You don't have the national president of a major ag organization in your state every year. Indiana has had its share. Currently, Gene Schmidt, Hanna, is completing his second year as president of the National Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. He will remain president until his term expires early next year.
Gene just didn't show up one day and become elected to this important post. His conservation roots run deep, and he began by becoming active in the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District. He is still active in the local district today, as time permits. Even though he serves at a national level at the moment, he believes it's important to help out in the local community as well.
Early in my career I was active in holding positions in soil conservation as well, serving as an area president one year and on several state committees. That's where I first met Gene, in the late 1980's, and soon recognized that the was a square shooter- a hard worker and a person with a passion for family, the Lord, farming and conservation, not necessarily in that order.
In the early '90s when Goodyear still took conservation folk form each state to Arizona each year, both I and Gene and his wife, Diane, were lucky enough to go on the trip the same year. Besides getting a glimpse of soil conservation issues in the far west, and how they differ from conservation issues here, it was also a chance to get better acquainted with Gene and his wife. They're genuine, conservation-minded, family-minded farm people.
It was no surprise that Gene was elected president of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and served as president for two years in the mid '90s. All of this training and development of leadership skills has made him an effective leader on the national level today.
Good luck, Gene, as you finish this important task this year.