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Success Stories


Shaw Timber Trail

Broad-Based Dips Hold Up to Forest Trail Traffic, and More

Walking along the forest trail on Steve Shaw’s Ozark County property, it’s not easy to spot the gentle, broad-based dips constructed to protect the trail from storm water rushing down the hill. But Shaw and the conservationists who were instrumental in getting the dips installed say it would have been obvious if the erosion-control measures had not been there.

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Grazing Goats

Invasive Woodland Growth No Match for Grazing Goats

Jerad and Emily Cummins and their young children found the herd of goats that inhabited the woods at their Ray County home near Lawson to be quite entertaining. The goats weren’t there for their entertainment value, though; they had a big job to do devouring invasive understory brush.  

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meeting with landowner

Missouri Earth Team Volunteer Transitions to Soil Conservationist

When Brittanie DeAngelo began her college career at Missouri State in 2012, she was certain that her future would include a career in animal science.  But, like many students, her first choice in major didn’t end up as her final choice.    

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SCAN Site at Elsberry, MO

SCAN Sites Provide Much More Than Just Temperature Readings

If you’ve ever wondered what the air temperature was in your part of Missouri, or perhaps which direction the wind was blowing, or maybe you were curious what the soil temperature was 40 inches beneath your feet, wonder no more.  

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Chao and Toua Yang

USDA StrikeForce Funding Boosts Farm Profits in Low-Income Counties

Toua Yang and his wife Chao love the sounds of silence coming from the heaters in the poultry barns on their southwestern Missouri farm. And because of energy-saving improvements made possible from USDA funding that targets lower-income counties, their heaters are running a lot less frequently.

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Richland High Tunnel

Community Action Group Looks to High Tunnel for Added Nutrition

A non-profit community action group in the Ozarks region of Missouri combined volunteer efforts with donations from local businesses and $6,000 from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to construct a seasonal high tunnel at its community garden. A high tunnel is like a green house, with the main difference being that vegetables are planted in the ground inside a high tunnel, not in pots on tables.

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Amy and Michael with Buffalo

NRCS Helps Buffalo Ranchers Establish ‘Rotational Roaming’

Michael and Amy Billings know where THEIR buffalo roam.  They control it, too, thanks in part to assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which worked with them to design and partially fund a rotational grazing system at their farm and event venue near the boundary of Johnson and Cass counties. 

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Grazing System Something to Hoot About

Missouri Farmers Grazing System is Something to Hoot About

Warren County farmers Ben and David Avis went to NRCS in 2001 looking for advice about how they could improve their pastures. What they discovered was that the rotational-grazing system they built over the last 15 years benefits more than just cattle.

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Nelson Hostetler (right) and NRCS engineer Michael Malone discuss the effectiveness of the new syste

Missouri Dairyman Benefits From Happy, Healthy Cows

Polk County dairy farmer Nelson Hostetler can think of a ton of reasons to like his new confined dairy shed and animal waste system.

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John John in the forest

NRCS Helps Forest Land Owner Return Family Property to Natural State

Thanks to financial and technical assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), John John can finally see his forest through the trees.

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David Panahi displays a honeycomb.



A Beekeeper's Dream: From Iran to Missouri

The closing days of World War II brought sleepless nights to David Panahi, a young Iranian living near the border of Russia.  During peaceful daylight hours, Panahi and his brother crossed to the countryside and watched Russian farmers tend their beehives. 


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Craig Wilkerson in his field

Cover Crops Help Farmer Transition from Days as a ‘Bouncer’

Craig Wilkerson remembers all too well his days as a “bouncer” that led to him seeking cover – as in cover crops.


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Randy Mauldin with Sheep

Retired Air Force Officer Protects Natural Resources on Missouri Farm

Having served 26-and-a-half years in the U.S. Air Force, retired Colonel Randy Mauldin and his wife Beth moved to Greene County and began farming sheep on their Fair Earth Farm. 

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Theresa Lackey and District Conservationist Tony Hoover look over Lackey's Conservation Plan.

Conservation Plans Keep Land-Use Goals on Track

Theresa Lackey says she had a general idea about the improvements she wanted to make to the 32 acres of mostly overgrown woods around her home. But she credits a conservation plan that she developed with assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for helping turn her goals into reality. 

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Kao Her in his poultry barn

Hmong Poultry Farmer Works with NRCS To Expand and Enhance Operation

Kao Her is a self-taught poultry farmer.  Everything he knows about poultry farming he learned in two weeks with the farm's previous owner and nine years of on the job trial-and-error. 

