculture impacts everyone!

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Grazing has been a major success in Red lake County, Minnesota.  For more information regarding grazing, please stop by your local NRCS Field Office in Minnesota.

Grazing System Success in Red Lake County, Minnesota

Since 2006, Luther Newton has been serving as the District Conservationist for the Red Lake Falls, Minnesota NRCS Field Office. In this short period of time, Newton has come to appreciate what a difference he can make with farmers in Red Lake County.

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Hennepin County Seasonal High Tunnel.

Hennepin County Seasonal High Tunnel Workshop

Crisp, cool, fall weather in rural Hennepin County did not hamper attendance at the outdoor Hennepin County High Tunnel Workshop on October 4, 2012. Close to 50 participants and speakers attended this hands-on learning opportunity at the Knapton’s Raspberries, Pumpkins and Orchard in Greenfield, MN.

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L-R Joel Holden, Minnesota DNR; Elena Teich, Minnesota DNR; Tami Wenthold, landowner;  Ivan Reinke, NRCS Conservation Technician and Anne Oldakowski, SWCD Forester.

Wadena Field Office Successful in Using EQIP to Improve Its Forestry Resource

In Wadena County, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) has been used successfully to improve its forestry resource. Wadena County applied and received over $230,000 dollars worth of projects to improve its forestry resource. These EQIP dollars are going to accomplish a great deal of forestry application over the next 5 years.

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CITIZEN SUMMIT-WINONA COUNTY

Local Producers Volunteered to Participate in Watershed Citizen Summit-Winona County

Nearly 90 watershed individuals volunteered their time and represented a broad cross section of the Mississippi River-Winona Watershed attended the Watershed Citizen Summit on June 26, 2012 at the Tau Center in Winona. The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for people to discuss concerns and ideas about ways to protect local water quality.

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Loren Muldowney

Earth Team Volunteer Path Led to NRCS Employment

It may have taken 19 years for Loren Muldowney to become a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employee, but in her mind it was worth the wait! Muldowney became employed by NRCS Marshall, Minnesota Area Office in 2011 as a Water Quality Specialist. A career with NRCS is something she had long desired and finally her dream came true!

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Milkapolooza

Milkapolooza

Minnesota NRCS employees recently spent one of their weekends sharing their passion for helping people help the land at Milkapalooza! The outreach event took place on Saturday, June 23 at the Cedar Summit Farms in Scott County, Minnesota. Cedar Summit produces organic milk products for the Twin Cities food market.

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Over 60 women enjoyed a beautiful sunny evening at Hinterland Vineyards, owner Karin Koenen gave tours during the field day.

Wine, Women and Wonderful Local Foods

“Wine, Women and Wonderful Local Foods” was held June 21st at the Community Center in Clara City, Minnesota. This year’s program included many activities such as a matching game about pollinators; local foods and a tour of Hinterland Vineyards. Participants had a chance to tour Hinterland vineyard by cart and learn more about grapes and making wine.

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Rice Lake Boys and Girls Club assist with tree planting

Rice Lake Boys and Girls Club Embrace Natural Resources

Helping people help the land is something that NRCS does on a daily basis. Recently, NRCS expanded its passion for helping others by partnering with the White Earth Natural Resources Department (WENRD) and the Rice Lake Boys and Girls Club.

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NRCS Soil Scientist Jeff Kroll examining soil properties in a backhoe pit in Cook County, MN.

Soil Survey in Lake and Cook Counties

Soil Surveys provide a scientific inventory of one of our most basic and important natural resources, the “soil.” In Minnesota, the Lake and Cook County Soil Survey is moving forward with completing the soil mapping of the private land in these 2 north-eastern Minnesota counties by the fall of 2012. Lake and Cook Counties are situated in the NE tip of Minnesota. The area is comprised of moderately deep coarse, stony soils except for the shoreline of Lake Superior which is predominantly red clay soils.

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Cody uses three - 690 gallon summer tire tanks

Beginning Farmer Equipped with Pasture Paddock

Beginning Farmer, Cody Schmalz farms on 600 acres near Lancaster, Minnesota (Kittson County). Schmalz was born and raised on this farm which is only 1.5 miles from the Canadian border (Manitoba). His passion for farming led him to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to solve his resource concerns.

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SWCD Staff and board members and MnDOT Staff

West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District Recognized for Living Snow Fence Efforts

In December, 2011, the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was recognized for their contributions to protecting Minnesota state highways through the promotion and installation of living snow fences. Living snow fences are trees, shrubs and native grasses located along roads or around communities and farmsteads.

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Johnny and his wife Elizabeth (who is also a firefighter) display dueling chainsaws and a load of firewood

Local Forester Wins Award

Devotion, dedication, and determination sum up Johnny and the reasons he received the 2011 Buzz Ryan Award. To say Johnny is active is an understatement! He focuses energy on representing good stewardship and conservation in both his private and professional lives. Through these efforts, he has touched countless individuals and has made a significant impact on the land of SE MN.

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Betcher Farm

Conservation Practices Credited with “Saving” Goodhue County Farm

The longterm use of conservation practices on the Betcher farm made the step into the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), first introduced in 2005, easy. He heard about it at a local town hall informational meeting. He made a CSP application and it ranked high enough for the farm to be enrolled in two contracts; one for his agricultural land the other for the woodland.

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Restored WRP wetlands

Making a Difference with Wetland Restoration

Who would have ever guessed that Harlen Hendrickson would be passionate about wetlands, wetland restoration and wildlife? Several years ago, Hendrickson was injured in a work-related accident. He reached a point where he had to figure out what he was going to do for the rest of his life. Then, a postcard arrived at his mailbox in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The rest is what can be referred to as a dynamic change of passion for Hendrickson’s direction in life.

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Wild Rice in Floating Leaf Stage on Perch Lake

Fond du Lac Water Management Project – Carlton County, Minnesota

The Fond du Lac Water Management Project was a cooperative effort of the Fond du Lac (FDL) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Minnesota USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to conduct a hydrologic assessment of the Stoney Brook watershed. The assessment included recommendations for optimizing water levels for wild rice production on Reservation lakes.

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Ring Dike Construction

Ring Dike Offers Protection to Liedberg Farmstead

The Fond du Lac Water Management Project was a cooperative effort of the Fond du Lac (FDL) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Minnesota USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to conduct a hydrologic assessment of the Stoney Brook watershed. The assessment included recommendations for optimizing water levels for wild rice production on Reservation lakes.

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Terrace in Nobles county Minnesota.

Nobles County Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) Success Story

Across the great state of Minnesota, our farmland owners and operators face the challenge of making a living from the land, while protecting our natural resources. The key to meeting this challenge is in successfully developing a plan for managing all of the farm’s resources. To this end, NRCS has a program that can ably assist these owners and operators on solving their resource concerns, namely the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) Program.

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