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Conservation honors presented

Jay Whalen accepts a Conservation Partner award Thursday morning in Pontiac / CIFN photo.

Several conservation awards were presented Thursday during the annual meeting of the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District in Pontiac.

This year’s Conservation Farm Family Award was presented to the Jim Ifft family of Fairbury.

The family consists of Jim and Julie Ifft and their son Josh along with his wife Erin. They farm around 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat and utilize cover crops on many of those acres.

The family is conservation minded and has been using cover crops for over five years and have seen great results. Cover crops and no-till have cut erosion from wind and water to practically nothing on their land.

The Iffts have expanded into cover crop sales and custom seeding to help serve the local farmers. In addition to their conservation efforts, Jim is very active with the Vermilion Headwaters Watershed steering committee and is willing to help anyone with conservation questions. Several soil and water conservation events have been hosted by the Ifft family.

Partners in Conservation award winners include: Stinnett Gettinger, Illinois American Water, Jay Whalen and Dee Woodburn.

Gettinger is a third grade teacher at Dwight Grade School and is known for his classroom menagerie of critters, plants and natural artifacts. These items help his students become more aware of the natural world surrounding them. Stinnett also teaches students to be good stewards of Earth by involving them in activities which benefit the community.

LCSWCD’s partnership with Illinois American Water has resulted in several major accomplishments which include development of the Vermilion Watershed Task Force, writing of a Vermilion Watershed management plan and implementation of the plan. Illinois American believes in community involvement and utilizes its employees and business resources in many diverse ways.

Woodburn has been active with the district’s youth education programs for many years. She has participated in teacher training events and has served as a volunteer for most of the Conservation and Ag expos. Woodburn is very active with the University of Illinois Master Gardener program and is a Master Naturalist.

Whalen and his family farm around 1400 acres of corn and soybeans in the Streator area and employ no-till and cover crops on all of the acreage. They also utilize the CRP program for filter strips along creeks and ditches. Whalen is a cover crop specialist with ProHarvest Seeds and leads by example, according to the LCSWCD. Whalen is also willing to experiment with cover crops to see what works best.

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