Area farmers invited to winter workshop

BATAVIA, OH (Feb. 6, 2020) — Local farmers are invited to attend the Agricultural Resources Winter Workshop, 9 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Feb. 20, at Southern State Community College’s Mt. Orab campus. The workshop is being coordinated by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in Clermont, Brown, Highland and Clinton counties in collaboration with Ohio State University Extension.

“This is a good time of year to give farmers an update new and existing programs and resources available in the region,” said John McManus, district administrator for Clermont SWCD.

A new online resource, entitled the Southwest Ohio Agricultural Conservation Menu (SOACM), will be presented, along with recommendations and resources for improving nutrient management using effective precision agricultural technologies. Information on mental health programs for farmers, and updates on the new H2Ohio Initiative and local water quality monitoring efforts.

“There is a big push at the state level to ensure clean and safe water for all Ohioans, and we’ll discuss which programs are available to help landowners and communities reduce water pollution at the local level,” McManus added.

The Brown County Farm Bureau will provide breakfast. There is no charge to attend. Online registration is available:

For more information, call Becky McClatchey of Clermont SWCD at (513)-732-7075.

Best of both worlds: Kids and environment education

Judy Krebs, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District’s education coordinator, touched many lives during her 31 years of service. We caught up with Judy before her Jan. 31 retirement. 

What did your job entail?  “Well, my title is Education Coordinator. Teachers in any Clermont County school can request programs that I offer on many kinds of environmental education. I will go into their schools and classrooms and teach those programs to the students. They are often hands-on and fun, but also meet many of the Ohio Education Learning Standards for many different grade levels. I also have a contract with the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District to teach about solid waste reduction and recycling in Clermont County schools.”

What did you like most about your job?  “Gosh, there are so many to talk about. My job was so fulfilling to me. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life in the past 31 years. I love kids and I love environment education and so I had the best of both worlds. Developing relationships with the students and teachers was the greatest. Teachers tell me I missed my calling and should have been a formal educator, but I loved going to the different schools. These students and teachers became part of my family. I would return to my office and after the students heard my presentations they would contemplate and then their teacher would send me an e-mail with more questions that they had. That’s how I know I was able to reach those students and make education fun. Below is an e-mail I received from a teacher after I returned from a program at their school.


I collected students’ questions from today. They included: 

  1. Why does salt have that fancy word?
  2. How were rocks and minerals formed? 
  3. Have you ever been to Hocking Hills to see the lines on the rocks? 
  4. I know that a diamond is a strong mineral, but is there anything stronger? 
  5. How do you crush diamonds to make sandpaper?  

Thank you for a great presentation! The kids loved it very much.”

What were some of the highlights for you? “Again, there were so many. One of my first was receiving the very first National Professional Employee of the Year. I was first nominated for the Area IV Educator of the Year and won that. I was then nominated for the State Educator of the Year and received that award. That put me in the running for the Regional Educator of the Year award and I received that one. I had no idea that they had created a National Professional Employee of the Year Award, but I was nominated for that and was notified that I had won it. I traveled to San Diego, California, to receive that award at a huge NACD Conference. I was then honored by the Clermont County Commissioners and was invited to the Ohio State Senate to be recognized for my award. It was such an honor.

“Another highlight was creating the Augmented Reality Sandbox. I wrote a Duke Energy Foundation Grant to have it built. It was a dream and a nightmare as it was very complicated to get it calibrated. It took me a year and a half but I finally got it finished. The AR Sandbox uses a 3D Kinect camera to scan a 3D shape of the sand surface in real-time, and additionally to detect hand gestures above the surface of the sand to create ‘virtual reality clouds.’ A computer located under the sandbox collects the data from  the camera and projects that image through a projector that is located on the AR Sandbox’s arm. That data is then projected on the sand surface in real-time. It can teach young students how to read a topography map in ten minutes because those topography lines move every time they change the shape of the sand.

“The many relationships I developed over the years with students and teachers is truly one of the biggest highlights.”

Why did you enter this type of work?  “Well when I started with the Clermont SWCD, I was hired as the secretary for the District. I loved kids and education and went to my Board and asked if we could create an Environmental Education program. We had no such position back then. I started out doing part-time my first year with the District but it soon became overwhelming and I started teaching environmental education full time my second year with the District. Again, as I stated before, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”

How did I end up with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District?  “Well, 31 years ago I was the Corporate Secretary for the President and Vice-President of Keystone General. It was a military contract company located in Sharonville. I was going to be getting married that year and wanted a job closer to home. I applied for the secretary position for the District and on my way home from the interview, I receive a call from the District Administrator, offering me the position. He always joked about getting me for .06 cents more an hour.”

