Service is Mike Hall’s motto. He is the program administrator who manages the District Soil and Water Conservation (SWCD) office located at 3111 Ohio 98. His goal is to help landowners and residents of Crawford County and tailor programs to their benefit.
The program was started in 1945 by a group of five farmers who were licensed by the state legislature to form a local soil and water district. Crawford Soil and Water was the 38th district formed in Ohio. It was originally called the DIVIDE Soil and Water Conservation District due to the division of the continental watershed across the county. They were trained primarily for the development of rural drainage and the prevention of soil erosion in the county. When they were trained, it was only the board supervisors who acted as field technicians doing most of the work in the field. These were mainly drainage tiles, ditches and soil erosion control. Originally, they were in the basement of the post office until it was flooded. Then it moved to the current location where the Ag Credit building is located.
SWCD has worn many different hats since the inception of the office. They went from no employee to one and now they have five: Mike Hall, who has been there for 26 years; Diane Awbrey, 15; Six-year-old Megan Brown; Monica Finney, three years old; and Derek Beat, two. There is a board of supervisors that directs programming and district direction. These ladies and gentlemen are elected by the residents of the county and it is truly a locally run organization.
SWCD offers a variety of services
SWCD still does traditional drainage, but also does many consultations and site visits for drainage issues and issues faced by landowners and homeowners. Their services go far beyond agriculture. Now they are providing assistance to the city with its stormwater awareness and education activities. One of the examples of their artwork is around the downtown storm sewers. There’s one near Schine’s Art Park, one in the plaza by the fountain in front of the mural, one on North Sandusky in front of the NAPA Auto Parts Store, and the last is in Aumiller Park. They are eye-catching and draw your attention to the paintings. These are mostly bright blue waters with small creatures such as fish and frogs in the water. Each has a unique educational message such as “only raining in the sewers”. It’s definitely making a statement.
The important thing, and something Mike doesn’t want to lose sight of, is that they provide a service to the landowners, residents and citizens of the county. Of course, they work a lot with the farming community, providing assistance with soil and water conservation, just as the name suggests. Most of the time in today’s world, healthy soil and cover crops are a protective armor during winter as well as no-till systems. They all work together to improve water quality.
SWCD also does a lot of engineering design work for field (field) conservation practices, such as grass waterways to control gully erosion. They also work with pastoralists who manage farmyard manure from storage to field application as fertilizer. Many people do not realize that it is used as a natural fertilizer, not just as a fertilizer.
SWCD appreciates its partnerships with USDA / NRCS (see Brad Van Voorhis story) and the OSU extension. They work together to deliver programs, educational workshops for farmers, landowners and gardeners on a variety of topics including farming practices, forestry and ponds. Their newsletter is available by calling the office (419-562-8280) and signing up on their toll-free mailing list.
Readers might be surprised to find that they provide a lot of education on agriculture and natural resources at all of the local county schools, including St. Joseph’s Galion and Wayside schools. One of the most popular programs is the “Livestock Live Program” where they take seven different farm animals to schools and discuss how they provide food and fiber for clothing. The future of conservation is schools, and if children value it, they will carry it into adulthood.
Learn more about the Hall family
Ending the two-part story of Mike and Angie, it is their love for farming, conservation and family. They had pigs, goats and cattle, but their son Ethan wanted to grow up and he started raising broilers on his own until he left for Wilmington College and OSU. Chelsea wanted to keep bees, which she currently does and is also an assistant manager at Walmart. Matthew graduated from Columbus State. Lindsay has a job with Avita Ontario and is also a certified cosmetologist who is growing her business full time by doing nails.
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