The impact of grassroots (locally-led) conservation efforts was felt in Columbus last week as representatives from Guernsey SWCD and others across the state participated in the 70th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The meeting, “70 Years of Conservation: Events that Shaped Our Lives,” took place at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel and included more than 400 conservation leaders representing Ohio’s 88 SWCDs, state and federal agency partners, education and business leaders, and many more. The event provided networking, training opportunities, and informational briefings covering a diverse array of conservation issues, programs and required training for the locally elected officials. Awards were also provided to a diverse array of individuals including the State’s Conservation Cooperator of the Year, two Educator Awards, a SWCD Supervisor and Staff Member of the Year, and two individuals were inducted into the OFSWCD Supervisors Hall of Fame. Participants also met with lawmakers during a legislative reception to share local conservation successes and challenges, as well as to discuss the state budget.
Leaders heard Purdue University Department of History’s Dr. R. Douglas Hurt who shared the history of the Dust Bowl; Author Trudy E. Bell, who discussed the history of the Great 1913 flood and the potential for flooding issues in the future; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Regional Conservationist Richard Sims, who discussed federal issues including the Farm Bill and Sequestration issues; and a panel discussion on state issues and challenges highlighted by state agency directors: ODNR Director Jim Zehringer, ODA Director David Daniels, and OEPA Director Scott Nally.
Chairman Bill Bertram, Vice-chair Ken Ford, and board members Myron Dellinger and Steve Douglass represented the Guernsey SWCD at the event. “Our time in Columbus was well-spent,” Bertram said. “This is an event to further prepare and equip Ohio’s 88 county soil and water conservation districts to deliver effective and efficient conservation programs and practices to Ohio’s citizens.” All three district employees; Lisa Rodenfels, Program Administrator, Joe Lehman, Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, and Jason Tyrell, Technician attended the event as well.
The conference provided district board members and employees an opportunity to interact with key decision-makers and to share or learn more about new programs that could strengthen and help shape conservation policy for private, working lands.
“Our winter meeting is critical for supervisors, staff and partners,” said OFSWCD President Joe Glassmeyer. “Our conference engages Ohio’s conservation leaders and trains these individuals to get the job done right – delivering critical conservation programs and sharing practices that promote healthy soils, water quality, food development, energy production, and so much more. We were pleased with the turnout and with the enthusiastic participation from our Districts.”