Last week, at the Illinois State Fair’s Ag Day, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance named its 2012 Conservation Stewardship Program award winners.
Harold Wilken, of Danforth, received the Conservation Stewardship Program 2012 Farmer of the Year Award, and Eric McTaggart, of Pontiac, received the Conservation Stewardship Program 2012 District Conservationist of the Year Award.
Wilken operates a 1,000 acre organic farm that mainly grows corn, soybeans and wheat. He uses cover crops, stream buffers and other conservation practices to keep his soil healthy and productive. Wilken's use of these practices not only helps him survive extreme weather, like the current drought, better than others, but helps those downstream by preventing excess fertilizer runoff.
McTaggart is the National Resources Conservation Service district conservationist for Ford and Livingston counties. In his position, McTaggart works with farmers in Ford and Livingston counties to implement CSP and works tirelessly to promote conservation practices.
"The awards are a public recognition of Harold's and Eric's dedication to conservation practices. Their efforts not only protect the welfare of farms in Illinois, but create a healthier environment throughout the state and country," says Lindsay Record, executive director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. "We hope others use the examples set by Harold and Eric to take advantage of all the Conservation Stewardship Program has to offer."
The Conservation Stewardship Program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture through the National Resources Conservation Service. It offers farmers already using some conservation techniques up to $40,000 a year and technical assistance to implement even more conservation practices on working farms.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a nonprofit that promotes environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just local food systems through policy development, advocacy and education.