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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.

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A Sportsman’s Encounter with Conservation

I work in wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s advocacy, an arena about which I am truly passionate. Nevertheless, I occasionally have days when I wonder why I bother.

Frustrations in one form or another – whether setbacks in the political process or the challenges inherent in educating hunters and anglers about policy issues – can make you want to bang your head against the wall.

But some moments make it all worthwhile. Recently after a particularly difficult week at the office, I sought some much-needed “mountain therapy” in the backcountry of Wyoming near my home. I tackled a relatively long and challenging hiking trail, which ascended to about 8,000 feet before leveling out along a ridgeline and providing spectacular, uninterrupted views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

As I climbed through the timber, my mind still on my work, I noticed a mule deer buck bedded just below the tree line. I stopped and sat with him a while, occasionally making eye contact, and as he showed no sign of being nervous about my presence, I quietly pulled out my video camera.

Now, before anyone comments that this is just a boring video clip of a deer doing nothing, I challenge you to look a little closer. To me, this video represents everything I work for, summarized in one brief minute.

In this video I see a healthy, mature mule deer buck, who in June already is showing promise of becoming the kind of buck that wanders through any mountain hunter’s dreams. His habitat, while designated for multiple uses such as energy development as well as recreation, is scientifically managed for his needs and is neither over-grazed nor overrun with development. His range is not fragmented by unnecessary roads and has clean water plentiful enough to grow the forage that keeps him in good body condition. While pressure from predators exists, his aging face is evidence of the fact he has learned to co-exist with the wolf pack whose den is within three miles of this sunny hillside.

When I look at this video I see evidence of responsible, science-based management of our fish and wildlife. And that makes me want to get up another day and continue to fight all of the seemingly uphill battles sportsmen face here in the West, whether it’s irresponsible energy development, lack of funding or the political erosion of our backcountry.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor by signing up as a Western Sportsman Advocate.

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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.

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Meet Joey Hanson

Agronomist & Farmer

 Agronomist & Certified Crop Advisor: Now With Valley Ag Supply in Gayville, SD, and starting his own custom strip till business, Diversified Agronomics

Farm: Family Farm near Elk Point, SD

Row Crops: Corn & Soybeans

Acreage: Under 200

Family: 3-year-old son, Austin James Hanson, who wants to be on the family farm 24 hours day.

History: Joey’s grandparents started the family farm in the 1940s. After Joey’s dad died in a farming accident in 2006, Joey moved back to the farm in 2007. He and his brother, James, who is a precision ag technician with International Case in Sioux Falls, manage the farm together.

Conservation: Will start over cropping this summer, followed by strip tilling in the fall.

Why are you participating in the Conservation Exchange?

I have a small farm and am just starting conservation practices. I hope to gain more knowledge and expertise from those who have been doing it for some time. It opens up another door for long-term ag sustainability here in south Dakota. 

What do you hope to learn?

I want to learn about some of the issues they are having in the Gulf: hypoxia and water quality issues that stem from practices a couple thousand miles north of them. I want to learn how it’s affecting their practices; how it’s changing their practices; how government looks at it.

And I want to learn about their culture of agriculture. So much of agriculture has turned into business: agribusiness. I want to learn how we can help each other…what we can do to become better stewards.

What Else: Joey knows the other South Dakota participants through the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.

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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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

Learn More
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