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David Backus in his high tunnel

Missouri Gardener Enjoys Fresh High Tunnel Produce

David Backus is reminded of the benefits of the seasonal high tunnel on his property in southeastern Missouri at nearly every meal - and sometimes between meals. 

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Seeding at Jefferson Barracks

NRCS, National Cemetery Association Collaborate at Jefferson Barracks

On a day where caretakers dutifully trim the grass and care for the approximately 200,000 headstones marking the final resting place of veterans and their families, three plant specialists with the USDA’s NRCS begin work in the southeast portion of the national cemetery.

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Curtis Milsap in his Chinese High Tunnel

Chinese High Tunnel Part of Innovation at Missouri Teach Farm

Curtis Millsap estimates that he and his family, and a crew of interns, feed about 200 families on 2.5 acres of his 20-acre farm near Springfield. While another seven acres of the farm sometimes includes sheep, poultry and cattle, it’s the vegetable operation that supports Millsap, his wife Sarah and their nine young children. Millsap utilizes two greenhouses and three seasonal high tunnels to grow produce year-round, which he sells through the Farmers Market of the Ozarks and to 75-100 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) customers.

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Alex and Jennifer Menzel

Beginning Ranchers Recognize Benefits of Rotational Grazing

A 10-acre homestead near Raymore, where Jennifer and Alex Menzel live with their three young daughters – Emma, Ella and Eva – wasn’t enough to calm the farming urges of this couple. So in 2009 Alex and Jennifer purchased the first 160 acres of their farm northwest of Archie.

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John Heckmann

Tree Farmer Turns Old Farmstead into Showcase

Back in 1993, when John Heckmann and his family purchased the first half of their 800-acre farm near Hermann, few would have guessed that it one day would be used as a showcase. But on June 2 it will be the site of the annual Missouri Tree Farm Conference, and Heckmann will be recognized as the Tree Farmer of the Year.


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Carl Saunders inside his high tunnel.

Missouri Farmer Realizes High Rewards From High Tunnels

Back in 1995, Carl Saunders wouldn’t have guessed that he someday would be earning a living from the four acres surrounding his home near Warrenton, Missouri.

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Sarah Szachnieski, Bob Ridgley and Tammy Teeter

High Hill Farmer, Conservationist Knows Value of Environmental Programs

Bob Ridgley kneels in a sea of green cover crops and performs some mind mathematics. Some of the people in the group visiting his farm that day are not as well versed in livestock economics or math, so they just nod in agreement when Ridgley says the 32-acre paddock of forage radishes, forage turnips, cereal rye and cereal oats will feed 120 head of cattle for about $64 per day for a couple weeks in the fall and about a month in the spring, and that’s not bad.

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Ann Whitehead

Conservation Programs Help Woman Rancher Realize a Dream

When Ann Whitehead acquired 100 acres of agricultural land near Wellsville, it gave her the opportunity to fulfill her dream of raising cattle. Since then she has been taking advantage of technical and financial assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to ensure that the land will be productive for future generations of people who might share her dream.

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NRCS Initiative Helps Stabilize Gasconade County Streambank.

NRCS Initiative Helps Stabilize Gasconade County Streambank

Stanley Shoemaker watched the Bourbeuse River cut about 50 feet into the lower field of his Gasconade County farm during the 20 years that he has owned the farm. The streambank erosion bothered him, but he didn’t know how to affordably stop it.

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Dave Skaer, Area Resource Soil Scientist) and Jim Hoene

Jim Hoene Improves Farming Operation Systematically with Conservation Practices

Jim Hoene stood in a large equipment shed on the Jefferson County property along the Big River that he has been farming for 30 years. Torrents of rain beating on the tin roof caused him to speak loudly to be heard above the roar. A few years earlier in a similar situation he might have expressed concern about getting his crops in, and keeping those already planted from washing away. But he wasn’t worried this year.

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Ron McBee (left) and Resource Conservationist Tim Viertel (right)

Rotational Grazing Proves Successful for Fence Installer

Three decades ago, a livestock fence installer from central Missouri met with some farmers from New Zealand.  Ideas were exchanged and now the fencer is a full-time rancher with 27 miles of fence dividing his Braunvieh cattle into paddocks for a successful rotational grazing system.

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Sarah Hoffman and Curt Walker

Green Dirt Farm: Sheep Help Protect the Land

Military families know the drill.  At the end of three or four years in one location, it's time to pack up the house and move on to another destination.  Each move brings new opportunities, people to meet and places to discover.  For Sarah Hoffman, founder of Green Dirt Farm, one constant in her life remained the same no matter the location: there was always a family farm to attend to.

