The Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to announce our 2020 Annual Meeting is officially set for Saturday, February 29th at the Fourwinds Resort on Lake Monroe! The meeting will start with a full breakfast buffet at 9AM, and wrap up around 12PM.
The core purpose of the annual meeting is to facilitate elections for district board members, release an annual report of completed projects, and to celebrate local conservation efforts. We want you to be a part of the meeting too, so we'll also be seeking suggestions for the upcoming year and handing out door prizes!
Finally, we are very excited to announce our keynote speaker for this year will be Stephen Ball, State Archeologist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Stephen Ball has been a professional archeologist working in Indiana for over 30 years, having received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1999. Stephen will go over the design and history of barns for our meeting this year.
You can reserve your spot at this year's meeting here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/85517891315
We hope to see you there!
We're proud to announce that our own district manager, Martha Miller, will be the 2020 president of the Indiana District Employees Association!
The purpose of the Indiana District Employees Association - or IDEA - is to strengthen the Indiana Soil and water Conservation Districts and empower district employees. That's a mission that Martha is more than ready to take on.
Martha has been a district employee for about 17 years, and has seen firsthand how much work goes into operating a district office. A typical office only has 1-2 employees, forcing them to wear a lot of hats on the job: Manager, Administrator, Bookkeeper, Event planner, Conservation Planner, etc. Most of this work is done behind the scenes, making it easy to go unnoticed and under appreciated.
As Martha herself puts it: "The SWCD employees really are doing a lot of work and make a big difference. It' just that they're a very small part of a bigger plan for conservation."
Martha views this new position as her opportunity to offer support to other district employees and make sure that no one feels overwhelmed or alone in their districts. That means making sure that everyone feels like they are seen and that their contributions are being recognized.
"I would like to think that in 2020 we would be able to move the organization forward in such a way that employees feel their voices being heard."
Conservation is the ultimate goal of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the employees make that goal achievable. As President of IDEA, Martha wants to make sure that every employee is able to get the support they need to be the best stewards of conservation they can be.
We hope you'll join us in Congratulating Martha in her new role this upcoming year!
As fall continues to fade away, we're about to turn the corner into the holiday season! Here at the MCSWCD, we have a long list of things to be thankful for this year.
First, we're thankful for our community and the incredible effort being made toward conservation here. This topic is fresh in our minds, as we just finished wrapping up our Soil-Health mini-series to celebrate soil conservation in southern Indiana. Three sessions were delivered to help residents understand their soil, keep it healthy, and use it to grow successfully. Thank you to everyone who contributed and joined us for the series!
(To make sure you don't miss out on local events, be sure to check our events page (here) regularly!)
We're not the only ones grateful for conservation this year though; the USDA is hosting "No-Till November" again, by popular demand! No-till November is a campaign from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to discourage fall tilling. Instead, you should keep the stubble in your fields. This is great for the soil for many reasons:
Practices like no-till are examples of how America's farmers are on the front lines of soil conservation. Soil health is essential to our health because everything we eat, including that big Thanksgiving Turkey, starts with healthy soil. That's why we should all be thankful for farmers this year!
Finally, we have to give thanks to YOU too! We're grateful to everyone who joined us this month to learn about soil, to everyone who is dedicated to conservation efforts, and to our local supporters as well!
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Fall is already in the air, and to celebrate we've been out in the community with some of our favorite annual events!
At the Detmer Gardens Open House, we enjoyed educating attendees about soil health and composting, while also spending some time with our partners. The Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District worked with the County's Parks and Recreation Department and the Purdue Cooperative Extension for the event. If you missed it this year, don't worry! We hope to make it an annual event around the beginning of fall each year.
Following the Gardens Open House, we quickly started preparing for one of the biggest fall events in the county - the Children's Farm Festival! The Children's Farm Festival is held every year at the Peden Family Farm and is packed with fun events. This year our friends at the NRCS joined us with their Soil Health Trailer to put on even more demonstrations for the kids. We believe there's no better way to learn than by experience - and by getting your hands dirty!
We're so grateful for everyone that joined us at our September events, and we can't wait to see what October brings!
Today we give it the recognition it deserves.
By Becca Vaughn
For those working with soil on a day-to-day basis, its importance is never overlooked. For those of us outside of the business, it’s easy to underestimate the power and value of what is beneath our feet.
In third grade, my class learned about plants and the nutrients soil gives them. Each of the children planted sweet peas in a small container to put in the window sill. We labeled them with our names and took time out of class to water and care for our plants. Near the end of the school year, we took them home as Mother’s Day gifts. At home, my mom propped mine up in the window above the kitchen sink and it died approximately two weeks later. That was the first of many plants I would throw away. This year, I dumped the two tomato plants, two strawberry plants, rosemary, parsley, and the oregano I had attempted to grow. Even my cactus died.
But you don’t have to plant a garden or even go outside to have a connection with soil. I have learned quite a few things since beginning my internship here at the Conservation District and one of the most fascinating is that everything—like, everything—we do is because of soil.
Maybe you are one of the 64% of Americans that had a cup of coffee this morning. But long before that coffee ends up in your mug, it’s being examined by soil scientists to help coffee bean farmers produce an efficient supply while protecting the health of the soil on which they (and my ability to get seemingly anything done in a day) rely. For many farmers—both in and outside of the coffee business—this focus on soil health is new, which is why organizations like ours and many, many others around the world exist to provide public education on how to improve soil and, in turn, our food and living conditions in the long run.
Or, maybe you skipped that morning coffee but had some eggs for breakfast. Or a bowl of cereal. Again, you can thank soil for that. Soil contains the vital nutrients for plant growth that result in both the crops we eat (fruits, vegetables, and grains) as well as the crops we feed animals to get our meat, dairy, and eggs. In fact, every meal you eat is thanks to soil and good soil health, since 95% of our food in the world comes from soil.
Soil is also key to addressing the changing climate and mitigating the damages expected to be seen in the upcoming decades. Many of the conservation practices funded through grants or assisted in through site visits with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are focused on increasing carbon and creating landscapes that will help farmers in the long run combat these changes and, therefore, continue ample production. “Practices such as cover crops and reduced/no tillage increase the carbon content of soils, increase water and nutrient retention, water infiltration, rooting depth, microbial activity, and decrease erosion” (NRCS). These are conservation practices that help the soil system and give back to not only our planet, but to ourselves and our children.
If there’s one overarching theme I’ve learned in the last few months, it is that it’s all a system working together. We covered that in my third grade class, too. But, it didn’t really sink in until I watched the seasons change not from the window of my apartment, but from the fields here in Monroe County.
Thanksgiving. A holiday that is perhaps best known for eating, drinking, and spending time with family. But here at the Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District, we recognize the work and traditions that go into making that delicious feast that so many Americans give thanks over. From the farm to the table, Thanksgiving day meals are made possible by the farmers and producers across the nation to raise that turkey or grow the pumpkins to make a traditional pie.