How have things changed over the years?  “Wow, I don’t know where to begin because everything has changed. When I first started with the District, not many people even knew what Clermont SWCD was or did. The job environment was so much more ‘laid back.’ You could talk to people when you were out on a site visit and not worry about not being able to get your work finished at the office when you got back.  There is so much more work to do now than there was back then. Not just site visits but also so much more paperwork. Times have really changed when it comes to accountability for your job. Also, people who are not in the farming business now know who we are and what we do.”

What plans do you have for retirement?  “Well, I don’t have any yet because I didn’t expect to be retiring for another year. It has taken two weeks to sink in. I am the POA for my mom and dad and they are not in the best of health so much of my time will be spent helping them and taking care of their small farm.”

Anything else you would like to add?  “Well, this retirement thing is still sinking in. I cried for the first week and a half every time I went to do a presentation in a school. I will miss the students and the teachers so much. As I have said before, I just can’t imagine a more fulfilling and wonderful job to have for the last 31 years.”

Everyone is invited to stop by the 4 H Hall, Clermont County Fairgrounds, 1000 Locust St., Owensville, OH 45160, 2-6 p.m., Jan. 31., to say adieu and wish Judy well on her next journey. Notes also may be sent to Judy Krebs, c/o Clermont SWCD, PO Box 549, Owensville, OH 45160-0549.


Seeking students for 2020 Spring Litter Clean-Up Logo Design Contest

BATAVIA, OH —  All local K-12 students are invited once again to participate in the annual Spring Litter Clean-Up (SLC) Logo Design Contest. The contest is sponsored locally by the Duke Energy Foundation, the Clermont County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Southern Ohio Association of Realtors (SOAR) to promote the SLC event and encourage student civic engagement.

The student with the winning design will receive a $100 cash prize, with an additional $100 going to their school’s art department. There will also be 13 grade level awards given at $25 each. This year’s winning design will be printed on a stainless steel water bottle, a promotional gift each volunteer will receive for their participation. Any student attending a school located in Clermont County, or within the East Fork Little Miami River watershed, may register to compete. Students should register and review the rules on the event website: Designs must be submitted by Friday, March 6.

The Spring Litter Clean-Up will be held 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, May 16, in various communities across the county and watershed. The SLC event is coordinated each year by the Clermont SWCD and Valley View Foundation.

Valley View Foundation is a non-profit organization that preserved a 190-acres that is a nature preserve and education center located near the confluence of the East Fork and Little Miami Rivers in Milford, Clermont County.

Clermont SWCD is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio charged with promoting the wise use of natural resources through service and education.

For more information about the Spring Litter Clean-Up or the design contest, please contact Becky McClatchey at the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District at 513-732-7075.


Clermont DD students help Clermont Soil and Water prepare materials for educational programs

BATAVIA, OH (Jan. 2, 2020) — In 2018, the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) began a partnership that has greatly benefitted both organizations. To celebrate this relationship, Clermont DD presented Clermont SWCD with a Friends of Developmental Disabilities Award at its annual banquet on Oct. 23.

The partnership began when Clermont SWCD was looking for assistance with preparing materials for the numerous education programs given throughout the year. Judy Krebs, the SWCD education specialist, typically presents over 360 programs in county schools annually, and had been spending considerable time making and organizing supplies for these.

“We knew that Clermont DD had several programs that help students become more involved in the community, so we decided to reach out,” Krebs said.

Clermont DD staff thought this was a wonderful idea. “This volunteer opportunity is beneficial to our program because it’s eco-friendly and applies our values of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while offering an opportunity to volunteer for our community,” said Jo Praschak, program coordinator for Wildey Community Integration Program-Adult Services.

Soon, students from both the Wildey Center and the Donald A. Collins Center began to prepare materials for Krebs’s “Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly,” “Making Recycled Newspaper Christmas Ornaments,” and “Animal Tracks” programs.

“While they are working, the students also have a chance to learn something about nature,” Krebs said. “The students are able to see how butterflies go from a very small egg to a beautiful butterfly in their life cycle. Those helping make animal tracks learn about animal adaptations, characteristics, and how animals can be harmed when people litter.”

“It’s so cool learning about how the Monarch caterpillar becomes a butterfly and learning about recycling,” said one student.

For more information about education programs offered by Clermont SWCD, contact Judy Krebs at (513) 732-7213 or For more information about Clermont DD’s programs, contact Lisa Davis at 513-732-7000 or

Artists wanted for two environmental design contests

BATAVIA, OH — The Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District is encouraging students and local artists to participate in design contests for two popular events to be held in the spring – the annual Spring Litter Cleanup and the 8th annual Rain Barrel Art Project.

The 2020 Spring Litter Clean-Up is scheduled for May 16, and coordinators are kicking off the event with a logo design contest for local students. The winning logo will be printed on a reusable water bottle, which will be the 2020 volunteer thank you gift. Any K-12 student, including home-schooled students, attending school or residing in Clermont County, or within the East Fork Little Miami River watershed, may register to compete. The student with the winning design will receive a cash award of $100 and an additional $100 for their school art department. There will also be 13 grade level awards of $25 each.

