The 70th annual meeting of the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District was held in the Martin Room of the ECCC Building, on the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, in Goshen Feb. 21. There were 130 people in attendance.  

Jim Hess, SWCD board chairman from Goshen, led a short business meeting. Hans Kok spoke on “Indiana and the Netherlands: Comparing Agriculture and More.”

Keith E. Miller of New Paris received the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award for his efforts in establishing and maintaining conservation practices on his farm that promote soil productivity and improve water quality.

Monica Yoder of Middlebury was honored as the Friend of the SWCD for her support of Elkhart County’s Indiana Master Naturalist Program.  

Jordan Kauffman of Goshen was named Volunteer of the Year for his work in designing the Stormwater Partnership two year calendar.  

Business award

Kuert Concrete was named Urban Conservationist of the Year. They are the first company in Michiana to invest in a chute wash system that prevents concrete wash out from becoming a pollutant on construction sites, according to the SWCD. Steve Fidler accepted the award on their behalf.  

Two Northridge Middle School teachers, Jamison Smith and Matthew Hahn, received Conservation Educator of the Year awards for their organization of the annual Northridge trip to Boundary Waters for seventh- and eighth-grade students. Brian Campbell of Goshen received a Service Award for his years as an SWCD supervisor and associate, and Jim Lake, district support specialist with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture also received a Service Award for his contributions to the Elkhart County SWCD.

Youth awards

Youth awards included: highest placing Elkhart County FFA Senior Soil Judgers: Lucas Adam, Sam Burtsfield, Austin Erb and Madison Riley; and Elkhart County 4-H Senior Soil Judgers:  Ashley Leer, Preston Reddell and Sophie Suderman.  These students are all of Fairfield High School and coached by Kraig Bowers , Fairfield FFA Ag Advisor.  

Hannah Johnson received a 4-H Natural Resource Career Award in recognition of her many excellent forestry, soil and water and wildlife projects throughout her 10 year 4-H career.  She was also honored along with Aaron Johnson, Peter Paetkau, Ben Kragt and Benjamin Wiebe for winning the Regional Envirothon contest held at Merry Lea, and placing second in the written portion of the State Envirothon Contest. They are all Goshen High School students and were coached by Janeen Bertsche Johnson and Zebulon Holsopple.  

Gladys Castro, Hawthorne Elementary, designed the winning poster which appeared on the cover of the annual report. Other first place winners in their age divisions were Alexis Hess, Wakarusa Elementary, and Ainsley Friesen, Waterford Elementary.


Alex Wait, SWCD supervisor and election committee chairman, conducted the supervisor election. Tom Kercher of Goshen, was re-elected to serve a three-year term on the SWCD board. Elkhart County Councilman David Hess administered the oath of office to Kercher and also to Lyle Burtsfield, who was re-appointed to a three-year term on the SWCD Board.

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