Recognition of individuals for conservation efforts through education and/or stewardship in farming operations were just a part of the annual Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District annual meeting.
The meeting was held Tuesday evening at The Depot in Pierceton with approximately 120 people in attendance.
Jason Kissel, executive director of Acres Land Trust, was the keynote speaker and presented “Little Known Nature.” His talk focused on unusual and fascinating findings in the area and state. Those included Foxfire fungus, fresh water jelly fish, the American badger, paddle fish, wood frogs, flying squirrels, some of the 43 native orchids in the state, rattlesnakes, Jack and Jill in the Pulpits, pileated woodpeckers, blue ash trees, Luna moths, fairy shrimp and the newest and increasing sightings – the cougar.
Kissel noted these are all found on many of the nature preserves owned by Acres, including the three in Kosciusko County. Brief explanations of each were given by Kissel including the best times and locations to find the unusual and unique creatures.
Kissel also pointed out there are three nature preserves in Kosciusko County – Wildwood, Bock and Glenwood – with additional preserve acquisitions in the process.
Another part of the evening’s events was a presentation by Darci Zollman, who presented a year in review. More details of the highlights were included in the Jan. 30, SWCD report.
The highlights included watershed based projects such as the Eel River projects through the Mississippi River Basin Initiative and EPA 319 Grant, which began in 2010 spending $146,936 in 2010, $803,900 in 2011 and $1.9 million in 2012 on projects. She also noted the Great Lakes Restoration Elkhart River Work in 2011 spent $397,000 in conservation efforts in the Dewart Lake and Wawasee watershed. Another grant through Clean Water Indiana grants which funded water quality projects.
She touched on the workshops held, educational programs and the number of students reached in the various programs as well as the adult programs. The upcoming tree sale program was noted and various means to get involved.
Awards were also presented to Wawasee FFA Soils Judging team, which received the Soil Judging Team Award; Darrel Byer and Randy Beer, River Friendly Farmer awards; Sam St. Clair and Sherm Bryant, Distinguished Service awards; Monica Grubbs, Jackie Horn, Carole Koos, Linda Tannas and Paul Sibray, Environmental Education awards; Bill and Becky Thomas, Environmental Enhancement Award; Hubert and Beth Krull, Master Conservation Farmer Award; and A.J. Brown and Sons Farms, the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award.
The evening additionally included the appointment of one supervisor on the conservation board, and election of one supervisor. The board is comprised of two appointed supervisors and three elected. Jon Roberts was sworn in as an appointed supervisor. Eligible voters present elected Stan Moore as an elected supervisor. Mike Pyle was also seeking the elected position. Ron Truex, county commissioner, swore in the two supervisors.