      • Design entries are due by March 6. Logo designs should emphasize litter clean-up and prevention.
      • Students can review contest rules and register through the event website at:

The Rain Barrel Art Project is open to all artists, including students and seasoned professionals. This is a joint effort of Save Local Waters, its members and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Students and other community members throughout the Ohio River Valley are asked to submit artistic designs to beautify otherwise dull rain barrels. The painted rain barrels will be displayed at the Cincinnati Zoo through April, and auctioned off during the Zoo’s Tunes and Blooms event on April 23.

        • Artists who wish to submit a design for consideration must do so by Jan. 17. A total of 40 designs will be accepted.
        • For a copy of the application form or for more information, visit or call 513-772-7645.


Clermont SWCD to restore wetlands, create basin for water management

BATAVIA, OH (Oct. 17, 2019) — Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Clermont County Park District have received a $135,080 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore a stream and construct three small wetlands at Shor Park on Tealtown Road. This is the second phase of a restoration project that began in 2014 when Clermont SWCD and the Park District partnered to restore more than nine acres of wetlands and create a bioretention basin for storm water management.

On Oct. 9, the Clermont SWCD Board approved a contract with Sustainable Streams, a project design firm. Project design work will be completed over the winter, and construction is anticipated to start next summer.

About 200 feet of Avey’s Run flows through a storm sewer system as it enters Shor Park. The pipes are in disrepair, resulting in several sinkholes that could pose a danger to park visitors. Bank erosion continues along a 500-foot stretch of the stream. Erosion is also a problem in a small channel that follows a hiking trail downstream of the bioretention basin. Additionally, invasive species such as honeysuckle and autumn olive have taken over parts of the property, including in areas where the soils are better suited for wetlands.

Part of the project will involve removing the existing storm sewer and recreating a natural stream channel in its place. To correct erosion problems in other locations, the project team will install hand placed log structures at key places along the stream bank. This technique mimics naturally-occurring stable wood found in nature, and avoids the disturbance associated with heavy equipment and grading operations.

Along with the stream restoration work, three pocket wetlands will be created and more than 11 acres of invasive species will be removed.

Shor Park, located at 4659 Tealtown Road, is the newest park in the Clermont County Park District. The 56-acre parcel of land was donated by Sylvia Shor. The park features three walking trails winding through the many open fields on the property. In 2019, the park Ddistrict completed construction of two new picnic shelters, an inclusive playground designed for users of all abilities, and a wind turbine to help power the new facilities.


Dam removal restores river to more natural state in Batavia

Thanks to the efforts of the Valley View Foundation, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Village of Batavia, the segment of the East Fork Little of the Miami River that flows through the heart of Batavia has been restored to a more natural state following the removal of a low-head dam, which has impeded the river since the 1940s.

Similar to other Depression-era dams built across the nation, the Batavia dam was constructed to provide a local water source. Batavia ceased utilizing the dam for such purposes years ago and the defunct structure remained imbedded in the river, degrading habitat and posing a significant threat to the public.

Low-head dams can be dangerous, as people who recreate on or near the structures risk injury and drowning. Dubbed as “drowning machines” because of the turbulent, circulating waters that can trap people at the toe of the dam, many communities are opting to remove these structures to improve public safety. Over the last 30 years, 50+ dams have been removed across Ohio, including two dams in the East Fork watershed; one located on the East Fork Little Miami River in the Village of Williamsburg and another on Solomon Run, an East Fork tributary near Fayetteville.

The dam removal and river restoration in Batavia was funded through Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP), a program created in 2000 that uses interest monies from Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) sponsor projects to fund preservation and restoration of the state’s water resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also contributed funds to improve river habitat, specifically for fish and endangered mussel species. Removal of the dam provides immediate habitat improvements and over time, the diversity of fish and mussel species will also improve.

Activities to remove the dam began with a notching of the structure on Sept.  4 to lower river levels and relocate mussels found behind the dam and along the newly exposed banks.

Removal of the dam is now complete and instream restoration is in the works.

Upon completion of the project later this month, Clermont County residents will enjoy safer recreation along the river and the East Fork will flow freely for 20 miles to its confluence with the Little Miami River near Milford.

State and county officials to recognize award winners

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 5, 2019) — Prior to its 76th Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, Sept. 12, the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will hold a press conference to honor its 2019 Cooperator and Educator of the Year award recipients.

During the press conference, which starts at 5 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building on the Clermont County Fairgrounds, 1000 Locust Street, Owensville, Ohio, various state and local elected officials will present certificates of recognition to the award recipients. Confirmed presenters include State representatives John Becker and Doug Green, Gov. Mike DeWine’s Southwest Ohio Liaison Jason Gloyd, and a member of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners. Clermont SWCD will present its awards during the Annual Meeting, which will begin at about 6 p.m.

