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Conservationalists of the year


Mon, Feb 8th, 2010
Posted in Agriculture

Teacher Award, Minnesota SWCD

Craig Colbenson, a teacher at Rushford-Peterson High School, received an award from the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) at their convention held in Duluth in December. The award is given to the k-12 educator "who has created innovative conservation education activities for reaching students." Colbenson has taught Natural Resources for thirty-four years. He is also a farmer. It is his belief that the best way to protect our natural resources is through education.

State Conservation Honor Earned by Fillmore County Couple

The MASWCD named Dan and Sherry Hanson of Peterson as 2009 Minnesota Outstanding Conservationist. Being good stewards of the land is something that has been a generational tradition for the Peterson area family. Dan's grandfather, Oscar, developed a conservation plan over sixty years ago. His father, Eugene, put in the first terraces on the home farm almost forty years ago.

The tradition has been carried forward and enhanced by Dan, 51, who started farming with his father in the 70's. The couple have a young daughter, Ellianna. When Dan was asked if he ever considered any other kind of work other than farming, he replied, "no," that was about it. They farm northwest of Peterson in Arendahl Township. The couple runs his father's farm which is next to theirs and also his mother's family farm which has been in the family for five generations now. The properties are in the Root River watershed.

Hanson runs 613 acres, some which is rented, and the soil on it is protected by over 180 acres of contour strips, thousands of feet of terraces, and acres of grassed waterways. One hundred and fifty beef cows and their calves graze on nearly 200 acres of permanent pastures. Thousands of tree have been planted on acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). These soil protecting enhancements have been added over many years. On the Soil and Water Conservation District web site it is noted that the Hansons exemplify the land stewardship ethic promoted by the SWCD.

The Hansons practice no-till or minimum tillage on their tillable acres and nutrient and pest management. Programs provided by the SWCD and the Natural Resources Conservation Service allow them to determine a cost-effective and efficient application of nutrients and herbicides or pesticides. They rotate their crops of corn, soybeans and hay. Implementing nutrient management aids them in utilizing cow manure or green manure to best increase returns while helping to maintain and improve the soil and providing protection of the environment, including air and water resources.

City of Rushford Named 2009 Community

Conservationist

The 2007 flood was a source of heartache for all of the city of Rushford. Besides the destruction of countless homes and businesses, the city's water supply became contaminated with bacteria. Sewage had backed up into homes during the flood and into private wells and the aquifer. The private wells were the source of the contamination problem.

Working with the SWCD, the city was able to identify and seal 300 private wells within the wellhead protection areas. Rushford staff have made an effort to help educate other city personnel in southeastern Minnesota as to the risk old wells pose to the public water supply and how to correct the problem.

For the city's efforts to abate the risk of the private wells in their own city, their efforts to make personnel from other cities aware of the risk associated with the wells, and for providing knowledge and information on how to mitigate that risk, the MASWCD named the city the 2009 Community Conservationist.

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