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Jim Prouhet

High Tunnels Help People Know Their Farmer, Know Their Food

The fancy door on Jim Prouphet's seasonal high tunnel wasn't included in the kit he purchased with funding he received from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  But, he does credit NRCS for helping him afford the rest of the structure that allows him an earlier start to his supplemental, subscription-farming business that supplies fresh produce to St. Louis-area families.

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Fred Martz of Columbia utilizes rotational grazing on his land.

Missouri Farmer Finds Rotational Grazing the Natural Choice

After more than 50 years of agricultural teaching and research, Fred Martz retired in 1997 and now focuses on a business he enjoyed all his life, farming.  With 450 acres located on the outskirts of northeastern Columbia, Martz assists his son, Kevin, in tending to 150 cattle, 24 ewes, 50 lambs, 100 hens and one protective llama on a daily basis. 

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Edge-of-Field Monitoring System

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI) Edge-Of-Field Monitoring Designed in Missouri

Missouri's edge-of-field monitoring system, now utilized by several states participating in the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), is in place and capturing data on approximately 200 acres of resource-rich land in Missouri.

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John Rice

Opting For Organic

After 30 years of conventional farming, landowner John Rice of Tebbetts, Mo., opted to try his hand at an organic operation.  Today, Rice sells organic meat and eggs to vendors around the state.

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Elk River after EWP assistance.

Stream Projects Benefits Thousands in Southwestern Missouri

They may not know it, but each day passengers in the 2,000 cars that travel Highway H about two miles west of Pineville benefit from a USDA program that reduces risks to life and property.

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Bill and Helen White

NRCS Program Protects Prairies Perpetually

There won’t ever be a little house or anything else on Bill and Helen White’s prairie.

The Whites worked with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to place 118 acres of native prairie near Mount Vernon in a permanent easement under NRCS’ Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). In exchange for the easement, the Whites receive $1,125 per acre and retain ownership and use of the land.

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Marlin Meyer

EQIP Helps Hog Farmer Improve Efficiency of Animal Waste Handling

The improvements Marlin Meyer made to his Nodaway County hog operation weren’t to keep up with what the neighbors were doing. That’s because Meyer’s 600-sow farm at Ravenwood is the last sizable hog farm in the county.


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Former DC Jack Lewis, Pemiscot County Presiding Commissioner James Atchison, and Area Biologist Joe Tousignant

Conservation Efforts, Cooperation Save Vulnerable Mussels

What are the odds of a Giant Floater stopping a multi-ton piece of dredging equipment in its tracks?


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Hosea and Debbie Lawrence at a glade restoration on their acreage in Ozark County.

NRCS Program Helps Landowners "WHIP" Land Back to Natural State

When Hosea and Debbie Lawrence started clearing cedar trees from their 275 forested acres near Theodosia in Ozark County, the neighbors wondered what was going on.

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Joining efforts to build the bee population and crop production in Nodaway County are (from left) Kevin Helzer, Byron Miller, Mike Burch and Ray Werner.

Group Campaigns for More Bees in Northwestern Missouri

Byron Miller may be retired from a 30-year career as a teacher and principal in Nodaway County, but he’s still educating. These days he uses his skills to spread what he believes is an important message: bounty begins with a bee.

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Nancy deBodgen’s straw-bale house under construction

RC&D Grant Program Promotes Affordable, Efficient Straw-Bale Houses

The “Big Bad Wolf” jokes don’t bother the 10 people in the southern Missouri counties served by the Top of the Ozarks Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) office who received grants to construct straw-bale houses.

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Anthony, left, and Tom Westhues in one of their fields of no-till corn in summer 2008.

Howard County Brothers Happy With Switch to No-Till

Anthony and Tom Westhues weren't very pleased in 2006 when they received a letter from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). It informed them that a conservation compliance review of their farm near Glasgow revealed an excessive rate of soil erosion. The Westhues brothers were told that, by law, they would need to come up with a new plan to reduce erosion if they wanted to continue participating in USDA programs.

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Shirley and Lawrence Buchheit enjoy planting riparian forest buffers on their property near Perryville.

Missouri Landowner Likes Riparian Forest Buffer Trees

After spending 29 years in a forest-fire lookout tower, it would have been understandable if Lawrence Buchheit preferred seeing fewer trees after retiring in 2001 from his career with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But Buchheit keeps planting more trees.

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Raymond McNeall on his repaired levee in Chariton County

Farmer Happy to Tell "Hole" Story About NRCS Assistance

Chariton County farmer Raymond McNeall is happy that the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program helped him repair a 150-foot hole in his levee along the Chariton River so quickly.

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