Spring Cover Crop & Soil Health Field Demonstration Highlights Practice Benefits

On April 15, 2015, the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District, IL Council for Best Management Practices, Henry Co Farm Bureau, NRCS, & Midwest & Forage hosted a follow up Cover Crop & Soil Health Field Demonstration at the Currier Family Farm north of Kewanee.

The field day was a great success and demonstrated to over 25 attendees a number of important aspects regarding cover crops. Not only did attendees witness the resilience of some of the cover crop species at the plot that over-wintered from the fall planting, such as annual ryegrass, cereal rye, crimson clover, and hairy vetch, but with the help of Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn, NRCS, guests were also able to witness cover crop rooting depth up to 48 inches in soil pits. Windhorn covered soil health & biology, as well as structure and nutrient recycling benefits associated with cover crop implementation. While Dean Oswald, IL CBMP, started off the morning discussing key cover crop basics and stressed the importance of proper planting date, which our demonstration plots highlighted. The event concluded with a bag lunch compliments of our event sponsors.

A special thanks to our event sponsors and the Stephen Currier Family for hosting! 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 7, 2015        Contact: Paige Buck, Public Affairs (217) 353.6606

RCPP Funds Available for 2016

Champaign, IL--Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will direct up to $235 million to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. Fiscal year 2016 funds are available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), NRCS’ newest conservation tool. Pre-proposals are due to USDA by July 8, 2015.

RCPP, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners—such as private companies, local governments, universities, non-profit groups and other non-government partners—along with farmers and forest landowners to design solutions that work best for them. Local partners and the federal government both invest funding and manpower to projects, maximizing their impact. This is second round of projects funded through RCPP. The first round offered funds and support to three Illinois projects, all of which finalized formal agreements so work can officially begin.

According to Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier, “We had great response for the first year of RCPP but we were all still learning details of the new program. Now that we’ve been through the process once and gained experience with all aspects of developing goals and roles, I believe we’ll see even more promising and innovative proposals for RCPP in 2016.”

“What’s powerful about this program is the potential these partnerships can offer. We know farmers can make changes that restore or improve their land and NRCS can assist them. But when you add even more funds, more skills, more ideas and volunteers, and you target your efforts, the implications are incredible. That’s what RCPP can do. And we can do it right here in Illinois by bringing the right people together to make wise choices that have a positive effect on the land, the water, and on Ag operations.”

In January, USDA announced $394 million in awards for 2015 RCPP applications (which combined funding for fiscal years 2014 and 2015). For 2016, there will be up to $235 million in RCPP funds nationwide to invest in conservation on private land. Dozier hopes to see Illinois proposals that bring solutions and funds to Illinois farms and Illinois’ precious natural resources. NRCS is now accepting new proposals for RCPP. Pre-proposals are due July 8. For more information on applying, visit the www.nrcs.usda.gov and click on the big box that says RCPP.

Annawan High School Named Top Team from Henry County in 2015 Land Use Council (LUC) 2 Envirothon


The Envirothon is a hands-on and interactive learning experience for high school students. Students gain knowledge of the environment and natural resources. Teams compete in five areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and a fifth category on an environmental issue. Teams test their knowledge of the environment and compete against other high school teams from Bureau, Marshall-Putnam, Mercer, Rock Island, and Stark counties. Twenty teams from six counties competed at the Envirothon, this year!

Six teams from Henry County competed at the Envirothon on March 18th, 2015 at the Black Hawk East Campus in Galva, IL. The top team from Henry County for 2015 was Annawan High School Team #1! Team members included: Adam Dynes, Blake Roselieb, Connor William, Jeff Flint, Sammie Johnson. The Annawan High School FFA advisor is Nick Shaner.

Congratulations to Annawan High School!


Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District Celebrates its 75th Annual Meeting!


The Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District's 75th Annual Meeting was held on January 21, 2015 at 6:00pm at the Moose Lodge in Geneseo, IL. Approximately 160 people turned out for the successful event that included a delicious dinner, director elections, conservation awards and recognitions, and a program entitled “Raptor Awareness” from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, MO.  

During their fantastic presentation, the World Bird Sanctuary discussed the importance of conservation to Birds of Prey and highlighted a number of the human-wildlife interactions that currently threaten these amazing species. The World Bird Sanctuary demonstrated the characteristics of a number of predator bird species including a Barn Owl, Screech Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Harris Hawk, American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture, and Bald Eagle. A flight demonstration from a few of these birds, only inches overhead, amazed attendees and depicted the stunning hunting abilities and sensory characteristics of these spectacular animals. 

