Supervisors and guests from all 92 Indiana local soil and water conservation districts are expected in Indianapolis next week for the annual Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Conference. More than 500 people are expected to register for the event. It will be held in downtown Indianapolis at the Marriott Hotel.
The program begins Jan. 10 and concludes Jan. 12. Highlights include 16 hands-on training sessions slated to be held between Monday and Tuesday. Many of these sessions address topics that would be applicable to anyone interested in no-till and reduced-tillage farming. Some are geared toward helping supervisors do a better job of fulfilling their roles in their home district.
District SWCDS are organized by counties. Each district consists of five supervisors, three elected and two appointed. Many are farmers, but some are not. The goal is to attract supervisors interested in devoting time to promoting soil conservation in their local community.
The event will also feature a conservation trade show on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. An annual highlight is the legislative breakfast on Wednesday morning, Jan. 12. Typically a number of legislators attend. The IASWCD has a history of working with the legislature, dating back to creation of T by 2000, the first state-funded soil conservation program, in 1986. Lt. Governor Becky Skillman is scheduled to speak at the breakfast.
A business session follows on Wednesday before adjournment. Officers will be elected. Each SWCD is allowed to have one delegate on the floor for voting.
Perhaps the biggest highlight is the annual awards banquet on Tuesday evening, Feb. 11. A number of employees who work for conservation districts, friends of conservation, outstanding conservation farmers, and outstanding supervisors will be recognized for their efforts.
Indiana Prairie Farmer will be the sole sponsor of a relatively new award, the Outstanding Supervisor of the Year. In former years, the magazine sponsored the Master Conservationist award. About 100 conservation-minded farmers and landowners who devoted their careers to protecting resources on their land were recognized through the program. Many had not been recognized before.
The program was discontinued last year. The Conservation Farmer of the Year award, sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau, continues. Master Conservationists tended to be career conservation farmers or landowners who had practiced conservation over decades. Conservation Farmers of the Year include both career conservationists and those who have turned to conservation practices more recently.
The Supervisor of the Year recipient is a surprise announced at the banquet. Look for coverage of the winner here and in print after the conference.
For details, call 317-431-6098 or visit the IASWCD Website at: www.iaswcd.org.