Washington County Soil And Water Conservation District Announces Farm Family of the Year Nominee

The Washington County Soil & Water Conservation District is proud to announce their choice for the 2018 Farm Family of the Year Nominee: Sheldon & June Keyser.

Sheldon says the overpowering knowledge that God created a marvelous world and that we are responsible to care for our small portion of his creation for future generations provides us with a sense of responsibility to do what we do!

The Keyser family has been submitted & selected for the Land Use Council #13 award as well. As the regional council winner, the Keysers will be submitted for consideration at the Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts’ Summer Conference this July. The object of this award is to provide recognition to an outstanding conservation family in each Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District that exemplifies Total Resource Management. Therefore, each SWCD is encouraged to sponsor a local contest and submit their winner for Council competition. From the 16 Council winners the AISWCD Awards Committee will select a Governor’s Award winner. Selection will be completed prior to and announced at the AISWCD Summer Conference. Statewide winner will also be presented the “Governor’s Award” winner, to be recognized at the Illinois State Fair.

The Keyser farm is located in the northeastern part of Washington County, in Irvington Township. They purchased the farm in 1973. Sheldon has been enrolling HEL (highly-erodible land) fields into CRP since 1986.HE has 220 acres enrolled into CRP, & 100 acres in CREP. His CRP practices include acres of native grasses, wildlife habitat & food plot, filter strips, riparian buffer, habitat buffers for upland birds, & pollinator habitat. His land also features terraces, a rock chute, & several ponds. The Keysers intensely manage these acres through a variety of practices including initial seeding, reseedings of needed, food plots, controlled burns, and recently a chemical control of invasive species.

The farm features 2.5 miles of “walking paths through his conservation haven”, featuring over 100 acres of timber, ponds & timber. Once an avid hunter, he now prefers to make the habitat better for the wildlife, & lets others enjoy the hunting. Each year, Sheldon hosts a “hunters’ weekend” for a group of hunters from Pennsylvania. The Keysers have also hosted hayrides for local 4-H members.

Sheldon says the overpowering knowledge that God created a marvelous world and that we are responsible to care for our small portion of his creation for future generations provides us with a sense of responsibility to do what we do!

In 1977 the Soil and Water Conservation District awarded the Keysers with the county’s local Farm Family Award. Over 40 years later, Sheldon is still deserving of the award as he continues to improve and protect the land. Why does he do it? His philosophy is simple …… l am a steward! While Sheldon and his wife June are the property owners, we both consider ourselves to be the stewards of the land. We take great pleasure watching young squirrels and rabbits play in the yard, catching a fish from our pond for supper, hearing a wild turkey gobble and watching deer run and play. Our work is not laborious – rather a labor of love and joy.

Congratulations to Council #13 Conservation Farm Family winner: Sheldon and June Keyser!