Conservation award recipients included: Sharon Matson – 15 Year Service Award (Administrative Coordinator, Henry Co SWCD); Roger Gradert – 2014 Conservation Tour Host (Giant Goose Conservation Club Representative); Rhonda McKinley – 2014 Teacher of the Year (Alwood Middle/High School); Daniel Thompson – 2014 Natural Area Guardians (NAGs) of the Year (pictured with Luanne Urban, NAGs President); Gracie Brockett – K-1st Grade Poster Contest Winner (Alwood Elementary School); Marissa Stevens – 2-3rd Grade Poster Contest Winner (Irving Elementary School); Carsen Curry – 4-6th Grade Poster Contest Winner (Alwood Middle School); Galva High School Team 1 – 2014 Top LUC2 Envirothon Team for Henry County (Members: Caleb Rux, Chris North, Colton Sanders, Emma Corkill, & Ryan Olsen; Advisor: Trish Main); Alwood High School FFA Team – 2014 Section 3 FFA Soils Judging Winner (Members: Cody Barman, Tyler Chevalier, Owen Curry, Jadrian Anderson, & Jaimie Schroeder; Advisor:   Bob Terwilliger)

The Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District would like to thank all of our sponsors and donors for the evening’s event. Be sure to join us next year for our 76th Annual Meeting!


Photos by Kevin Clark @ www.CommunityCasts.com

Photos by Kevin ClarkCommunityCasts .

DeCrane Family Named 2014 Henry County Conservation Farm Family

Allen DeCrane & Family. Pictured from L to R: Bobbi Erb, Samantha Erb, Steve Erb, Jen DeCrane, Jeb DeCrane, Shelly DeCrane, Al DeCrane, & Jim DeCrane


Allen DeCrane & Family were named the 2014 Henry County Conservation Farm Family of the year by the Henry Co SWCD for their emplification of “Total Resource Management” and amazing conservation efforts on their family farm.

The DeCrane Family competed for the Governor's Award title at the State AISWCD Annual Meeting in July where they received a recognition plaque distinguishing the family’s local award. The family was also recognized during the HCSWCD Annual Meeting in January and graciously hosted the HCSWCD Summer Conservation Tour in 2013.

The Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District, and its affiliates, would like to sincerely congratulate the DeCrane Family for their dedication and commitment to soil and water conservation. Their Family Farm is a model of conservation for the county.


Matson Recieves 15 Year Service Award

Congratulations to Sharon Matson for recently receiving her 15 year Service Award from the ISWCDEA! Sharon is an invaluable asset to our office, and we couldn’t imagine, nor run, the office without her! Be sure to stop by the office and congratulate her the next time you are in town, so we can keep her talked into another 15 years of service, at a minimum!


2014 IDOA Cover Crop Initiative Grant Demonstration Plot: Currier Family Farm


Made possible by a Cover Crop Initiative Grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Henry County SWCD finally has its very own cover crop demonstration plot located north of Kewanee on Stephen Currier’s Family Farm. Drill seeded September 23, 2014 into corn silage residue, Henry County’s IDOA Cover Crop Initiative plot consists of 3 plots totaling approximately 2 acres each. Plot mixtures include cereal rye/hairy vetch (75/25), crimson clover/annual rye (60/40), and oats/oilseed radish (60/40) and were selected based on the landowner’s goals of increasing supplemental nitrogen availability after corn planting, increasing nutrient holding capacity & availability, and increasing organic matter, humus, and soil tilth.

Our goals for the cover crop demo plot are fairly simple: education. Get a mixture of cover crop species planted on the ground to showcase cover crops’ appearance, benefit, and applicability locally. Incorporating presentations from local professionals and including the Currier’s evaluation and experiences, we hope attendees will gain a better understanding of cover crops.

On October 21st one month after seeding, the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District with partnering agencies including the NRCS, IL CBMP, Midwest Grass & Forage, and the Henry County Farm Bureau held our first public site demonstration. Presentations included cover crop basics such as benefits, costs, species selection, planting & termination, and other considerations. Cover crop cost-share programs were also discussed and, of course, a plot tour was included with landowner feedback. Approximately 30 individuals were in attendance, and the event was well received.

Another demonstration tour is anticipated early this spring to see what overwintering has occurred to our selected species. We hope to continue and expand upon tours with the Currier Family, as long as they are willing, as well as in other areas of the county. We would like to thank all our partners for the event, particularly the Currier Family and Midwest Grass & Forage for their donations.

Summer Conservation Pond Tour Draws Large Crowd After Local Winter Fish Kills

Every year the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District hosts an Annual Conservation Tour, usually in the summer. The purpose of the tour is to increase the public’s conservation education and to showcase “conservation in action” by inviting the community to a local land unit that models any number of conservation practices to reduce erosion, increase water quality, promote wildlife habitat, reduce nutrient runoff, reduce stormwater runoff/pollution, etc.

After a particularly brutal winter last season, the HCSWCD decided that their Annual Conservation Tour this summer should be a Pond Tour and Shocking Demonstration to help address the large number of local winter-kill inquiries. This August, the Giant Goose Conservation Club, located just outside of Atkinson, helped co- host the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Pond Tour. The tour was a huge success drawing approximately 150 individuals from the surrounding area out to the water’s edge. On the tour, local IDNR Fisheries Biologist Ken Clodfelter presented on a number of pond management practices such as fish species stocking, algae identification and management, and invasive species identification and management. Ken also demonstrated his shocking equipment and pond shocking techniques he employs during his fish inventories across the area.  At the end of his presentation, Ken answered guests’ site specific questions and concerns. Following the presentation, guests enjoyed a pork chop sandwich dinner grilled by the Illinois Pork Producers Association and a quick presentation from Giant Goose member Vic Bianchetta on the Club’s membership and grounds.

The Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District would like to thank the Giant Goose Conservation Club for their generosity and assistance, the Illinois Pork Producers for the chops, Ken Clodfelter for his fantastic presentation, and the community for another productive, educational, and successful tour. See you again next year!

Krug Receives NAG's Scholarship

Wes Krug, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville, has received the 2014 Clarence and Marie Medley Conservation Scholarship, awarded by the Henry County Natural Area Guardians, subcommittee of Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District. Krug, whose major is Crop and Soil Science with an emphasis in Plant Breeding and Genetics, is from Hampshire, Illinois, and is the son of Kim and Phillip Krug. He is a member of the Agronomy Soil and Water Conservation Club and of the UW-Platteville Collegiate Soils Team and has been involved in a grant research program attempting to make soil with heavy metal pollution tillable again. This summer he is doing undergraduate research on growing sunflowers organically. He says he is interested in the way we grow food and wants to mesh organic and conventional methods.

The $500 scholarship award is given annually to a college junior or senior majoring in a conservation field. It is named for Clarence and Marie Medley who were active in the Natural Area Guardians and were instrumental in getting the award established.

Larry Nourse Wins SWCD's Spring Email Sign-Up Contest

In an effort to reduce mailing costs, reduce paper waste, and keep up with the digital age, the Henry County SWCD sponsored an email contest again this spring. People could either sign-up in the office or on the web to receive SWCD updates, brochures, newsletters, etc. via email. Upon sign-up, one would be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $25 VISA Gift Card.

Larry Nourse, from Coal Valley, was this spring’s Email Contest winner! Keep a look out on our website for the next email contest!

Brenda Woods Wins Henry County SWCD Rain Barrel Drawing

Each year during the Henry County Fair, the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District holds a drawing for a free rain barrel at their booth in the Merchant's Building. Congratulations to Brenda Woods! She won the drawing for this year's 55 gallon, black rain barrel!

Rain barrels play a vital role in water conservation by preventing stormwater runoff. They are also a great way of collecting and storing water from roofs of homes, sheds, and barns. This stored water can then be used at a later date for watering gardens or yards, filling bird baths, etc. By preventing stomwater runoff from attaching to soil or pollutants, such as pesticides and fertilizers, rain barrels can greatly reduce the negative impacts pollution has on our water supply. And by reducing the volume of water being carried away into storm drains, rain barrels reduce the amount of water municipalities need to process after rain events. For more information regarding rain barrels, call the Henry County Soil & Water Conservation District. And don't forget to stop by our fair booth next summer for a chance to win your very own rain barrel!


Henry County SWCD Sponsors 24th Annual Poster Contest

Two thousand fourteen marks the 24th year that the Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District has proudly sponsored their poster contest for kindergarten through twelfth grade students. Through the SWCD’s yearly poster contest, students are encouraged to express their thoughts and knowledge about soil, water, and other natural resource topics through art. The poster contest theme coincides each year with the annual Soil and Water Stewardship theme. ‘DIG DEEPER: Mysteries in the Soil' was the theme for 2014. With this exciting and adventurous theme, students had the opportunity to better understand the importance of soil to our everyday lives. Students learned and expressed knowledge of soil properties, soil health, soil formation, soil and organism interactions, and more!

Winners of the kindergarten through sixth grade levels received a bicycle. Contest winners of the seventh through twelfth grade levels received a $50 Visa Gift Card. Prizes are donated by the Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District. Poster contest winners at the local level advance to compete at the state level.

2014 Henry County SWCD Poster Contest WINNERS:

K-1st: Gracie Brockett, Alwood Elementary

2-3rd: Marissa Stevens, Irving

4-6th: Carsen Curry, Alwood Middle

7-9th: Annie Althaus, Alwood Middle/High

10-12th: Chloanne Simmering, Alwood High



2-3rd: Madison Copeland, Irving School

4-6th : Keanan Dean, Alwood Middle School

7-9th : Alyssa Southerland, Alwood M/H School

10-12th : Payton Suddeth, Galva High School


Congratulations to the 2014 Henry County Poster Contest Winners! There were many creative and imaginative posters designed by the students this year. The level of quality, concept recognition, and artistic ability were phenomenal from all students across grade levels!

Thank you to all of the students and teachers that participated!

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our poster contest next Spring!


2014 FFA Section 3 Soil Judging Contest

FFA Section 3 held their Soil Judging Contest once again this year to help better educate our youth. This year's winner was Alwood High School! Team members included: Cody Barman, Tyler Chevalier, Owen Curry, Jadrain Anderson, and Jaimie Schroeder. Their Alwood High School FFA advisor is Bob Terwilliger.


Thanks again to everyone that helped to make the day a success.



The Mission of the Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District is  to:

Provide leadership and administer programs to help conserve, improve and sustain our natural resources and environment.


 Download and print the: 

SWCD brochure 2014

The Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District offers all programs and services without regard to color, nationality, religion, sex, age, marital status or handicap.