BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 14, 2017) – The Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District named brothers Ernie, Lowell and Mark Hatfield Cooperator of the Year and teacher Brenda Siepmann Educator of the Year during the organization’s Annual Banquet held Sept. 15 at Pattison Park.
The SWCD honors the Cooperator of the Year for the person’s – or family’s – dedication to conservation practices in farming. The Hatfields, who farm about 1,000 no-till acres in the Felicity area, practice conservation crop rotation and have placed a special focus on cover crops.
“They began experimenting with cover crops in the 1970s and 1980s by planting strips of wheat to help slow water and manage erosion in their fields,” said John McManus, Administrator of the SWCD. “Around 7-8 years ago, their cover crop effort intensified. Showing their imaginative and innovative side, they modified their combine so that during harvest, the cover crop seeds are planted in between the crop rows. About 2-3 years ago, they made similar modifications to the corn header, and as a result, they now plant cover crops as they harvest both soybeans and corn on all the acres they farm.”
“We get better yields using cover crops, especially in dry years,” Mark said. Ernie added, “The soil doesn’t erode as bad. If there is a dry time in the summer, the cover crop conserves moisture and acts as a mulch.”
“It’s important to preserve the soil for generations to come,” Ernie added. “People need to be good stewards of the land.”
Brenda Siepmann teaches STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for gifted students in grades 2-8 at Clermont Northeastern schools. She believes students in science should get “down and dirty!”
“For the last 12 years Ms. Siepmann has made science come alive for the students at Clermont Northeastern schools,” McManus said. “The school’s outdoor facilities provide the perfect location to make lessons real and to come alive. Not only have students have enjoyed learning in an outdoor classroom, they have studied birds in the school’s bird blind, completed stream studies on the water, and studied the fish in the school pond.”
During the past school year, Ms. Siepmann’s seventh grade students focused on global and local water issues – “real world projects,” she said.
“We partnered with the SWCD and Greenacres River Education Center,” she said. “We kept a huge tank in the classroom that was filled with local fish such as bass and bluegill. The students took regular measurements of the water, and they released the fish into the school pond at the end of the year.”
Local officials presented the Hatfield brothers and Ms. Siepmann with certificates honoring their accomplishments. These included Clermont County Commissioners David Uible and David Painter; State Sen. Joe Uecker; State Reps. Doug Green and John Becker; Stephen Caraway, Southwest Ohio liaison with Gov. John Kasich, and Marcie Longenecker, Cincinnati area liaison with Treasurer Josh Mandel.