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Conservation awards presented at district annual meeting
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Brent Clarke and family members representing Clarke Family Farm LLC, winner of the 2015 Soil Conservation award, were recognized by Barton County Extension Agent Alicia Boor and County Key Banker Shane Dicks at the Barton County Conservation District annual meeting and banquet Saturday night. Winners receive a plaque and signage to be posted on their farm. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

The Barton County Conservation District met for its annual meeting and banquet Saturday night at Barton Community College.  Members voted for president of the district, and two recipients of the 2015 Bankers Conservation Awards were recognized. Elementary students from Central Kansas Christian Academy participated in an annual poster contest and top artists in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade categories received plaques and recognition during the evening also.
Barton County Extension Agent Alicia Boor and County Key Banker Shane Dicks with Community Bank were on hand to present plaques and farm signs to Bruce Yahne and Brent Clarke of Clarke Family Farms LLC for their efforts in preserving and conserving soils and water on their Barton County farms.  Yahne was not present, but the Clark Family joined Brent Clarke at the podium to receive the award.  
Clarke Farms LLC has converted all flood irrigated land over to a combination of pivot and sub soil irrigation, with significant savings of labor and water usage.  Yahne received the award for conservation practices that included cross-wind strips and shelter belts to protect land from erosion and to trap moisture from snow and rain fall.
The purpose of the Kansas Bankers Conservation Award program is to stimulate a greater interest in the conservation of the Kansas natural resource by giving recognition to those farmers and ranchers who have made outstanding progress in the development of a complete soil conservation plan and implementation of that plan on their farms in accordance with the capability of the land.
The Bankers Conservation Award started in the 1930s to provide an incentive to do conservation work. In 1985, some conservation work became mandatory to participate in the farm program.  
In addition to these awards, Betsy Snell, a Barton County high school student, won the district’s annual speech contest, and presented her winning entry at the banquet.  The district also awarded the 2015 Outstanding Kansas Earth Team Group Volunteer award to  Barton County Kids Ag Day.  Area farmer David LeRoy accepted the award on behalf of the group.  Each fall, elementary school students from the county attend the entirely volunteer organized event where they learn important aspects of how agriculture impacts their lives.