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Top steward of land honored at banquet

S. Baxter Wilson of Oak Level Road in Halifax was awarded the Halifax County Soil and Water Conservation 2012 Outstanding Cooperator Award on Thursday evening during the group’s annual award banquet attended by 40 invited guests, district directors and staff.


The highlight of the evening featured the presentation of the 2012 Outstanding Cooperator Award, given annually to an individual who does an outstanding job of conserving the land and natural resources.  

J.  Hudson Reese, district director, presented the award to Wilson citing his proven record of being a steward of the land.  

He has implemented many best management practices, including a contour strip cropping system, sod waterways, warm season native grasses and an intensive program to improve habitat for wildlife, especially quail on his Halifax farm.  

He practices a sound forestry management program and has connected some of his less productive and highly erodible soils to loblolly pines, Reese said.  

“This farmer has proven himself to be environmentally friendly and has dedicated himself to improving the soil and water quality on his farms,” he added.

Keith Crews spoke concerning his experience at the Virginia Tech Youth Conservation Camp.  Halifax Farm Bureau provided a scholarship to cover the cost of the camp for the Halifax County High School student.  

Dr. Bobby Hall, district associate director and education/youth activities chairman, presented the Wildlife Food Patch Contest Awards to the  young conservationists who had outstanding food plots in the annual competition sponsored by the district and Pennington Seed, Inc. 

Approximately 17 students, ages 8-18, participated in the contest this year.  

The students are divided into two categories; age 8-12 and age 13-18, and five winners were chosen from each category.  

The winners in the junior division were Jacob Davis (first), Sabrina Covington (second), Clint Vaughan (third), Hunter Vaughan (fourth) and Kaitlynn Love (fifth).  The winners in the senior division were Matthew Owen (first), Heather Griles (second), Mark Owen (third), Brooke Vaughan (fourth) and Evan Owen (fifth).

Dan Lovelace, wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, presented Thomas V. Rowland the 2012 Wildlife Conservation Award for his exceptional work in restoring and improving existing wildlife habitat. Rowland was unable to attend. 

Peter Eales of the Virginia Department of Forestry recognized Wayne L. Palmer for outstanding accomplishments in forestry.  

Eales discussed his concern for the land and forests and described the work he has done over the years and continues to do on his farm.

Larry Layman, vice chairman, presented the 2012 Clean Water Farm Award to Mac MacDannald.  Past Governor Baliles, in 1986, created an awards program to recognize deserving farmers and landowners who practice good conservation practices to improve water quality.