For more information, please contact John McManus, Clermont SWCD District Administrator, at (513) 732-7075 ext. 3, or at

Information on Clermont SWCD Award Recipients:

Cooperator of the Year – Louise Gartner

Louise Gartner operates a five-acre organic farm in Monroe Township. In two short years, she went from a small vegetable garden to raising organic crops under four high tunnels.  She plans to construct two more large high tunnels in the near future to further expand her beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peppers, potatoes and zucchini production.  Louise has worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to construct the high tunnels and other conservation practices, including cover crops, integrated pest management, nutrient management, and a drainage system around the high tunnels.  She now has a very productive operation, selling to a local food Co-op based out of Cincinnati, as well as an upper-end grocery store chain.  Louise devotes much of her time to educating and training others.  She has hosted various educational tours for groups, such as National Farm to Table conference and the Turner Farm, which has a Veteran to Farmer Training Program.

Educator of the Year – Meri Johnson

Meri Johnson is an educational consultant whose services have been invaluable to Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District and local schools. She has trained hundreds of teachers in Ohio and has been actively involved as a science education advisor for several local universities, the Ohio Department of Education and the National Science Teachers Association. Prior to this, Meri worked as Clermont County’s Science Curriculum Specialist for the Educational Service Center. She also taught at Clermont Northeastern High School for 13 years and Batavia High School for nine years. During that time she taught biology, environmental science, outdoor science, anatomy and physiology, AP biology and physical science. She was also the sponsor for the Envirothon, Clermont Science Challenge and Academic Quiz Teams. Meri also served on the Clermont SWCD Board of Supervisors for 12 years. She considers herself to be very fortunate to have a career that allows her to share her passion of science and outdoors with her adolescent and adult students in an interesting, valuable and encouraging way.



Residents, landowners invited to elect Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors member

BATAVIA, OH (Aug. 26, 2019) — If you are a resident or landowner in Clermont County, the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) invites you to participate in the election for its Board of Supervisors. The election runs from Aug. 22 through the annual meeting at the County Fairgrounds in Owensville on Sept. 12.

One person will be elected to the Board for a three-year term commencing Jan. 1, 2020. Candidates for the election include Laura Carlier and Connie O’Connor. Candidate biographies can be viewed at Votes can be cast at Clermont SWCD’s office on the fairgrounds, or a request form for an absentee ballot can be downloaded from the District’s web site.

Clermont SWCD’s 76th Annual Meeting and Banquet will be at the Fairgrounds Multipurpose Building in Owensville on Sept.  12.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30. Banquet tickets ($12 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under) must be purchased in advance. For more information, contact Clermont SWCD at (513) 732-7075 ext.2, or email

The meeting will include a catered dinner, and the evening’s entertainment will feature Raptor Inc., a volunteer organization that specializes in the pickup, rehabilitation and release of injured raptors, and delivers educational programs throughout the region.

Election results will be announced at the end of the evening. It is not necessary to purchase tickets to vote in the election.


State offers disaster recovery funding to plant cover crops on flooded acreage

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 2, 2019) — Extreme weather conditions like the recent excessive rains and tornados have negatively impacted Ohio farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS)  will invest $4 million to help Ohio agricultural producers recover. Technical and financial assistance is now available to producers who were unable to plant their crops, or who have experienced crop loss due to flooded or wet fields. This sign-up is an opportunity for farmers to plant a cover crop.

To apply for this special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) opportunity, farmers in Clermont County should contact either Lori Lenhart, NRCS District Conservationist, or Jenna Swanson, NRCS Soil Scientist, at (513) 732-2181 ext. 3. Applications will be accepted beginning July 1, until funding is exhausted.

“NRCS can be a valuable partner to help Ohio landowners with their agricultural recovery effort,” said State Conservationist Terry Cosby for NRCS in Ohio. “This special sign-up encourages farmers to plant cover crops to improve water quality and soil health, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weeds on areas not planted to crops.”

NRCS will utilize EQIP for this special disaster recovery sign-up. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers protect the environment while promoting agricultural production.

Cover crops provide an alternative to fields going fallow and remaining uncovered. Cover crops also improve soil vitality by adding nutrients and organic matter. Many fields that are saturated for a long period of time face a loss of soil organisms. Cover crop roots reestablish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil, which is key to restoring it.

There are significant changes with cover crops and the state wants producers to be successful in their 2020 planting year. Educational cover crop workshops and field days are readily available throughout Ohio to learn more. Additional information is also available on the NRCS website and

Landowners should coordinate with other USDA farm agencies when participating in related programs. It is a producer’s responsibility to work directly with their insurance agent and Risk Management Agency (RMA) to ensure they understand their policy.