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Mr. Soil Saver

Troy Hattery doesn’t think he does anything special. He just does what comes naturally — farming and serving as a Miami County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor, hoping to conserve resources not only on his own farm, but also in his county and community.

Others disagree. Many think he goes above and beyond the call of duty. That’s why Hattery was named the Supervisor of the Year for 2011 by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts earlier this year. The Supervisor of the Year award was sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer.

Key Points

Hattery recognized for doing what comes naturally to him.

Helping to earn watershed grant was a key accomplishment.

Taking time to educate children pays dividends later.


Hattery farms with his brother, Kendel. Most of the land they farm is no-tilled. Off the farm, he’s served as a district supervisor for 16 years.

“We were becoming involved in no-till at the time,” Hattery recalls. “It was a fairly new practice around here back then. Someone was leaving the board of supervisors, and they needed a couple to go on, and I agreed to do it.”

Open doors

Rick Duff, the district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service who serves Miami County, says Hattery was instrumental in opening doors to contacts and networking with those contacts at Manchester College. The process was instrumental in helping develop a plan and obtain a grant for a watershed project in the area.

Meanwhile, his contributions to the district and community spread out into several other areas, Duff notes. For example, he serves as the coordinator for the district’s aerial cover crop seeding program.

County budgets are a big deal in these difficult times, especially for local groups like soil and water conservation districts that depend partially upon some county support — often for one or more district employees to either staff the office, serve as an educational coordinator, do technical planning, or all three. The employee structure and degree of support varies from district to district. Hattery quickly learned the ins and outs of working through county budgets and getting as much support for the district as possible.

Educational effort

One program dear to Hattery’s heart is the Ag Day educational program, geared specifically for all county fourth-graders. Students from each school in the county attend, totaling about 500 children per year. The program consists of 16 stops and is heavily influenced by the mission of introducing these kids to the basics of soil conservation and good forestry practices.

“I usually have our tractor, planter and combine in there and have 10 minutes with each group to try to tell them what we do on the farm,” he explains. “We can only hit the high spots, but I try to emphasize what the true cost involved in farming is today.”

“It’s interesting to observe what happens at the program,” Duff says. “There are usually three to four adult chaperones with each group, and you soon realize they’re learning as much as the kids.”

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Dedicated supervisor: Whether he’s baling hay for cattle or teaching fourth-graders, Troy Hattery tries to protect resources and promote the conservation ethic.

This article published in the May, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.