With the national Soil and Water Soil Stewardship program holding its official week next week, it's a good time to nominate someone in your community in Indiana as a River Friendly Farmer. Recipients receive a large sign form dignitaries such as Lt. Governor Skillman and Don Villwock at the Indiana State Fair in August. We have seen these signs proudly displayed on barns and near mailboxes on their own posts all over the state.
To make a nomination, contact your local soil and water conservation district. Nominations are actually made through the district. They can explain the rules and official nomination procedure. The deadline to nominate someone for the program this year is June 27.
The award began as a way to recognize Hoosier farmers and landowners who use conservation practices in an environmentally and economically sound way. The goal is to recognize people who are dedicated to improving and protecting Indiana's soil and water resources for now and for future generation.
Ray McCormick, Vincennes, current President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, says 600 farmers have been recognized in the program so far. It began in 2000. McCormick is also a past Master Farmer through the Indiana Prairie Farmer and Purdue University College of Agriculture Master Farmer program. McCormick also received the River Friendly Farmer award in the past. He is an avid supporter of conservation on his farm, and also goes the extra mile to promote wildlife and waterfowl habitat on much of his bottomland soils in Knox County. He was also instrumental behind the scenes in seeing that the famous Goose Pond in Greene County became a large federal wetlands project and is now preserved as such.
Remember to contact your local SWCD to nominate someone. If you don't take advantage of this opportunity, someone who needs a pat on the back might go unnoticed. Who knows- a pat on the back might encourage them to become even more dedicated to the mission of protecting soil and water conservation resources on their farm.