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Group honors stewards of land at annual banquet

The Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District hosted its annual awards banquet at Ernie’s Restaurant in South Boston on Thursday evening.  

Approximately 65 invited guests, district directors and staff enjoyed the meal prior to the presentation of awards.

The highlight of the evening featured the presentation of the 2013 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 this award to Michael Farson. Farson has a proven record of being a steward of the land.  He has implemented many best management practices, including sod waterways, no-till farming, terraces, cover crops and crop rotation.  

His primary farming operation includes tobacco, wheat and soybeans where he practices sound land conservation through working with the Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District and NRCS.  

His cooperation with implementing sound resource management is an important part of what Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District tries to emphasize.

Page Wilkerson, chairman, presented Reese a 40-year Service Award.  

Reese was elected to the Halifax SWCD in 1974. He has served continuously since that time and served as chairman for 17 of his 40 years of service.  His dedication to the conservation mission led him to represent Area V as chairman from December 1987-December 1989, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District vice president from December 1989-December 1991 and Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District president from December 1991-1993.

Sara Beth Reese and Alec Mitchell spoke concerning their experiences 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 students.  

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.  

This year seed packets and planting instructions were made available to 31 area youth.  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), Isaac Ragsdale (second), Josh Fisher (third), Austin Crews (fourth) Will Fisher (fifth) and Sabrina Covington (fifth).  

The winners in the senior division were Taylor Crews (first), Caleb Hammock (second), Mark Owen (third), Matthew Owen (fourth), Clint Vaughan (fifth) and Brooke Vaughan (fifth).

Blair Smyth, wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, presented Dr. Bobby Hall the 2013 Wildlife Conservation Award for his exceptional work in restoring and improving existing wildlife habitat.   

Peter Eales with the Virginia Department of Forestry recognized Linda Cole for outstanding accomplishments in forestry.  Eales discussed her concern for the land and forests and described the work she has done over the years and continues to do on her farm.

Larry Layman, vice chairman, presented the 2013 Clean Water Farm Award to Richard “Ricky” Pool.  

Past Governor Gerald Baliles, in 1986, created an awards program to recognize deserving farmers and landowners who practice good conservation practices to improve Water Quality.