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Conservation Awards presented
Tucker recognized for volunteer efforts
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Rita Stolz, rural Barton County, received the 2017 Bankers Association Award for Soil Conservation Saturday evening. She was nominated for the award because of her experimentation with cover cropping with a focus on weed suppression. County Key Banker Shane Dicks, Community Bank, and Cottonwood Extension Ag Agent Alicia Boor presented the award and plaque. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

The Barton County Conservation District held its 71st annual meeting Saturday night, and two area residents were honored for their conservation work with Barton County Bankers Awards for Soil Conservation and Windbreaks. In addition, the importance of volunteering was also highlighted at the ceremony.
Prior to the presentation of the Bankers Awards, BCCD Chairman Melissa Woydziak asked District Manager Pam Tucker to come to the stage. National Resource Conservation Service Supervisory District Conservationist Ron Klein presented her with a special award.
Tucker received the Earth Team Volunteers Award for District Managers from the State Conservationist for Kansas. Tucker tracks volunteer hours for a three-county area. For many years she has worked with volunteers and served on the planning committee for Kids Ag Day, and she has worked with volunteers for the Wetlands Education Day. She also travels to area schools to make presentations. For example, this past week, Tucker brought the Earth Balloon in Hoisington, as she has done with several other schools within the district, Klein said.
Others who receive the award may be considered for the national award, Klein said, but this is the highest level district managers may receive.
County Key Banker Shane Dicks presented the Bankers Awards. Rita Stolz was the winner of the Soil Conservation Award. She worked closely with Cottonwood Extension Ag Agent Alicia Boor and other researchers from Kansas State University since 2015 to develop a cover cropping system for her farm with a focus on weed suppression. The effort has resulted in far fewer noxious weeds in areas where cover crops were planted, higher yields, and increased microorganism activity in the soil.
Jim Hitschmann, rural Hoisington, was the recipient of the Windbreak Award in absentia. He was chosen for the honor for the irrigated cedar windbreak his family planted when they moved into their property north of Hoisington. Since then, the windbreak has filled out significantly. Thanks to their efforts, it is uniform and attractive and a fine example of how a windbreak can enhance a property and provide needed protection from north winds, Dicks said.
The Barton Community College Hilltop Singers provided entertainment.
The annual report was read and accepted, and members, essentially anyone present who resides within the boundaries of the conservation district, voted for Board of Supervisors representatives. Tom Burns and Greg Axman were both up for reelection and, running unopposed, were elected for another term each.

BCCD moving to new location
Following the presentation of awards, Klein spoke about the upcoming move set to happen in the next week. The Barton County Conservation District and NRCS, as well as the FSA, will have a new home later this week, as will several of the other organizations that shared office space at the 16th and Kansas Ave. location for the past 10 years.
The offices will be closed and the move is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 1 and 2. Monday, Feb. 5, the offices will reopen.
“It’s going to be hectic out there for a few days while we get everything organized,” Klein said. “We hope that people will bear with us during that week. We will continue to work through this move with as little disturbance to the public as possible. The new offices will be located on the southeast corner of the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Blvd.