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July 9, 2013

Farmers and Fishermen to Switch Places for Conservation Exchange

Why would a South Dakota farmer want to trade places with a Louisiana Gulf fisherman? The TRCP launched an exchange program this summer to answer that question and seek solutions to conserve America’s great native prairies and coastal waters.

In the TRCP “Barnyard to Boatyard Conservation Exchange,” three South Dakota farm couples will travel to Cocodrie, La., in July for a three-day educational outing to learn about the trials and triumphs of managing businesses reliant on healthy Louisiana Delta and Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, complete with a fishing trip along Louisiana’s Cajun bayous.

Subsequently, three couples engaged in commercial fishing, tourism and recreational fishing from the Louisiana Delta region will travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., in August to participate in an intensive, three-day briefing on the innovations and realities of grain and livestock farming and ranching, capped off by a trip to the Sioux Empire Fair.

In the nation’s capital and around the country, the TRCP works to strengthen laws, policies and practices affecting fish and wildlife conservation by leading partnerships that influence decision makers.

“Our hope is that these six couples will return to their communities and stress the need to take action to conserve our nation’s natural resources for future generations,” said Tim Kizer, private lands field coordinator for the TRCP. “This is not a quick fix. It will take time. Some long-held opinions and practices must change, but we are in this for the long haul. This exchange is about equipping people with the tools to make a difference for their own futures, as well as those of their children, neighbors and their new friends thousands of miles away.”

Reporters interested in attending the Barnyard to Boatyard Exchange should contact Cathryn Kennedy, cathryn@cathrynkennedy.com (612.309.3951); Pam McCarthy-Kern, pam.mck@earthlink.net (612-360-0647); Katherine McKalip, kmckalip@trcp.org (406.240.9262) or Tim Kizer, tkizer@trcp.org (479-530-8855).

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July 7, 2013

Meet Ryan and Kerri Wagner

Wagners Inc.

Farm: Wagners Inc., near Roslyn, S.D., a closely held family operation.  Ryan and Kerri and Ryan’s dad are majority owners and manage the operation.

Acreage: 4,000 acres and also custom farm for others

Row Crops: Corn, soybean and spring wheat

Family: Three children: Grady – 4 ½ years; Anna — 2 ½ years; and Harrison – 7 months

History: Ryan’s grandfather moved to South Dakota to farm in the 1950s; Ryan’s dad and uncles operated the farm in the 1980s. Ryan moved back in 2007 and continues to work with his dad full-time on the farm. The Wagners used to have a diversified operation, including a cattle feedlot until 2004.

Conservation: Wagners Inc. is 100 percent continuous no till, and has been practicing no till for more than 30 years. Ryan’s dad first implemented the practice as a means to conserve moisture. Now they know the additional benefits of soil health and maintaining organisms in the soil. The Wagners have also participated in the federal Conservation Stewardship Program since its early days.  Conservation is almost second nature to the region, Ryan says, noting the unique topographical challenges of the Prairie Pothole region of South Dakota.

Why are you participating in the Conservation Exchange?

It gives me an opportunity to go to another part of the country where I can learn some new management practices. I’m also curious about aquaculture as a possible market for soybean meal for fish food.

 What do you hope to learn?

Regardless of what industry we are in, we can learn management tips, tricks of trade. I’m also interested in learning about their culture. And I’m looking forward to teaching about our industry and sharing with them.

What else: Ryan is a mechanical engineer and worked in that industry for five years before farming. His wife, Kerri, is a former high school math teacher and now is a full-time mother and farmer.

July 6, 2013

Meet Dawn and Patrick Scheier

DAWN & PATRICK SCHEIER  (Pronunciation note: Scheier rhymes with tire.)

Scheier Farms: Near Salem, SD

Row Crops: Corn & Soybeans

Acreage: 1,600; also farm with brother for a total of 3,000 acres

Family: 3 adult children: Rebecca Lacey, 24; Ben & Brittany, 22. Ben is part-time farming with his parents.

History: Patrick is a fourth generation farmer. His great-grandfather homesteaded in South Dakota. Patrick grew up on the family farm five miles from his current farm. He started his own operation in 1980 and married Dawn in 1983. Both are full time farmers now. Previously they had operated cow-calf and hog operations.

Conservation: Some no till, shelter belts, & grass ditches

Why are you participating in the Conservation Exchange?

Dawn: I like to learn. TRCP is a lot about wildlife preservation, and South Dakota is a good hunting area. I also want to learn about the Dead Zone; we hear a lot that. They (Louisiana fishermen) provide food too. It will be interesting to see and hear their perspectives.

Patrick: The fishing interests me the most. I want to learn about that area – learn about governmental regulations they (Louisiana fishermen) face, environmental issues…what they go through. And they can learn about what it takes to farm here.

What Else: Dawn is a public speaking volunteer with Common Ground, a consumer education program about farming and how food is raised, funded through the corn and soybean check-off dollars.

July 2, 2013

July Fourth Giveaway

Do you want a chance to win the greatest book of hunting stories ever?

In celebration of America’s hunting heritage, we’re giving you a chance to win “The Gigantic Book of Hunting Stories.”

So why haven’t you signed up yet? (Trust us – it’s easy.)

Take 10 seconds and throw your name in right now.

Independence Day is a big deal and we want to give you an extra reason to celebrate.

June 18, 2013

Can Crowd-Sourced Funding Save Conservation?

When times are tough, people get creative. One TRCP partner in particular has developed an out-of-the-box strategy to cure the conservation-funding blues.

National habitat and conservation organization, National Wild Turkey Federation, has recruited the help of an online crowd-sourced funding platform called CrowdTilt to fulfill their organizational goals.

Crowd-sourced funding, or crowdfunding, is a fundraising approach that allows many individuals to make small online donations toward a common project – in this case, conserving the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota.

Unable to standby and watch as a mountain pine beetle epidemic devastated the area, NWTF decided to take action. The obvious solution to hire a dedicated forester for the area was shot down due to a lack of funding for such a position.

NWTF  has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for the position. The hiring of a forest manager is a crucial first step toward ensuring the long-term health of the Black Hills and the wildlife that calls its forests home.

From the CrowdTilt page:

By helping to secure this professional forester, you can support wildlife habitat enhancement, reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, forest management planning and mountain pine beetle prevention and treatment. These improvements will cover more than 2,000 acres and be funded by cost share dollars, possibly as much as $800,000, available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service and a previously acquired federal grant.

NWTF’s CrowdTilt campaign already has raised $440 of the $10,000 needed to make am impact on the pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills. Stay tuned to find out whether NWTF reaches their goal.

Do you think the idea will catch on?

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

Learn More
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