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Monroeville native featured at SWCD banquet

By ELLEN SIMMONS • Dec 10, 2018 at 8:00 AM

It was like coming full circle for Monroeville-native Kurt Simon, who was the featured speaker for the 73rd annual Huron Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) meeting and banquet Saturday.

“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here where I started,” Simon said in his opening comments for the even, which took place in the Expo Building in the Huron County Fairgrounds. 

He praised his former FFA adviser, Gary Bauer, who was in the audience and called him, “an amazing teacher.”

Simon now serves as Iowa’s State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and has been with the USDA in some capacity for the past 35 years.

With a degree in wildlife management from Hocking College and agronomy from The Ohio State University, he completed graduate studies in the Emerging Leadership Development Program through George Washington University. From there, Simon’s job has taken many places.

After saying his USDA work has taken him to 43 states, Simon shared some of his experiences with farmers around the country. He has testified before Congress and met and worked with many of the movers and shakers in the world of agriculture.

“How in the world did I end up in this position? It’s been a humbling and incredible experience,” he said.

The event also put the spot light on the local students who are working on becoming the future’s movers and shakers in the industry.  

Chad Stang, SWCD manager, presented several awards to such community members, including Madeline Bauer and Elizabeth Harper. Both Bauer and Harper received of the annual SWCD Memorial Scholarship in honor of Carol Proctor, Chase Heyman and Lee Buckingham.

Bauer, of Willard, is a senior majoring in agricultural communication at The Ohio State University. Harper, a  Bellevue native, is a junior at North Carolina State University majoring in poultry science.

The local high school agriculture clubs — FFA —weren’t left out in the awards.

Each year SWCD sponsors the local FFA Rural and Urban Soils Judging contests. The Monroeville FFA, whose adviser is Scott Bauer, won both contests. Julie Fries accepted the rural award for herself and other team members Ethan David, Garrison Hohler, Ethan Kluding, Allison Martin, Kadon Martin, Grant Opper and Eli Ott.

Mason Kluding accepted the accolades for the urban team of Hunter Appeman, Isaiah Fowler, Clay Krueger, Chris Latteman, Aiden, Lexy and Macy Schafer and himself.

The SWCD sponsors the FFA Conservation booths at the county fair and six chapters participated this year. The first-place booth was created by the New London FFA with a theme of Algae Bloom. Emily Stevens accepted the club’s award.

Ava Boster won the second-grade Arbor Day Poster Contest themed, “Watersheds, Our Water, Our Home.” In her honor an Autumn Blaze maple tree was planted in her schoolyard at Bellevue Elementary.

Each of the 809 students involved in the Arbor Day program received a Red Bud seedling, paid for with a $1,000 Walmart Community grant. Members of the Huron County Master Gardeners helped in the classroom presentations.

The Friend of Conservation Award went to both the Huron County Board of Developmental Disability and Community, Life & Innovation (CLI, Inc.) for assisting with the 2018 Fall Fun Fest. Julie Tyler accepted in behalf of the Board of DD and John Swartz for CLI.

The final award went to Shawna and Ken Mays, the 2018 Conservationist/Cooperators of the Year. They were honored for applying several best management practices to provide wildlife habitat, reduce soil erosion, planting warm season grasses on highly erodible land and protecting water quality.

John Ganz, chairman of the board of supervisors was re-elected to the same position, and SWCD employee Aaron Robinson was honored for ten years of service, and Lori Liles for 20.

John Sweeting, board of supervisors secretary, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. Along with Sweeting and Ganz, Board members are Dan Stevens, vice chairman; Brad Harris, treasurer; and Gerald Martin, special projects.

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